Headed by Anjantha Ratnayake, assistant director, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, a delegation of 20 partners from Sri Lanka’s tourism and hospitality industries visited Dammam and Riyadh and held the roadshow at Holiday Inn Corniche and Holiday Inn Qasr on April 8 and 9, holding one to one meetings and informational seminars with leading travel agency representatives and outbound operators in each city.
Ratnayake said: “The mission has been a resounding success, with excellent attendance with the right partners in each of the cities visited, and our co-participating Sri Lankan industry partners reporting highly productive meetings that will result in increased business and travel to Sri Lanka from the region.”
In 2017, Sri Lanka received a total of 78,873 tourists from the Middle East region with Saudi Arabia topping the rank with the most number of tourist visitor arrival from the region with a total of 35,481 visitors. Currently, there are 28 direct flight services a week connecting Saudi Arabia to Sri Lanka, suggesting the potential to grow and develop the market further, especially as travellers from the country on average have one of the highest travel spends in the world. This will result in not only return dividends for Sri Lanka’s tourism and hospitality industries, but also for the retail industry.
Ratnayake added: “Sri Lanka has much to offer visitors from Saudi Arabia with our distinctive, adventure-packed, eco-friendly, family-focused experiences and offerings, as well as our rich nature, heritage and culture, year-round schedule of festivals and special events, numerous parks and eco-centers, and luxury resorts and wellness centres. Our mission has done much to put Sri Lanka on the map and in the hearts and minds of Saudi-based travel partners, and in combination with future promotions planned for the country and the region, I’m confident we will see many more visitors from Saudi Arabia making Sri Lanka their next holiday destination of choice in the coming months.”
In each of the cities visited, over a hundred key outbound travel professionals attended the Sri Lanka Tourism workshops and seminars to learn more about its touristic offerings and business opportunities. Both events were also attended and supported by Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Azmi Thassim, along with Sri Lankan commercial secretary to Saudi Arabia, Gayan Rajapakse.
A total of 13 industry partners from Sri Lanka-based tourism and hospitality entities joined the roadshow including Aitken Spence Travels, Isra Holidays, Centuria Travels, I Am Sri Lanka, Araliya Green Hills Hotel, Explore The Wonders, and Asian Adventures Travel Management Company, among others.
The Saudi Arabia mission was successfully coordinated by Aviareps, the world’s leading destination marketing and promotion company.