SAYONI BHADURI – Mumbai
|Sanath Jaysuriya along with Ajantha Mendis and Angelo Mathews at Sri Lankan night organised by Sri Lanka Tourism in Mumbai|
Sri Lanka’s faith in India as a source market for their tourism industry is strong. Bhashwara Senanka Gunarathna, chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) informed that they are expecting 4,00,000 Indians travelling to Sri Lanka by 2016. “In 2012 we saw 1,76,340 Indians coming to Sri Lanka, in 2013 this figure rose to 2,00,000,” he added.
This is part of the tourism strategy that Sri Lanka devised in 2011 informed Rumy Jauffer, MD, SLTPB. To achieve this number SLTDA and SLTPB conducted three-day promotional campaigns, ‘Get Sri Lankaned’, in Bengaluru and Mumbai. “We are looking to promote Sri Lanka in cities of Pune, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Kochi,” added Jauffer. Gunarathna also said, “We are looking at opening a tourism office in India in 2013.” The office will be based either in Mumbai or Bengaluru. Sri Lanka has also opened doors to their second international airport – Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport at Hambantota. Jauffer informed that the aviation departments of the two nations are in talks to increase flights from and to India from Hambantota.
Upekkha Samaratunga, consul general, Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Mumbai said, “The GDP of Sri Lanka in 2012 was seven per cent and the per capita income US$ 280. We saw saw 8.9 per cent reduction in poverty. By 2016 we aim to bring down inflation by four per cent and grow travel remittances to US$ seven billion.” She added that India is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner both as a source in investment and source for tourism.