Sri Lanka chases tea lovers, golfers to rebuild tourist image

April 12, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tourism promoters are trying to focus on niche markets, luring golfers and tea drinkers to visit the island after its image as a tourist destination was marred by renewed guerrilla violence. The tourism chief, Renton De Alwis, believes that focusing on repeat visitors who are aware of the island’s troubles, and at the same time admire its charms, might yield better results.

And Chandana De Silva, head of corporate communications for national carrier SriLankan Airlines, which also heavily promotes the destination spending more than 200 million rupees each year, wants visitors to know the island for its superb golf courses and not only as a cricket playing, cricket-crazy country.

Tourist Board Chairman Renton De Alwis suggested Sri Lanka project itself to the world by promoting Ceylon tea, for which it has long been famous, as well as the local cuisine.

While travel advisories do affect tourist arrivals, some long-standing advisories no longer have much affect, De Alwis said.

Right now in this situation, repeat visitors and also people who already know about Sri Lanka sometimes disregard the various advisories that are there. They are the ones that we should really b