Manoj Gunawardena, Head of Worldwide Passenger Sales, said: “We are fully focused on our responsibility as the National Carrier to support our own tourism industry, although the airline itself has a thriving business in transit passengers travelling through our hub in Colombo.”
SriLankan’s most recent promotion in India offers discounted fares throughout the month of February for Indian travellers below the age of 27 to enjoy exciting holidays in Sri Lanka. One condition of the offer is that travellers must spend a minimum of three days in Sri Lanka. In the past, travel advisories in European countries have led to drops in arrivals from some of the island’s traditional tourism markets, although tourists have never been targeted in the country’s conflict.
The airline has invested heavily in recent years in publicising Sri Lanka as a destination in India, drawing attention to its value for money shopping, wide range of cuisine, superior hotel and convention facilities, cultural wonders, and diverse climates and landscapes.
SriLankan Airlines is the only international carrier to have 100 flights per week to India, serving 11 cities there - New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Trichy, Trivandrum, Cochin, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Goa, Coimbatore and Calicut. Senaka Fernando, Regional Manager Indian Subcontinent & Maldives, said: “India is the largest country of origin of tourists to Sri Lanka, having replaced our earlier traditional markets in Europe every year since 2005.”
More than 100,000 Indians visited in 2007, a number that Sri Lanka Tourism says is expected to double in the next two years.
The airline is focusing attention on the short flying time, with Colombo being only about an hour away from its six destinations in South India. It has also drawn attention to Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport as the finest in South Asia, with its new terminal, aerobridges, comfortable lounges, and well-stocked duty free shopping complex.
The airline also focuses on Indian travellers on board its flights in the region, with a wide selection of North Indian, South Indian and vegetarian dishes, and a modern entertainment system which has the latest releases from Bollywood and the Tamil filmindustry.