Unawatuna Beach in Sri Lanka. Photo – IRIS Liu via Flickr under creative commons license
Muscat: Sri Lanka is slowly emerging as a perfect destination for Omani families to spend their holidays as 47 per cent of the country is still green of which 27 per cent is forest, a senior official from SriLankan Airlines said at a presentation held in Colombo recently.
Lal Perera, who heads the worldwide sales department at the SriLankan Airlines, made the statement while addressing a large number of travel agents and travel writers from Oman and international delegates at the “SriLankan Holidays and SriLankan MICE Conference 2013” held at the Jetwing Blue resort in Negombo.
Perera was briefing the travel agents on the airline’s products and services at a workshop held during the conference.
Elaborating on this, Lakshman Weerasooriya, Country Manager of SriLankan Airlines-Oman, said they have various packages for the Omani tourists visiting Sri Lanka with their families. “That is the reason SriLankan Airlines, in view of the upturn in passenger-flow, has increased the frequency from Muscat with effect from June 18 to six flights a week from earlier four,” he said.
With fares starting from OMR119, tour packages could be designed to cater to the needs of different categories of travellers. Last year, close to 3,000 Omanis visited Sri Lanka.
Aspiring to become the ‘hub of Asia’, the aim of the conference was to position Sri Lanka internationally as a value for money destination for MICE activities and at promoting tourism in the island in keeping with Sri Lanka’s target of attracting 2.5 million tourists by 2016.
MICE is an acronym for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, a niche market that SriLankan Airlines and other tourism related agencies, including the local travel trade, are seeking to promote.
Today the strength of Sri Lanka is its “diversity in compactness,” and naturally it is currently a popular destination for business events in the South Asian region and SriLankan Airlines is committed to promote Sri Lanka as one of the best tourist destinations.
The airline has a separate department for MICE Tourism that works with local partners to arrange many kinds of events.
According to Chairman of the SriLankan Airlines, Nishantha Wickremasinghe, “After the end of the war, Sri Lanka has become one of the safest countries to be explored and a popular family holiday getaway. The growing number of tourist arrivals is a good indication of the appeal our wildlife, beaches and hospitality have for them.”
SriLankan Airlines’ Head of Commercial G.T. Jeyaseelan said the island nation has modern facilities for holding these events as well as offering MICE tourists the opportunity of enjoying an extended holiday.
“As the national carrier, SriLankan Airlines is also actively involved in the expansion of Sri Lanka’s MICE industry at a time when the country is increasingly receiving global attention. Thus, Sri Lanka’s transformation from a typical holiday getaway to an important MICE destination sought after by the international event planners can bring in dividends in the times to come,” added Mr Wickremasinghe.
The conference educated attendees on MICE services provided by the airline, various products and services of SriLankan Holidays, and the outstanding characteristics that make SriLankan the ideal airline for both business and leisure travellers.
Lal Perera also said, “Through the conference, we hoped to enlighten the participants about our products and services while educating them about the effective methods of promoting Sri Lanka as a MICE and holiday destination. We are hopeful that through raising awareness, we will be able to increase the number of leisure and MICE tourists to Sri Lanka and beyond, with SriLankan as the preferred carrier.”
Getting from place-to-place within the island is much more convenient because of the infrastructural development currently taking place. Today, Colombo has transformed into a top-class and globally recognizable city. Buildings have been restored making it a fantastic place for events, meetings, parties etc. Next month, the government will open a new highway to the airport which will cut down travel time considerably. The Dutch canal has been completed dredged and expanded, enabling visitors to commute by boat from Negombo to Colombo.
New hotels are taking shape, opening up a number of opportunities for meetings, incentive marketing and conference marketing.
Several Mixed Development Projects and Hotel Projects in the country approved by the Board of Investment are expected to generate a large number of tourist arrivals, according several research firms. The development of several tourism zones in the island has already been completed and the government is on a look out for more available land to create hospitality zones.
The day-long programme also included speeches by Chairman Jetwing, Hiran Cooray and General Manager, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Vipula Wanigasekera along with presentations, workshops, and one-to-one meetings during which the local tour operators and delegates had the opportunity to share knowledge and interact with each other.
[Via Times of Oman]