Sri Lankan Tourism will be the Premier Partner at WTM London 2019 as the island’s tourism industry continues it’s resolute for recovery.
The high-profile partnership will ensure global coverage for the Indian Ocean destination, which has also teamed with legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara to help tourism bounce back.
As a spokesman for Sri Lanka Tourism and the first non-British to be elected to the Presidency of Marylebone Cricket Club MCC based at Lord’s, Sangakkara will promote the destination’s key tourist attractions which are being marketed under the new brand ‘So Sri Lanka’.
During an interview announcing the partnership, Sangakkara said: “I am very confident that tourists who come to Sri Lanka will have a wonderful time. I have seen the country recover very well in terms of ensuring the security of both its nationals and tourists from all over the world. Those who come to Sri Lanka want to experience the country in full.”
The Premier Partnership deal with WTM London will mean thousands of international travel trade professionals and buyers will see the new ‘So Sri Lanka’ branding, and hundreds of journalists and influencers will hear about the country’s culture, scenery and heritage.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau will share its exhibition space at WTM London (Stand AS200) with 67 travel trade partners, including hotels, travel agencies, resorts and operators – all united in their mission to help the country rebuild its tourism trade.
Tourist numbers plunged by 70% in the wake of April’s tragic events, but concerted efforts by the Sri Lankan tourist industry mean the recovery is happening faster than expected, with these efforts, in September the drop was narrowed to just 20%, the destination outlook is positive to bounce back at the end of the year.
According to the Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife & Christian Religious Affairs Hon. John Amaratunga: “The government has done everything possible to regain the popularity for the destination by building confidence carrying out various aggressive promotional campaigns. We are fortunate to have the world unitedly supporting us and rallying around to help the tourism industry, this has helped spread economic benefits far-reaching to many other important economic sectors too; and also to local communities who need it most.
“Tourism is a lifeline to Sri Lanka’s economy, unlike in the past, it has become connected to everyone in the country. Before long, tourism will definitely be the number one revenue earner for Sri Lanka”
Tourist arrivals in 2018 had reached a record 2.3 million – worth almost $4.4 billion – and numbers still look set to top two million in 2019.
Coverage of the island’s remarkable natural beauty, rich heritage and welcoming locals are certainly playing a role in supporting its recovery. It has almost 1,600 kilometres of palm-fringed coastlines, while the interior offers the chance to explore tea plantations, spice gardens, national parks, lush jungle and waterfalls. Sri Lanka is one of the top places in Asia for spotting wildlife, such as elephants, sloth bears, leopards, wild buffaloes and even the elusive blue whale, in their natural habitat.
Along with natural wonders, the island has thousands of years of history for visitors to discover, including six cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, plus palaces, temples and monasteries.
Visitors can also experience the benefits of Ayurveda, Sri Lanka’s traditional art of healing, and restore their body and soul at the island’s many wellness retreats and resorts. Furthermore, food and hospitality play a crucial role in the country’s culture, with tourists able to enjoy a wide variety of curry and meat dishes, soups, seafood and vegetarian cuisine. Coconut milk is a distinctive ingredient in many meals, and the island is world-renowned for its tea.
WTM London’s Senior Director, Simon Press, said: “WTM London is delighted to announce Sri Lanka as its Premier Partner for 2019.
“It has been so heartening to see the country recover from the appalling events last Easter, and it looks set to have a busy winter season.
“Being WTM London’s Premier Partner means Sri Lanka can entice trade buyers and media from across the globe, which will help visitor numbers return to or even surpass the levels seen in 2018 – boosting the country’s economy and helping to provide jobs for thousands of workers.”