CHANDIGARH: Sri Lanka is expecting a healthy growth in the number of Indian tourists arrivals this year as the island nation is out to woo travelers even from smaller cities, a senior Lankan tourism official has said here. Sri Lanka has seen a substantial growth in tourist arrivals from India last year, with over 3.84 lakh travelers.”However, this year we are targeting 4.50 lakh tourists from India,” Viranga Bandara, Assistant Director-Marketing, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau has said here.
“Mainly, we get tourists from the main metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai; those are main tourism generating hubs for Sri Lanka tourism. But we are also targeting smaller cities,” he said. Upekkha Samaratunga, Minister (Commercial) Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi, said that according to Sri Lanka tourism statistics, “India is No. 1 when it comes to inward traffic to the island nation.”
“We look forward to have travelers from India throughout the year irrespective of any season. Most of the Indians like to travel short distance on a competitive budget, in that scenario Sri Lanka has become quite popular. However, we are also targeting the high-end tourists from various parts of India, including Chandigarh and neighboring towns like Ludhiana,” Samaratunga told PTI here. About Sri Lankan food, she said that there is lot of similarity “in our cuisine and what we find in many parts of south India. We also use lot of coconut in our preparations, like it is used in south India.”
“Sri Lankan cinnamon, pepper and other products are quite popular among the Indians. Through tourism, we can expand our trading relations as well, as India is our key trading partner. Tourism will also help enhance people-to-people contact between the two neighbors and further strengthen our relations,” she further said. Both Samaratunga and Bandara were here in connection with a tourism promotion event.
The island nation has held a roadshow in Chandigarh, which was organized by Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau. The roadshow in Chandigarh is a part of Sri Lanka Tourism’s 7-city roadshow in India, and Chandigarh is the first city in this series. Plans are underway to jointly work with airlines and tour operators to promote the destination more aggressively, Bandara said.”As a Tourism Promotion Bureau, we have created the platform for tour operators and hoteliers to come down to Chandigarh and meet the potential tour operators from this city for a business discussion. We have recognized Chandigarh as one of the potential market for us,” he said.
He said that India is number one market in terms of tourists arrivals followed by China, UK and Germany.”Just to name a few popular destinations in Sri Lanka visited by tourists include, Kandy, Colombo and Bentota. Besides, we have destinations for wildlife, pristine beaches and diverse range of products for Indian tourists,” he said. PTI