June 17, Colombo: Sri Lanka was prominently featured at a luxury Travel Show, held in the Dutch capital Amsterdam recently, according to the Sri Lanka Embassy in The Netherlands.
Following the Easter Sunday terror attacks on 21 April this year and the issuance of negative travel advisories by several countries, including The Netherlands, tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka plummeted.
Many Dutch people who had intended to visit Sri Lanka cancelled their travel plans in light of the travel advisory issued by the Dutch Government, with only those having urgent business visiting Sri Lanka.
However, with the swift action taken by the Police and the security forces to track down and apprehend the remaining members of the terrorist group which had carried out the attacks and the consequent return to normalcy in the country, the Embassy of Sri Lanka undertook strong and effective lobbying efforts to persuade the Dutch authorities to review their travel advisory on Sri Lanka. Accordingly, the Dutch Government relaxed the travel advisory on 31 May 2019, following consultations with other EU Member States.
Subsequently, the Embassy has been receiving several inquiries from potential Dutch travelers, who are keen to visit Sri Lanka. Based on this positive trend, the Embassy of Sri Lanka initiated a proactive engagement with the Travel Trade to promote Sri Lanka as a safe, friendly and hospitable destination.
As part of this initiative, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka, A.M.J. Sadiq participated in the inauguration of Amsteluxe, the first ever luxury travel show/workshop held in the Benelux region, last Tuesday, 11 June 2019 at Soho House in Amsterdam, which was packed to capacity with tour operators promoting high end tourist destinations around the world.
Malik J. Fernando, Managing Director of Resplendent, representing three high end resorts, namely Tea Trails, Cape Weligama and Wild Coast Tented Lodge, as well as the Sri Lanka Collection, showcasing several luxury boutique hotels, resorts and brands in Sri Lanka, including Teardrop Hotels, Manor House Concepts, Santani and Water Garden Sigiriya participated in this travel show cum workshop.
Ambassador Sadiq, speaking at the inauguration of this luxury travel show, congratulated Shane Collier, the Founder of Amsteluxe on his bold and visionary initiative in promoting luxury tourist destinations across the world, and expressed his appreciation to Mr Collier for affording this opportunity to project Sri Lanka, as a top notch tropical island paradise to visit, for the high net worth clients, represented by the tour operators and agencies in the Benelux region attending the show.
He further stated that The Netherlands is an important high end tourism generating source country for Sri Lanka. Due to the vigorous promotional efforts undertaken by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, it has been possible to achieve a sustained, year on year double digit growth in tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka from The Netherland since 2015.
The Dutch tourist arrivals figure which was a mere 24,196 in 2014, hit an all-time record of 57,160, representing a phenomenal 136% cumulative growth over the last four years, the largest expansion in tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka from any Western European country.
The Ambassador urged the travel operators present to actively promote Sri Lanka among their high end clients and also encouraged them to visit Sri Lanka to experience at first hand, the warm and innate hospitality of the Sri Lankan people and of course, the scenic and natural beauty of the island in its many splendored diversity.
Ambassador Sadiq availed himself of the Amsteluxe luxury travel show to launch the book titled “Dutch Heritage of Sri Lanka”, a hard cover glossy publication featuring well researched articles and color photographs of the various Dutch colonial era forts, churches and other monumental heritage buildings in Sri Lanka, published by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau. The Ambassador presented the first edition of the book to Collier and the second copy to Fernando.
Mr. Collier has since reported to the Embassy that the two exclusive Sri Lankan destination operators, Resplendent and Sri Lanka Collection, as well as Hummingbird, promoting Sri Lanka and some other countries, had received several positive inquiries from tour operators at the show which are expected to result in many of their high end clients visiting Sri Lanka in the near future, giving a much needed fillip to the tourist industry in the country.