June 25, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan Airlines, the island’s national carrier, said it has increased flights to the Middle East to support government moves to attract more tourists from the region. The state-owned airline said in a statement that weekly flights to the city of Doha had been increased to six from four previously, to Bahrain to seven flights from five earlier, and flights to Dammam to three, up from the present two.
“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