Feb 09, Colombo: Sri Lanka Tourism continued its quest to target more Indian tourist arrivals this year by participating at the 25th South Asia Travel & Tourism Exchange (SATTE), South Asia's leading travel trade show held in New Delhi from 31st January to 02nd February 2018.
Sri Lanka was one of the Partner Nations to the event, which is India's biggest and South Asia's largest Travel and Tourism Extravaganza.
The Sri Lanka Pavilion at the Exhibition was inaugurated by High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in India Chitranganee Wagiswara together with the Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), Manager Sri Lankan Airlines in New Delhi and other officials and media.
This year, SLTPB was joined by 52 leading travel agents and hoteliers of the country, showing their interest in expanding their ventures in the Indian market. It was noteworthy that most of the visitors to the pavilion comprised of top decision makers in the Indian travel industry.
SATTE 2018 proved to be an excellent investment for Sri Lanka Tourism due to the unprecedented crowds that thronged the exhibition from the start to the finish. Industry personnel that participated at the fair noted that productivity compared to other travel exhibitions was exceptionally high. The participation, interaction, enthusiasm, and thirst for information was clearly visible throughout the entire fair.
SLTPB focused its attention on promoting film tourism, Destination Wedding, MICE segments, religious and Pilgrimage Tourism, mostly on Ramayanaya Trail, which was given more prominence as it is very popular among the Indian tourists and devotees. A large number of Indian devotees visit Sri Lanka as the Ramayana trail and places related to Ramayana are considered sacred. Ayurveda, cultural diversity and bio diversity are some of the key attractions Indians find exiting as well. India is also a top source for MICE Tourism and SATTE 2018 was an excellent platform to access this lucrative market.
Similar cultural, social and historical connections, going back to the ancient times, have revived interest in Sri Lanka. According to a survey done by SLTPB, 63.7 % of Indians opt for sightseeing excursions and 49.82% go for shopping while 41.64% prefer sea bathing and 32.74% spend hours swimming in the pool. 37.01% Indian travelers visit the historical sites in Sri Lanka while wildlife remains to be the choice for 21% only.
The overall experience of the Indian visitor to Sri Lanka is, as per the survey, has been very delightful for 69.1% and satisfying for 30.69%. Thus, it would be right to mention that nearly 100% Indians visiting Sri Lanka have had a good and enjoyable visit.
The other important highlights of the survey show that, 44.84% Indians came home with a memory of Sri Lanka being a beautiful, tropical country, 29.54% say that the people of Sri Lanka are very kind and hospitable, 24.2% talk about the pristine beaches with golden sand, while 24.20% loved the diverse attractions on this small island. Sri Lanka, in today's date, takes immense pride in 30.25% Indians who knew the country well and wanted to visit again.
These statistics clearly indicate the importance of Sri Lanka as a compact destination blessed with all the natural resources, bio diversity, cultural heritage, pristine beaches and the amazing hospitality of its inhabitants.
In parallel to the event, a press conference was also held in New Delhi, to brief the media where 50 media houses attended the occasion. It gave an opportunity to announce a path breaking record of historic growth, with 384,628 arrivals from the Indian market in 2017. With this fact in mind, destination Sri Lanka now targets 450,000 Indian arrivals this year.
Sri Lanka is growing as a 'destination for all seasons' having been recently awarded as the 'Emerging destination of the yea' by Conde Nast Traveler India, and as 'Asia's leading Tourism destination of the year' in 2017.
On his visit to India, Managing Director, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sutheash Balasubramaniam said, "India continues to be our top source market. We believe that the potential of the Indian travel market is yet to realize in terms of attracting longer stay and higher spending travelers."
"It is our fervent hope to make Sri Lanka the most preferred destination in Asia for Indian travelers. Sri Lanka offers travellers an array of diverse product offerings and experience spread across the small island and caters to all ages," noted Mr. Balasubramaniam.
The impressive statistics endorse the 40% increase in Indian tourist arrivals in January 2018, compared with the same period last year. Maximum advantage should be taken of this opportunity and more promotions, spending and connections should be made with Indian market, SLTPB said.