"With this initiative, Sri Lankan will have 37 weekly connections to nine cities in the Middle East – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Doha, Muscat, Dammam, Riyadh, Jeddah and Kuwait," it said Wednesday.
In the first quarter of 2008 there had been an 80 percent increase in tourist arrivals from the Middle East, which is also the main destination for Sri Lankan migrant workers who are now the main source of foreign exchange for the country.
The airline said the government has identified the Middle East as one of four major thrust markets to attract visitors to Sri Lanka, and has launched a series of marketing campaigns to raise awareness of the island's attractions.
"We are strengthening our Middle East network, as there has been a significant increase in demand for flights in the region, and we see a lot of potential for growth," the statement quoted Mohamed Fazeel, the airline's Regional Manager Middle East, Africa and CIS, as saying.
"Our focus is on leisure travellers, and airline's leisure arm Sri Lankan Holidays has unveiled several packages to cater especially to Middle Eastern tourists who want to visit Sri Lanka."