The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) continued its promotion of Sri Lanka as a destination to India by hosting a press tour for a delegation of high profile journalists from prominent media houses.
India is the largest source market for tourists visiting Sri Lanka. In 2018, 425,000 Indian tourists visited, up 10.7% on 2017.
In the first quarter of 2019, Indian arrivals continued to grow, up 5.6% year on year to 107,000. By the end of August 2019, year to date arrivals are over 212,000.
The delegation consisted of journalists from Lonely Planet India, The Times of India, Loksatta, The Indian express (pvt) Ltd, Sakal papers (Pvt) Ltd, National Geographic traveler India, Lokmat Media Group, Mumbai Messenger Newspaper, Indian Express, & Maharashtra Times online.
They visited Sri Lankan from 28 August to 2 September 2019 to explore the various cultural and natural resources Sri Lanka has to offer. In a statement, SLTPB said that the main objective of this visit was to give an opportunity for the Indian media to have firsthand experience after the 21/4 incident, to explore new attractions and also to show the diversity of this country.
Sri Lanka’s strategy of targeting promotions to India appears to be working. In August Indian visitors accounted for 26% of total tourist arrivals. Numbers have rebounded quickly after the attack in April. 37,568 Indian tourists arrived last month, up 17% year on year compared to August 2018.
The media delegation also met the Hon. Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife & Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga, on their visit to Sri Lanka, at the Tourism Ministry. They held discussions with the Hon. Minister and were able to get important feedback for their queries regarding the security situation and new projects implemented to encourage more tourist arrivals.
Their FAM tour included places such as Colombo, Bentota and the Lunugaga Estate, followed by a Galle city tour, visiting Udawalawa national park, Nuwaraeliya, Kandy and also visit the temple of the sacred tooth relic as well. A few of the Indian journalists expressed their impressions on Sri Lanka as an amazing destination with so much to explore.
Samarphan Bhowmik from Lonely Planet India described ‘a great balance between security and openness’.
Mayura Janwalkar, from the Indian Express mentioned: ‘’Sri Lanka is a country that has great tourism potential. Its seashores and beaches are already popular but its hill stations also hold great promise. The people of Sri Lanka were warm and hospitable in every part of the country we visited. And I think Sri Lankan food can go places if tourists coming to Sri Lanka get access to Sri Lankan farms and kitchens. All in all, it was great visiting Sri Lanka and I do hope to be back some day, hopefully, soon.”
The Indian media delegation also met with SLTPB officials at a reception held in Colombo in order to express solidarity and goodwill among the Sri Lankan & Indian counterparts. Mr. Kishu Gomes, Chairman, SLTPB, Ms. Madubhani Perera (Director PR), Mr. Chaminda Munasinghe (Assistant Director VJP) were among the senior officials who participated at the event. SLTPB, undertook this national promotion as a joint collaboration with the industry partners including Movenpick Colombo, Avani Bentota, Jetwing Kaduruketha, Araliya Green City, Mahaweli Reach Hotel and Heritance Negombo. Prestige destination travel company Red Apple Travels & Holidays Lanka offered ground transport with professional guide service.