June 26, 2008

SriLankan Increases Flights to Support Government’s Moves to Woo Middle Eastern Tourists

SriLankan Airlines is closely supporting initiatives by the Government of Sri Lanka to spark a boom in Middle Eastern tourism to the country, by adding more weekly flights to the region.

With this initiative, SriLankan will have 37 weekly connections to nine cities in the Middle East Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Doha, Muscat, Dammam, Riyadh, Jeddah and Kuwait. Additional flights are to three cities Doha which increases from the present 4 flights up to 6; Bahrain which goes from 5 to 7; and Dammam which will have 3 flights, up from the present 2.

The Government has identified the Middle East as one of four major thrust markets to Sri Lanka, and has launched a series of marketing campaigns to raise awareness of the island's attractions. There has been an 80% increase in Middle Eastern tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2008.

Mohamed Fazeel, Regional Manager Middle East, Africa and CIS, said: "We are strengthening our Middle East network, as there has been a significant increase in demand for flights in the region, and we see a lot of potential for growth. Our focus is on leisure travellers, and airline's leisure arm SriLankan Holidays has unveiled several packages to cater especially to Middle Eastern tourists who want to visit Sri Lanka."

Sri Lanka is growing in popularity as a leisure destination among Middle Eastern travellers, and western expatriates working in the region who are drawn to the island's golden beaches, mist-swathed tea plantations, and ancient cultural sites. An increasing number, including women travellers, also try out the country's many adventure sports. Sri Lanka also provides the kind of wholesome fun that is ideal for Arab travellers who often travel in family groups.

Sri Lanka's Ministry of Tourism has taken a keen interest in promoting the country in the Middle East. The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Board has launched a series of advertising campaigns in major media in the Middle East to increase interest in Sri Lanka as a leisure destination. More campaigns are planned for June and July. The National Carrier has supported these measures, and actively participated in the region's biggest travel fair Arabian Travel Mart a few weeks ago where many joint initiatives were discussed.

The airline's new packages include 'Kids Go Free' which encouraged family vacations by offering free packages to children under 12 when their parents bought packages; and 'Island Breaks' which promoted short stopover holidays in Sri Lanka among travellers transiting Colombo to other leisure destinations.

Sri Lanka's award winning carrier now flies to 41 destinations in 22 countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Far East.

About SriLankan AirlinesSriLankan Airlines is expanding its Middle East operations, most recently adding two weekly services to Jeddah to its network starting March 27. The airline also increased its frequencies into Qatar and Bahrain recently, taking the airlines total frequencies into the Middle East to 45 flights a week. The airline has also recently opened up new routes into Asia adding a third weekly service to Goa and launching double daily services to Mumbai earlier this year. The growing number of services to India takes SriLankan Airlines closer to the 100 flights a week mark, and reinforces its position as the foreign carrier with the most number of frequencies into ten key cities across India.

2008 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

Originally published by By Al-Bawaba Reporters.

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