SL targets one million Indian tourists by 2020 | Sunday Observer

SL targets one million Indian tourists by 2020

Tourism Minister John Ameratunga with the IATO Executive Committee
Tourism Minister John Ameratunga with the IATO Executive Committee

Sri Lanka will welcome 400,000 Indian tourists this year and the country’s target is to aim for one million Indian tourists by 2020. Therefore, it is important to promote the Indian MICE sector in Sri Lanka, Chairman, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Prema Cooray told guests at the inaugural Outbound Convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) in Colombo last week.

The convention was held from October 2 to 4 and was also the first time that the association held its convention outside India.

India’s outbound tourism sector is growing at a rapid 20% and is expected to reach 50 million travellers by 2020.

This is the third major travel convention hosted by Sri Lanka in less than a year having hosted the French Travel Agents Convention in Colombo last November and the PATA Annual Convention in May this year. The theme for this year’s IATO Outbound Convention was ‘Regional Tourism - Beyond Boundaries’.

The Convention was inaugurated by Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga and Minister of Special Assignments, Sarath Amunugama at the Taj Samudra Hotel in Colombo.

Over 160 high profile delegates representing India’s travel and tourism sectors were present.

President, IATO Pranab Sarkar in his address appreciated the lengths to which the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, the official host and the national carrier SriLankan had gone to in order to make the event a reality.

“Sri Lanka is now an exciting destination for the Indian traveller. Contrary to various perceptions Indians are the biggest spenders on shopping in both Singapore and London.

They are on the lookout for new destinations and considering the excellent connectivity with over 150 flights a week and short distance, Sri Lanka is becoming the first choice,” he said. Minister Sarath Amunugama recalled the close relationship Sri Lanka has shared with India over many centuries.

“Rekindled interest in the Ramayana Trail is a positive sign in attracting Indian tourists. With India’s outbound market growing at a pace only second to China, Sri Lanka is well placed to benefit from this boom,” said Minister Amunugama who also emphasised that Sri Lanka is one of the safest destinations for tourists.

Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said that Sri Lanka offered everything the Indian tourist could desire within a very short travel period.

“Colombo will soon be an entertainment hub with all the top hotel brands coming in to the country.

“Be it gaming and entertainment, shopping, adventure, wellness, sports or cultural tourism Sri Lanka has it all,” he said.

Minister Amaratunga called upon the delegates to explore the country.

Leading travel and tourism industry personalities from India and Sri Lanka participatef as panellists.

The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) is the National Apex Body of Tour Operators with a membership of over 1,600 across India. 

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