INDIA continues to lead as Sri Lanka's largest source market and a target for the country's promotions efforts, despite a 1.7 per cent fall in the number of arrivals year-on-year.
According to statistics from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Indian arrivals dipped to 83,981 in 1H2013 from 85,426 in 1H2012.
“Tourism is one of the largest contributors to the emerald isle’s GDP. Last year we recorded a 17.5 per cent rise in tourist arrivals with over 1.5 million visitors, of which 176,000 were from India,” said Upekkha Samaratunga, consul general of Sri Lanka in Mumbai.
“A major component of the Indian arrivals was MICE, followed by FITs and families. India is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest source markets in South Asia and has large outbound MICE activity,” she continued, sharing that the Sri Lankan government was focusing on the Indian MICE segment this year.
To encourage the growth of this segment, Sri Lanka will conduct roadshows and workshops in India between August and December to educate the travel trade on Sri Lanka’s MICE facilities.
SriLankan Airlines has also unveiled a MICE brochure for the Indian market and rolled out airfare discounts for both MICE and leisure tourists for the July-October period.
Sisira Abeyratne, manager-tours, Colombo-based Rosen Tours, said: “The Indian outbound market to Sri Lanka can grow much more if more flights are introduced and special fares offered during the Indian holiday season.”
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka also has hopes for the performance of its other source markets. Rashmika Larence, manager at Colombo-based Walker Tours, said: “The Buddhist pilgrims from China and Japan are growing exponentially as the east coast is opening up many new resorts and the country as a whole is offering superior tourism products.”
Sri Lanka, which received about 16,582 tourists from China for the first half of this year, welcomed 512,281 tourists over the same period, registering 13.1 per cent growth. SLTDA is aiming for 1.3 million tourists this year, and 2.5 million by 2016.