Mattala airport to play crucial role:
2.5m high-spending tourists - Lanka's target for 2016
Sri Lanka hopes to attract 2.5 million high-spending tourists by
2016. Chairman, SriLankan Airlines, Nishantha Wickramasinghe said that
with the opening of the second international airport, the Mattala
Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) in Hambantota, this number would
increase by a further one million.
Chairman SriLankan Airlines Nishantha Wickramasinghe addresses a
press conference at the Arabian Travel Mart
The national carrier is also promoting cruise ships to anchor at the
Hambantota Port and convert the region in to a major cruise destination
similar to Singapore.Most leading cruise liners in the world drop and
pick up passengers in Singapore. Due to this, the Singapore airport gets
at least an additional 30 percent more passenger movements.
This is the business model SriLankan Airlines wants to create for the
Hambantota district. By doing so, tourists would use both the Hambantota
Port and Airport to facilitate cruise travel, thus opening a new area of
business.The East Coast, with the ending of 30 years of hostilities, has
become a major tourist attraction and several five star hotels have come
up to meet the demand.
Tourists have to spend nearly nine hours to reach the much sought
after Eastern hotels, but with the opening of the MRIA, the East Coast
is just a three-hour drive. Since most SriLankan Airlines flights touch
down at MRIA and there are also regular flights to the Bandaranaike
International Airport at Colombo, tourists now have the option of first
exploring the Eastern Coast and the Deep South and their wildlife, visit
the Cultural Triangle and fly back from Colombo.
the Mattala Airport
|A cruise liner
Four years after the 30-year battle against terrorism ended, tourism
has become one of Sri Lanka's biggest foreign exchange earners with
average annual revenues of US$ 1 billion at present. The number of
tourist arrivals last year was 1,005,605 while in January this year,
97,411 tourists visited the country. The island is expected to earn an
annual income of three billion US dollars by 2016.
Once again, Indian tourists dominated the arrivals list and in a bid
to woo more Indian arrivals, a series of promotional campaigns are being
Sri Lanka's tourism authorities launched a three-day mega promotional
campaign titled 'Get Sri Lanken'ed' which kicked off in style in Mumbai
on Friday followed by a high profile media conference at the Taj Lands
End Hotel at Salcette, Mumbai.
The press conference was the first of a series of events lined up
under the 'Get SriLankan'ed' promotional campaign of Sri Lanka Tourism,
which was launched with the aim of positioning Sri Lanka as a most
sought after travel destination in emerging markets of the world. In
2010, Sri Lanka was ranked at the first position in the '31 Places to go
in 2010' list published by The New York Times
The campaign 'Get Sri Lanken'ed' was initiated on President Mahinda
Rajapaksa's advice in keeping with the Mahinda Chinthana. The objective
of developing a sustainable Sri Lankan tourism industry inspired this
campaign, organised jointly by the public and private sectors.
During the press conference held in this connection, over 120 high
profile publications and broadcasters representing the Indian media were
briefed on the promotional campaign's objectives and the nature of
events scheduled. The events which began on Friday will continue till
tomorrow. The event gained colour with the traditional Sri Lankan dance
performances of the Western Province Dance Group which captured
Addressing the gathering, Economic Development Deputy Minister Muthu
Sivalingam noted that India and Sri Lanka have many similarities as
Asian nations and the long-standing relationship they have as close
neighbours creates immense opportunities for both countries to share
common interests and values and develop socio-economic ties with each
Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Bhashwara Gunarathna explained the
rationale behind launching the 'Get Sri Lanken'ed' campaign in India and
how Sri Lanka Tourism plans to achieve a maximum influx of Indian
tourists to the island.
He said Sri Lanka's target is to attract 400,000 Indian tourists by
2016, thus helping to reach the goal of 2.5 million arrivals by 2016.
Gunaratna also thanked President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister of
Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa for the continuous guidance
provided to carry out promotional campaigns of this nature to develop
the travel and tourism industry of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Tourism also organised another successful event in Dubai
earlier when they participated in the annual Arabian Travel Market with
a record participation from the private sector. The Sri Lankan stand
depicting wildlife was one of the most photographed stalls. These
promotions would also help increase arrivals from the Gulf region this