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DateLine Tuesday, 11 November 2008

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British tourist to be key revenue source for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka expects to generate revenue in excess of 81,000 Sterling Pounds by the end of this year from the UK tourism market.

Director UK and Ireland, Sanjaka Perera said the British tourist remains the highest revenue generator to the local tourism industry due to the strength of the Sterling Pound despite the recession. “Their average stay is around eight to 10 days and each spends around 900 Pounds for their stay in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in London Nihal Jayasinghe with Director UK and Ireland, Sanjaka Perera and CEO, SriLankan Airlines Manoj Gunawardane at the opening ceremony at the WTM yesterday. Picture by Shirajiv Sirimane

The skyrocketing oil prices which led to an increase in airfare last June and the present global recession is having a negative impact for the local market. “This has resulted in a drop of nine percent in arrivals.” However the other European county arrivals saw a 15 percent dip and this drop is not much to complain. The recent best arrivals from UK were in 2004 where Sri Lanka saw 104,000.

“Last year this stood at 94,000 and we hope to pass the 90, 000 UK arrival mark to Sri Lanka this year,” he said. Perera who is looking after the UK market for the past six months said they are looking at introducing new products targeting the younger generation.

He said that the Sri Lanka as a host for British weddings is very popular while cricket and colonialism too is a good marketing tool.

The “younger generation is not too keen on cricket and they do not know about British influence in Sri Lanka. They are keen on soccer and Spain, Portugal are some of their main destinations.”

In addition British families with children travelling to Sri Lanka is minimal and is looking to improve this area. After the June 7 bomb explosions in Britain where series of bombs exploded in the tube and buses on June 7 violence in not paying a key part as before. “The public has come to understand that it’s found everywhere and tourists in Sri Lanka were never specifically targeted as in Bali, Egypt and Spain,” he said. “The North-East conflict has only has a 20 percent impact to arrivals,” he said.

The global travel and tourism industry is an incredible force to be reckoned with - regardless of what the financial tsunami decides to throw at it, Chairman of World Travel Market Fiona Jeffery said.

“We simply cannot ignore the crumbling collapses that have scarred international financial markets in recent weeks,” she added speaking at the opening ceremony.

“We have to face the fact that in some parts of the world in 2009 - certainly here in Western Europe - less package holidays will be sold and those that are, will undoubtedly increase in price.”



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