Oct 7, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka tourism sector needs to look into travel booking platforms using internet and mobile technology to attract more visitors to the island, an analysts told a forum held in Colombo.
“One of the consumer surveys that we did shows that foremost of any travel booking is use of internet,” Shabori Das, senior analyst of EuroMonitor, a research firm told a tourism forum held in Sri Lanka, Colombo.
“We google almost everything these days and that is the same thing with travel booking as well,” she said.
Internet users are more comfortable and at ease with making online bookings and purchases due to increase of access to smartphones and with the improvement of global connectivity.
Das says according to a survey done by EuroMonitor, the respondents who used internet for travel searches, online search emerge as the first step for travel bookings.
“I have taken US, UK, India and China as leading source markets for Sri Lanka, India and Maldives and find that 60 percent of all bookings are made though using internet, by travel websites and using social media,” Das said.
“Even Mobile application has emerged immensely as a travel booking method.”
She said that reports shows that more than 50 percent of bookings in India and China done by mobile travel channels.
“This has become extremely common around the globe,”
“But when it comes to Sri Lanka and Maldives, the consent of mobile channelings is almost negligible.”
“Any company who is in this trade needs to look at mobile travelling phase. This is kind of a channel that no longer can be avoided in any economy or in any country who is planning to become big tourist destination.”
Sri Lanka was visited by 1.31 million tourists up to September up from 17.1 percent from a year earlier.
For the month of September Sri Lanka welcomed 1.43 million visitors, up 35.9 percent in September 2015 from a year ago.
Sri Lanka is now drawing attention of the world with the end of Tamil tiger war in 2009. The government of Sri Lanka is backing increased internet penetration by giving free Wi-Fi access around the island.
“I always book hotels using internet, which is very easy for me. Even though I book hotels in Sri Lanka it is easier to book a hotel though online rather than calling them several times,” Nuwan Gunarathne, an IT professional told LBO.
Thailand based Asiarooms.com was one of the regional pioneers from the 1990s that still exist while Agoda.com, which has a selling model of discount rooms also became popular.
Data showed that Agoda.com had about 30 Sri Lankan hotel listed in 2009, and by October 2015 Agoda has thousands of Sri Lankan properties including luxury to rooms and offers 582 choices in Kandy and 382 in Colombo.
Booking.com, an Amsterdam based firm which is also owned by Priceline has 4020 properties listed for Sri Lanka.
“I prefer to book a hotel though internet, so that I can read what other travelers has experienced in the same hotel and get help tips also. I read about 2-4 sites for reviews before making a booking.Plus the booking sites offer competitive prices than the original hotel price and we get a chance to select which price we are going for,” D. Dassnayake , an management professional told LBO.
“The other advantage as a constant traveler I have is to comment on the hotel. I have spent nights in some so called star class hotels who has below the level service. Comments on those will help the other travelers to think twice before booking and also to the hotel to get improved.”
Sri Lanka tourism board official said the island gets 60 percent bookings though online platforms.