Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka Tourism last week shared a strong message about the resilience and openness for business at the ITB – the world’s leading travel and trade show in Berlin, Germany.
“I’m delighted to say that Sri Lanka tourism has bounced back and is booming with confidence,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando told international journalists covering the ITB.
During the first eight days of March, Sri Lanka welcomed 31, 086 visitors, boosting the confidence of the industry for a good year. A total of 241,270 visitors have arrived in Sri Lanka so far, the provisional data by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) showed.
Acknowledging the challenges it faced with political instability and economic crisis, he said the country has overcome the difficulties and had returned to normalcy.
“Sri Lanka is not a bucket list country, but a destination that is impossible not to love. Our efforts at the ITB were to offer more of our hospitality and tell the story of our beautiful country which is worthy to love,” Fernando added.
The participation at ITB was only to promote the tourism business, but also to showcase to the world that Sri Lanka is in the spotlight in the Asian region as a preferred destination for European travellers.
Noting that Germany was ranked among the top three tourist source markets in March so far, the Minister said Sri Lanka tourism is banking on German travellers this year to visit the country.
“Sri Lanka has all that to offer for all segments. Before you leave ITB, book a ticket to Sri Lanka. You will not regret it because seeing is believing,” he stressed.
Fernando also outlined that the country will be redefined with a different set of experiences on offer for tourists.
“We have curated a walking experience funded by the European Union called Pekoe Trail. This hike is conceptualised for travellers to complete in segments,” he added.
Recalling that Sri Lanka had many German restaurants in the southern coastal belt, he called on the investors to consider buying villas, lands and islands in the Northern Peninsula, as plans are underway to launch the first-ever tourism investor forum.
Minister Fernando also pointed out that many international airlines such as Air France, KLM, Swiss Air and several others have restarted calling at Colombo, he attributed it due to the potential they see Sri Lanka as a top travel destination.
SriLankan Airlines Worldwide Sales and Distribution Head Dimuthu Tennakoon said the national carrier has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Deutsche Bahn (DB) – the national railway company of Germany to sell SriLankan air tickets.
“The air tickets can be purchased via 5,600 train stations in and around Germany,” he added.
Minister Fernando also stated that an app will be introduced soon as an end-to-end solution to the needs of tourists which will include places to visit, accommodation with reviews and security features.