|Monday, 18 August 2003|
Continuous peace, additional airline frequencies and increasing tourist arrivals are expected to boost Sri Lanka's Winter season holiday traffic this November, with the national carrier and Sri Lanka Tourism going all out to cash in on the prospects.
Soaring in a cloud of optimism, SriLankan Airlines has taken measures to introduce several additional frequencies to London, Paris, Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur. Thirty frequencies will be added to these destinations.
SriLankan, which recorded a profit of Rs. 2 billion for the last financial year, is also planning to acquire two more Airbus A340 long-range aircraft to boost its European and Far Eastern route network and flight frequencies. The airline, which flies to seven Indian destinations and Karachi in Pakistan, has already added an Airbus A320 to enhance regional services.
"Tourist arrivals are seeing a steady increase. We are optimistic of a good Winter season with a 40 - 50 percent rise in Winter traffic," says Sri Lanka Tourism Board (SLTB) Chairman Paddy Withana.
According to SLTB statistics, tourist arrivals during January to June this year recorded a 13 percent increase with 216,144 arrivals, over the 173,136 visitors in 2002.
Arrivals from Western Europe and South Asia increased by a 29 percent and 26.6 percent respectively. Tourist arrivals from East Asia improved by 8.7 percent in June 2003 in comparison to the same month last year.
Sri Lanka remained a prime choice among travellers in the light of increased terrorist activity in South East Asia and the non-detection of any SARS cases in the island.
No major incidents have been reported in Sri Lanka since the signing of the ceasefire agreement.
Specialised holiday options with an indigenous flavour through the Mansion Holiday programme, is one of this year's newest holiday accommodation choices for those visiting Sri Lanka.
The scheme has already found ready favour among Middle Eastern tourists, says Tourism Ministry Additional Secretary George Michael.
The Mansion Holiday programme aims at providing comfortable and more personalised accommodation in family run holiday bungalows, mansions and old walawwas, with the Government providing special tax holidays for those willing to lease out their properties under the scheme.
Targeting upmarket tourists who prefer holiday options of a different kind sans the familiarity of hotel stays, the programme expects a large patronage.
The new initiative is also expected to increase accommodation facilities for tourists by the addition of at least a 1000 rooms, on top of the 13,900 existing rooms.
The government has also formulated long-term plans for facilitating tourist traffic through the expansion of the Bandaranaike International Airport and the construction of a second international airport.
Produced by Lake House