Monday, February 16, 2009

Middle East travellers to Sri Lanka surge by 24% in 2008

Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori, SLTPB Middle East Director

Bucking global economic recession and a downward spiral in the tourism industry worldwide, Middle East travellers visiting Sri Lanka surged by 24% in 2008 according to Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s (SLTPB) Middle East Office.

“The year 2008 has been one of promising growth, driven by heightened consumer awareness in the Middle East, and the growing desire for culture and adventure among regional travellers,” said Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of SLTPB.

She noted that the strongest growth markets included UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iran. “Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is anticipated to make rapid strides, owing to increased travels related to wellness and spas, culture and adventure purposes,” said Ms. Al Mansoori.

“Declining costs of travel, changing lifestyle patterns, consumer friendly travel facilities, and good child care and maid facilities for Arabs travelling with families have been key growth drivers,” Ms Al Mansoori observed.

Cultural attractions, entertainment, shopping, and dining are some of the factors that draw modern day Arab travellers to their preferred destinations and Sri Lanka offers a good product that scores on all counts and is less than four hours flying time away from the Gulf.

The Middle East has outperformed all other regions of the world, by becoming the fastest growing source market for Sri Lanka. Other travel origin markets for Sri Lanka that had positive growth included France, Switzerland, Russia, Singapore and Thailand among others.

About SLTPB’s Middle East

“Sri Lanka is one of the best kept secrets in the world as a travel destination, especially for Middle East travellers. The food is exotic and wonderful, the people are gracious and friendly, the accommodation options are first rate and many of the sights are unparalleled anywhere in the world,” said Ms. Al Mansoori.
SLTPB’s Middle East office is responsible for all tourism promotional activities in the Arab markets including exhibition participation, marketing visits, presentations and road shows, advertising, brochure distribution, public relations, as well as familiarization visits to the island for influential business and travel journalists. Factors such as government support for the tourism sector, and expansion of low-cost carrier services are also contributing to the growth of the industry. The tourism industry is one of Sri Lanka’s economic pillars and is keen to develop business from the Middle East region by enhancing its position as a tropical paradise.