SRI Lanka will join the Vanilla Islands Organization (VIO) by end-2014 to leverage the consortium's inter-island packages to drive tourism, in an announcement made last week.
VIO was set up in 2010 and includes Mauritius, the Seychelles, the Maldives, Reunion Island, Madagascar, Mayotte and Comoros as members.
“The prime objective of VIO is to position the Indian Ocean region as a quality world-class holiday destination," said Pascal Viroleau, CEO, VIO. “We are promoting inter-island packages and part of the strategy to increase visitor numbers to member destinations is to prepare new products and packages...and to include new members.”
Priority markets for VIO are France, Germany, the UK, Japan, and India. VIO has partnered Air Austral for the Vanilla Islands Pass that allows travellers to visit several islands with discounted fares and prices.
Kapil Berera, CEO, Astral Travels New Delhi, said: “Most visitors to Sri Lanka would prefer to combine it with another smaller island destination like Maldives.”
Mitesh Dani, managing director, Parul Tours & Travels Mumbai, explained: “Island destinations offer exotic travel options and if more islands join VIO, the pool of products that can be offered will be immense.”
He observed that the islands’ close proximity would allow for seamless travel connections.