Lanka to woo more Middle Eastern tourists via ATM

Sri Lanka Tourism started its aggressive promotion in the Gulf region yesterday at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2015 in Dubai, the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism show. Over 56 state and private sector participants attached to 25 travel trade companies from Sri Lanka attended this year’s ATM, which will continue until 7 May. Sri Lanka Tourism is staging ATM 2015 in order to create a platform to project the country’s image in the region’s tourism sector. This year’s theme for the promotion is ‘wildlife and adventure’ due to the fact that travellers from the region are more inclined to favour areas in the country that offer lush vegetation and high-altitude landscapes.

“More travellers from the Emirates are keen to enjoy the much cooler environment and green culture. Sri Lanka has gained much-needed popularity by being able to offer all the four seasonal climates within a couple of hours of travel. Sri Lanka hit the top position in the destination list of Emirates travellers,” said the Consulate General of Sri Lanka for Dubai and Northern Emirates, M. M. Abdul Raheem, who was in charge of promotional activities in the absence of both chairmen of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Sri Lanka Tourism Authority at the preliminary session on the grand opening day.

SLT statistics indicated that apart from the expat community in Dubai, nearly 9,500 Emiratis travelled to Sri Lanka in 2014 seeking cooler climes. “This will be a significant improvement. We were usually tapping the expat market from Dubai. But UAE passport-holders are much keener on travelling to Sri Lanka than Europeans or Americans due to the time factor and other reasons,” he said. Tapping the potential Gulf expatriate market – which accounts for about 10,000 arrivals in 2014 – is an important move too. According to statistics, there are 90,000 British passport-holders and a considerable number of American and East Asian expats who visited Sri Lanka. “The most important thing, and a major plus point, is the good air links between the Gulf and Sri Lanka. Colombo –Dubai has the best airline connection of the country. Eight flights daily between the two cities encourage travellers in the tourism and business segments,” Raheem explained.

All leading airlines such as SriLankan Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia and Qatar Airways operate almost daily flights. Travel, tourism and hospitality companies from across the globe will showcase their offerings at ATM 2015. The show has grown by 7% since 2014 and added an extra hall for 2015, with 86 countries, 64 national pavilions and a total of 113 new exhibitors set to make their ATM debut. (SW)

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