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Sri Lankan Airlines facilitates collaborative effort to boost SL’s tourism industry

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An interactive session organized by the Sri Lankan Airlines at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, served as a platform for fostering collaboration between top UK tourism agencies and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry. The purpose of this event was to collectively strategize and enhance Sri Lanka's position as a leading, multifaceted tourist destination.

Regional Manager for Europe and Americas of SriLankan Airlines Chinthaka Weerasinghe underscored the importance of the UK as a vibrant and high income earning market in Sri Lanka's tourism sector. He said that despite challenges, Sri Lanka has experienced rapid growth in tourists arrivals, achieving 70% of pre-COVID levels in 2023. Emphasizing the airline's commitment to furthering tourism growth in 2024, Weerasinghe highlighted the expanded focus on social media promotions and targeting niche segments like carbon-neutral tourism utilities. He reiterated that Sri Lankan Airlines is not only a facilitator of air transportation but also a key promoter of Sri Lankan tourism.

Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Rohitha Bogollagama emphasized the imperative for increased awareness among the UK tour operators and the Government of Sri Lanka, stressing the importance of mutual collaboration to enhance Sri Lanka's tourism efforts. High Commissioner Bogollagama also highlighted HRH Princess Anne's recent visit to Sri Lanka as a testament to the close bond between Sri Lanka and the UK.

The Q&A session between the Foreign Minister and the UK tour operators explored various topics, including travel investment, streamlining online visa processes, diversifying Sri Lanka's image beyond a beach destination, sports tourism,  gastro-tourism, educational and awareness programs targeting the mainstream British community, increased funding for tourism promotions, and addressing the role of competitors.

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry addressed all raised points, offering solutions and taking notes for further discussion with the Ministers of Tourism and Airport and Aviation. In his concluding speech, the Minister highlighted a remarkable 106% year-on-year growth in tourism. He attributed this success to partnerships with tour agencies, the resilience and the goodness of the Sri Lankan people, and the trust Sri Lanka has continued to build with the international community over the years. Stressing the significance of the relationship with the UK tour operators, he expressed a commitment to further strengthen ties for mutual benefit.

As Sri Lanka solidifies its position as a premier tourist destination, SriLankan Airlines and its partners are poised to drive sustained growth, fostering stronger ties between the UK and Sri Lanka.

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