Sri Lanka targets Indian tourists with B2B roadshows

Sri Lanka ramps up efforts to attract Indian tourists with B2B roadshows in Indore, Vadodara, and Surat, aiming for year-round travel.

Sri Lanka is stepping up its game to attract more Indian tourists through a series of B2B roadshows and networking evenings held in Indore, Vadodara, and Surat on June 10th, 12th, and 14th, 2024. These efforts, spearheaded by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB), aim to position Sri Lanka as a year-round destination for all types of travelers. Supported by the Sri Lanka Consulate General in Mumbai, SriLankan Airlines, and various tour associations, the initiative targets travelers from Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Tourism’s Impact and Future Prospects

In a recent address, Harin Fernando, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Tourism, Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs, highlighted the substantial growth in the tourism sector. In 2023, Sri Lanka’s tourism earnings surpassed $2 billion, and the first four months of 2024 have already seen revenues exceeding $1.25 billion. “We have established a challenging goal of attracting 2.5 million tourists in 2024, and we are optimistic about its achievability,” Fernando stated. This growth trajectory is supported by a global marketing campaign, “You’ll Come Back for More,” and participation in major international events like SATTE and ATM.

Indian Market: A Key Driver

Chalaka D. Gajabahu, Chairman of the SLTPB, noted the significant contribution of Indian tourists to Sri Lanka’s tourism surge. “In 2022, we transitioned and offer more than just sun and beaches – with sports, culture, spiritual, historical, and more. India remains our top source with 18% of total tourism arrivals being Indians in the past 5 months.,” he said. From January to June 5th, 2024, Sri Lanka welcomed 160,184 Indian visitors, underscoring the importance of the Indian market.

Strengthening Air Connectivity

SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier, plays a pivotal role in facilitating this growth. Richard Nuttall, CEO of SriLankan Airlines, reported strong performance on Indian routes, with an average load factor of 74 percent. The airline plans to expand its fleet to 25 aircraft by the end of the year, enhancing flight frequencies and introducing new destinations as capacity increases. “Our network includes direct and codeshare flights to 114 destinations across 62 countries, with direct services to nine cities in India,” Nuttall shared. This expansion is aimed at improving connectivity for Indian passengers.

Strategic Partnerships and Innovations

SriLankan Airlines is also enhancing its strategic partnerships and digital innovations to improve the passenger experience. The airline currently has 18 codeshare partnerships, including with Air India, and is negotiating new agreements with Middle Eastern and South Asian carriers. For the Indian trade market, the airline offers agents access to discounted fares, free date changes, and incentives through its New Distribution Capability (NDC) platform. Periodic promotions, webinars, and familiarization tours for agents further bolster these efforts.

Our main focus is to offer passengers a truly authentic ‘Sri Lankan’ experience, from the onboard food to the hospitality,” Nuttall emphasized. The airline is also leading digital transformations at airports, having introduced self-check-in kiosks and bag drop facilities, with plans to extend mobile app services to include digital check-in and boarding.

Commitment to Sustainability

SriLankan Airlines is committed to sustainability, focusing on reducing its carbon footprint through industry-leading practices in fuel efficiency, carbon emission monitoring, and landfill waste reduction. The airline’s ‘Mathaka’ upcycling project and active participation in environmental conservation initiatives, such as restoring mangrove forests and conserving seagrass habitats, reflect this commitment.

Sri Lanka’s concerted efforts to attract Indian tourists through strategic roadshows, enhanced air connectivity, and a strong focus on sustainability are expected to significantly boost tourism. With an ambitious goal of attracting 2.5 million tourists in 2024, the island nation is well-positioned to solidify its status as a premier year-round destination for travelers from India and beyond.

George Diamantopoulos

George, in his capacity as an intern, diligently oversees the flow of news, assists in the publication of content, and delves into the strategies of social media distribution. He is currently pursuing his studies in Business Administration at the Athens University of Economics and Business.