Plans underway to increase direct flights to SL

  • Kimarli focuses on France, Germany and Russia
  • Says at final stages of the global marketing campaign tender
  • Adds resumption of Maldives tourism won’t hurt SL

By Imsha Iqbal  

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) is currently discussing with a number of airlines to start direct flights from the countries a higher number of tourists arrive in Sri Lanka with the expectation of improving air connectivity globally. 

Speaking to The Morning Business, SLTDA Chairman Kimarli Fernando stated: “We reach out to the airlines directly because people look for direct flights to the country. We have never done this before.” 

Fernando said that SLTDA focuses on countries such as France, Germany, and Russia in bringing direct flights. The initiative in bringing direct flights from France has been achieved.  

The promotions are also in place to promote wellness tourism in the said countries, which includes Ayurveda, hela wedakama (indeginious medicine in Sri Lanka), meditation, and even yoga. 

“The SLTDA is also at the final stages of the tender which was initially approved by the Cabinet of the Ministers which grants permission to conduct global promotions in a total of eight countries. Apart from France, Germany, and Russia, the UK, China, India, and the UAE are among the rest of the countries that are focused on promotions,” Fernando said.

“We are now focusing on business-to-consumer (B2C) while maintaining business-to-business (B2B). We reached out to consumers, while informing that Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in Asia which is fully open for tourism along with the progressive vaccination drive,” said Fernando, emphasising that the SLTDA’s expectation is to inform tourists on the current situation in the country with the prevailing pandemic.

Fernando added that the SLTDA is working very closely with other stakeholders along with the anticipation of 1.1 million tourists this year. 

She commended the inter-ministerial tourism programme that was initiated by the Ministry of Tourism while requesting the private sector to engage in the industry “with a higher yield”. 

Responding to the inquiry we made on the impact of how Maldivian tourist promotion would affect Sri Lanka, Fernando said beach tourism has been marketed as luxury tourism for many years by the Maldives, but there are unique aspects to Sri Lanka in terms of tourism other than beach tourism alone. 

“Sri Lanka offers something different from the Maldives and I do not want to compare something different,” explained Fernando, saying that Sri Lanka has its wildlife, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, vegan food, and its hospitable people. 

Plans underway to increase direct flights to SL