Sri Lanka bets on Indian visitors to boost tourism

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Kolkata, July 31 (IANS) Sri Lanka is betting big on Indian visitors as the island nation is expecting a 20 per cent growth in arrival of travellers to 2.4 million in the current year, an official said on Tuesday.

“Last year, about two million international visitors travelled to Sri Lanka and we expect it to reach 2.4 million this year. Of two million visitors, there were over three lakh Indians,” Sri Lanka Convention Bureau’s Chairman Kumar De Silva said on the sidelines of an interactive session organised by MCCI.

According to him, India is the largest source market for tourists for Sri Lanka.

Of the total visitors, about 90 per cent were tourists and the rest was for other purposes including business engagements, he said, adding that the country was also focusing at travellers for business meetings.

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There is growing cooperation between two neighbouring countries and the target markets for Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition (MICE) are cities close to Sri Lanka, said De Silva.

Sri Lankan Airlines’ Country Manager Lalit Peiris said the carrier operates 122 direct flights per week from 14 Indian cities to Colombo though the airline has no plan, at present, to expand it in India.

However, from Kolkata, during the festive season of Durga Puja, the carrier proposes to increase to four flights per week against three flights a week during the rest of the year.

De Silva said tourism has been one of the top foreign exchange earners for the country and it could become the largest in years to come.

–IANS

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