Aussie tourists up 45% in first year of SriLankan direct flights
4 years ago
SriLankan Airlines celebrated the first anniversary of the launch of direct services to Melbourne this month with Australian visitor arrivals to Sri Lanka having grown substantially in the 12 months following the launch. Year on year growth in the 9 months up to 30 th September 2018 was an astounding 45.16%, according to figures from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. This was far higher than the 2.8% growth rate that the tourism industry has experienced from all countries combined during this period. A total of 78,756 Australian visitors travelled to Sri Lanka in the 9 months ending September 2018, to which can be added a further 9,811 from New Zealand, many of whom travelled via Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria. New Zealand arrivals grew by 13.5% in the first 9 months of 2018. These visitor numbers do not include the additional thousands of Sri Lankan passport holders domiciled in Australia and New Zealand who also utilized the Melbourne- Colombo service, such as Sri Lankan students in Australian and New Zealand universities. Australia is home to one of the largest Sri Lankan communities outside Sri Lanka, of which almost 50 percent live in and around Victoria, making Melbourne the convenient terminus for their departures and arrivals. Australia is now firmly established as the 6 th largest tourism generating market to Sri Lanka with a 4.55% market share of foreign visitors, and is also the fastest growing major market. Although it lags behind India, China, UK, Germany and France in terms of volume, its growth rate far surpasses those of the top five countries. Travelers journeying between the Australian continent and the Indian Ocean island nation now enjoy the convenience of daily direct flights between Colombo and Melbourne. Earlier, travelers had to spend many hours flying on other airlines via Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or even as far afield as Bangkok and Hong Kong. On board SriLankan’s modern Airbus A330 aircraft, passengers enjoy SriLankan’s award winning world class service, sophisticated inflight entertainment, delectable cuisine and other comforts such as flatbeds in Business Class. The Airline has upgraded the Melbourne service with the introduction of state of the art A330- 300 aircraft in the second year of operations, providing even greater comforts than the A330-200 aircraft that were operating on the route during the last year. The importance of the Melbourne service was amplified by the almost simultaneous expansion of SriLankan’s codeshare agreement with Australia’s flag carrier and fellow oneworld airline alliance member Qantas, providing passengers with a wide range of options for seamless connectivity to fly to and from major cities in Australia and New Zealand – namely Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney in Australia, and New Zealand’s largest city Auckland. Aussie travelers also use the direct service to Colombo for convenient onward connections to the entire South Asian region, with SriLankan being the largest foreign carrier to both India and the Maldives. There has also been a significant increase in the number of Sri Lankans travelling to Australia, visiting relatives or on vacation, although statistics are not immediately available.