Lonely Planet designates paradise nation as number one to visit in 2019
Tourism has been growing steadily in Sri Lanka over the past decade. We started by asking John Amaratunga, Hon. Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka, to tell us more.
Arrivals which stood at 450,000 in 2009 are expected to rise to three million by the end of this year. This rapid growth in a matter of a decade has resulted in a complete transformation of the industry from a sleepy, laid back sun, sea and sand destination to the vibrant, multifaceted destination that we are known to be today. Our core tourism product of sun and sea has now evolved in to an experiential offering complemented by so many other options such as culture, history, scenic, adventure, culinary and wellness experiences among others. There is so much to do, so much to see and so much going on that even the most fastidious traveller will be spoilt for choice. Sri Lanka has been designated as the number one country to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet. This is the ultimate accolade for Sri Lanka.
THIS IS THE ULTIMATE ACCOLADE FOR SRI LANKA
What “kinds” of tourism are emerging as sweet spots?
Even as we speak the final arrangements are being made for the globally acclaimed Ironman marathon event which is being held in Sri Lanka for the second consecutive year. World surfing events are also lined up to be held later this year. So, sports tourism is definitely gaining traction in addition to Sri Lanka’s growing reputation as a fantastic destination for wellness tourism. The other high growth segment is adventure tourism which is seeing unprecedented growth. MICE tourism is also growing year on year.
How are promotional activities being developed on a global scale?
All our promotional activities around the world will be anchored on the So Sri Lanka campaign that is to be launched here. The thrust of the campaign will be directed at our key source markets namely India, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Russia. However promotional activities will be carried out on a less intense level in many of the other markets. With faster travel times due to direct connectivity and cheaper ights the whole world is now our marketplace and we will make sure that our presence is felt globally.
How important is ITB Berlin as a platform to get your message out to travel professionals around the world?
ITB Berlin is undoubtedly the biggest and most in uential travel fair in the world. Everybody who’s somebody in the global tourism trade is at ITB and therefore it is the ideal platform for us to reach out to the world. Sri Lanka has been participating at ITB almost since its inception and we have seen it grow from strength to strength over the years and we have been a part of its success story. This is why we didn’t have a second thought in selecting ITB as the platform of choice for the launch of our promotional campaign.
Hall 5.2a / Stands 107, 119, 120
Photo: John Amaratunga – Hon. Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka