As part of its ongoing bilateral and cultural ties with its Indian counterparts, Sri Lanka Tourism organised a series of Road Shows in key South Indian cities. These series of roadshows were conducted with an aim to promote the destinations and tourism products of the serene island nation. The first road show was held at Chennai on 24th April, followed by at Cochin on 26th April and ended at Bangalore on 28th April.
A delegation of over 30 Sri Lankan Travel Agencies and hotels participated at this event. The delegation was led by the Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Tourism and accompanied by Mr. Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Mr. Thisum Jayasuriya, Chairman Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Ms. Shirani Herth, Junior Manager, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and Ms. Malkanthi Welikla, Manager – Marketing, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau.
Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Tourism, said “Sri Lanka is experiencing a significant rise in tourist arrivals, particularly from India, which has now secured the top spot. In the first three months of 2023, we welcomed 46,432 Indian tourists. With an ambitious promotional campaign underway, we are aiming to attract 2 million Worldwide tourists this year. This increase in visitors has had a positive impact on tourism earnings, with Sri Lanka earning around 530 million U.S. dollars in the first quarter of 2023, compared to $482.3 million in the same period last year. We expect to generate a total of $3 billion in tourism revenue this year.”
He further added, “Sri Lanka values the Indian outbound market since it has been instrumental in driving tourism to our country. The country features a varied range of attractions and offerings, including wellness and yoga, beaches, shopping, cuisine, adventure, and wildlife, in addition to its extensive legacy dating back 2500 years. Furthermore, the Ramayana circuit, a religious travel initiative, is a strong draw for the Indian market. As a result, this is an excellent time to experience the wonderful hospitality of the Sri Lankan people.”
During the Roadshows, Hon. Minister of Tourism met several high-profile Business Leaders, investors, Tourism Stake Holders and Corporates while engaging in several media interviews with leading Indian media houses.
Mr. Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau said, “Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for families and is suitable for travel throughout the year. The country is currently engaging with the travel industry in India to reinforce its position as a preferred travel destination. Through our representatives and stakeholders from hotels, resorts, destination management companies, and event management companies, we aim to build a strong relationship with our travel-trade partners in India and foster a mutually beneficial association.”
Mr. Thisum Jayasuriya, Chairman Sri Lanka Convention Bureau said, “Sri Lanka is quickly becoming a popular destination for meetings, conferences, and incentives, also known as MICE. To showcase this promising destination, we hosted the first-ever MICE expo in Sri Lanka in March 2023. We were excited to welcome 80 participants from India alone. Sri Lanka’s proximity and excellent connectivity make it an attractive and cost-effective option for MICE travellers.”
The target audience at these roadshows were Tour Operators, Media, Key Influencers, Corporates, Trade Associations and key Tourism Industry stakeholders in India, who had the ability to take the message that Sri Lanka is not only one of the most beautiful countries with an amazing range of destinations and products, but is also safe and secure.
The event focused on promoting a myriad of tourism experiences while focusing on converting potential travellers to make booking and highlight the positive message that Sri Lanka is open for Leisure, Business and MICE tourism. Many industry stakeholders have supported this endeavour including Sri Lankan Airlines and Indigo. Each roadshow included B2B Sessions facilitating numerous discussions followed by an Evening Networking event which also helped to improve business partnerships.
A touch of glamour was added to these events with the participation of celebrities such as Cricket legend Sanath Jayasuriya. A dancing troupe specially flown in for this event which showcased Sri Lankan rich heritage of performing arts.