SRI Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) is stepping up marketing efforts to India with the planned opening of three offices in India, beginning with a Mumbai launch in July.
“Currently, 33 per cent of India’s outbound to Sri Lanka is from Mumbai alone,” said Bhashwara Gunarathna, chairman, SLTPB.
The bureau will follow the Mumbai launch with the opening of its New Delhi and Bengaluru offices by end-2013, in a bid to expand market share, develop revenue and tap into newer, Tier Two Indian markets, while also allowing partners to develop and establish business growth in India.
The bureau presently relies on its consulate or partners in India to generate business.
In 2012, India accounted for 18 per cent of Sri Lanka’s total tourist arrivals or 170,000 visitors. Sri Lanka is aiming for 200,000 arrivals from India this year and 400,000 by 2016.
To tap this market, the SLTPB recently announced MICE booking incentives and all-inclusive tours with Thomas Cook India’s general sales agent, Sparklink Travels. It also reiterated that visa fees for all SAARC countries, on arrival or via ETA, were reduced to U$15 in 2012.
Rumy Jauffer, managing director, SLTPB, said: “Sri Lanka makes an ideal destination for Indian travellers due to its close proximity and easy visa access.
“Sri Lanka’s second international airport at Hambantota will also be fully operational in the next few months, improving connectivity to the south and south-east parts of the country.”
Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport first opened on March 18 (TTG Asia e-Daily, March 7, 2013).
National carrier SriLankan Airlines currently flies direct to Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kochi, Chennai, Tiruchirapalli and Trivandrum. Including Jet Airways, Air India and SpiceJet, about 100 flights operate between India and Sri Lanka weekly.