Sharp growth in outbound travel business
The outbound travel business has been growing on a year on year basis
over the past few years compared to the inbound travel market which is
dampened with every little incident that takes place in the country;
unless the tourists come and experience the ground situation for
themselves, said Senior Vice President, JKH Group CEO Mackinnons
American Express Travel (Pvt) Ltd Trevor Rajaratnam.
He said that over a decade ago only business people and a selected
few who were able to obtain visas and had the income were able to travel
abroad. But now the trends have changed and today, all levels of income
earners including the low income earners travel abroad.
One main reason for this trend is the marketing strategies adopted by
travel agents as well as the competition among the credit card
companies, making available schemes such as the fly now pay later and
buy one get one free.
He said whatever the ground situation people have a desire and the
ability to pay and the world has become a small place for Sri Lankans as
people can afford to travel today.
With a Sri Lankan passport the only two countries people can travel
without visas are Singapore and the Maldives. Therefore, it shows that
Sri Lankans can fulfil the requirements laid out by the respective High
Commissions or embassies which is also a reason for the outbound leisure
travel to increase.
He said an industry that has grown, is outbound holiday packages and
we are not talking of destinations such as Singapore, Bangkok, Malaysia
or India but tours to destinations such as Europe, USA,Australia,
Concerts and Cruises.
but the middle income earner flies to more affordable destinations
such as Thailand or Malaysia on shopping trips.
Another growing market is Incentive Travel and during the past 2-3
weeks our company sent about 400 people on incentive travel packages
given by various companies to countries such as Dubai, Thailand,
Malaysia and India.
The segment of incentive travel companies say thank you to their
dealers and offer full paid holidays to different destinations once a
In addition, the segment of business travel also still continues to
grow and if the overseas partners are reluctant to fly in the Sri Lankan
counterparts fly out.
Rajaratnam said that air ticket costs have gone up by
70-100%,compared to a couple of years ago, due to the fuel tax and
airlines are clever enough to separate the airfare component and the
fuel tax component as their pay out to Travel Agents are less.
As a result the travel agents, margins are further thinning down .
He said that the monthly turnover is Rs. 2bln but their earnings have
reduced and we are working on thin margins.
He said, “The most disappointing factor for us in the travel trade
is, customers changing a travel agent for the benefit of Rs. 500 Rs.
In most instances at the end of the day the customer is the loser
when he shops around and obtains the quotation from all and sundry,
because, at times, he gets to know that the quotes were incorrect”.
Rajaratnam said that as in all other businesses to get a quality
service you have to pay a little extra, but the travel industry is one
industry that customers bargain until the last cent.
Therefore, collectively we are working to bring in some discipline.
It is up to us to make them understand, he said.
Another issue, he highlighted was that Sri Lankans wait until the
last minute to make their travel plans which exerts much pressure on the
travel agent. At present the airlines are structured in such a way that
earlier the booking is made the lower the price.
Even in the same class,such as Economy Class, the price varies
according to the date you booked your seat, he said.
Manpower was another issue faced by the industry and to attract
talented people to the industry we need to pay them good salaries and
provide them a good training and with the wafer thin margins, there are
Rajaratnam said that about two years ago the country had only 45 IATA
qualified travel companies but now there are 103 IATA qualified Travel
Ayurvedic tourism a booming industry
The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine
organised a workshop at the Auditorium of the Sri Lanka Tourism to
explore the possibility of working together to evolve a new concept
Ayurvedic tourism is becoming a booming industry in the region. Large
numbers of Westerners are growing disenchanted with the high cost of
healthcare of their Allopathic system of medicine and its many side
The growing emphasis the world over is now on natural/herbal and
holistic methods of healing and the ancient science of Ayurveda, which
fulfils all these requirements, is gaining widespread popularity.
The practice of indigenous medicine in the country which spanned
several millennia has now got a new lease of life due to growing global
interest and both ministries have decided to set up a new framework of
standards to increase the level of professionalism within the industry
so as to better serve the more sophisticated foreign clientele.
A new committee has been set up by Minister of Tourism, Milinda
Moragoda with the task of setting standards and conducting workshops for
Ayurvedic practioners and therapists to improve their professionalism
and teach them how to deal with the tourists.
The committee invited members of the Tourism industry to discuses
issues relevant to this important sector.
Minister of Indigenous Medicine, Tissa Karaliyadda, Secretary,
Ministry of Tourism, George Michael Malimage, Secretary, Ministry of
Indigenous Medicine, the sub committee chairman of Ayurvedic Tourism Dr.
Cooray Waidyasekara and more than two-hundred resource personnel
This new form of tourism is expected to produce several jobs and earn
more foreign exchange for the country, said Minister Karraliyadda in his
keynote address at the opening session of the workshop.
For the first time in the history of our Ministries we are working
with a common agenda and it will help to uplift the ancient science of
Ayurveda to join the global needs.
Dr. Waidyasekara, told the Media that many local Ayurvedic physicians
are used to an uncomplaining, unquestioning Sri Lankan clientele. A few
hotels in Sri Lanka cater almost exclusively to Ayurvedic tourists but
the demand still seems to exceed supply and there is scope for a lot of
expansion within the industry.
Double bonanza from Emirates
Travelling out of Colombo with Emirates in May and June will be
extra-rewarding as a result of two new promotions that will run
concurrently in this period.
The award-winning Dubai-based carrier is offering all members of
Skywards, its frequent flyer program, an opportunity to double their
Skywards Miles when they fly to any one of 24 selected destinations in
Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Far East.
Simultaneously, all passenger’s who book their travel on-line via
www.emirates.com/lk, and complete at least one sector of travel between
May and June 30 stand a chance to win 250,000 Skywards Miles at a draw
to be conducted at the end of the promotion.
“This is an absolute double bonanza for our passengers,” said
Emirates Sales Manager Sri Lanka Devika Ellepola, “It will make their
travel even more interesting and give them something to look forward to
at the end of their journeys.”
She said that all Skywards members who register for the Double Miles
offer will automatically get double the Skywards Miles they are entitled
to, while all those who book on line will qualify for the draw, whether
or not they are Skywards members at the time of the booking.