Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for Saudi families to spend their holidays, a senior official from SriLankan Airlines said at a presentation held in Colombo recently.
Lal Perera, head of worldwide sales at SriLankan Airlines, made the statement while addressing local and international delegates at the “SriLankan Holidays and SriLankan MICE Conference 2013” held at the Jetwing Blue resort in Negombo.
Perera was briefing foreign journalists on the airline’s products and services at a workshop held during the conference.
Perera said: “We have tailored various packages for the convenience of Saudi tourists who come with their families for tourism. We have adequate facilities for halal food and Arabic-speaking guides to assist Arab travelers,” adding that tour packages could be designed to suit the needs of different categories of travelers.
Perera said: “Through the conference, we are hoping to enlighten participants about our products and services while educating them on effective methods in promoting Sri Lanka as a holiday destination.”
“We are hopeful that we will be able to increase the number of tourists to Sri Lanka and beyond.”
The SriLankan Holidays and the MICE Department of SriLankan Airlines jointly organized the event with the ultimate aim of promoting tourism in the country, in keeping with Sri Lanka’s target of attracting 2.5 million tourists by 2016.
The conference attracted more than 150 participants, including SriLankan Holidays Franchise Operators (SHFO), SLH Ground Operators (SHGO), MICE Operators and foreign media representatives.
Nishantha Wickremasinghe, chairman of SriLankan Airlines, who was brought to the platform to the tune of the traditional Kandyan dancers, said: “Since the end of the war, Sri Lanka has become one of the safest countries to explore and a popular family holiday getaway. The growing number of tourist arrivals is a good indication of the appeal of our wildlife, beaches and hospitality.”
The government of Colombo is striving to promote Sri Lanka as a leading touristic destination and has chalked out a strategic plan to double Saudi tourists from 19,500 to 40,000 in the next three years.
Wickremasinghe said that as the national carrier, SriLankan Airlines is actively involved in the expansion of country’s industry at a time when the country is increasingly receiving global attention.
“Sri Lanka’s transformation from a typical holiday getaway to an important MICE destination sought after by international event-planners can bring in dividends in time to come,” he asserted.
The conference highlighted services provided by the airline, as well as the various products and services of SriLankan Holidays and the characteristics that make SriLankan Airlines a suitable carrier for both business and leisure travelers.
The daylong program included speeches by Chairman Jetwing, Hiran Cooray and General Manager, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Vipula Wanigasekera; presentations workshops, and one-to-one meetings during which local tour operators and delegates exchanged their experiences for the benefit of the business travel.
The island has a diverse range of attractions, including beaches, Ayurveda medicine, sports and adventures, festivals, scenic beauty and wildlife.
There are 12 flights flying to and from Colombo from the three major airports of Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah.