Colombo, Feb 7 (NIA) – Sri Lanka and Israel have discussed the possibility of establishing direct air links in order to increase the number of tourist arrivals into the island nation, the Tourism Ministry said here Tuesday.
The Ministry said renewed efforts are being made to position Sri Lanka as an attractive destination for the outbound Middle East tourism market. The star performer for Sri Lanka in the Middle East market last year was Israel which grew by an impressive 33.4 percent year on year in a scenario where overall growth from the region was 6.5 percent.
“In order to consolidate this growth trend Sri Lanka Tourism is paying special attention to the Israeli outbound market which is estimated at 16 million travelers, double the country’s population, which denotes the fact that its citizens undertake multiple foreign trips during the course of a year,” the Ministry said.
A Sri Lankan delegation headed by Tourism Minister, John Amaratunga is currently in Tel Aviv, to attend the 23rd annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM 2017) taking place at the Tel Aviv Convention Centre on February 7-8.
Representatives of 40 countries and regions are participating at the exhibition this year with an anticipated attendance of over 20,000 visitors.
Among the countries taking part are Sri Lanka, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Belarus, Spain, Catalonia, Finland, Lapland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Georgia, the US, Portugal, Malta, Poland, Kyrgyzstan, India, Korea, the Philippines, Nepal, Vietnam, Japan, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Morocco, Ecuador, and Panama among others.
The Sri Lankan delegation held a meeting with the leading tour operators of Israel on the side-lines of the IMTM and some of the key topics discussed during the meeting were establishing direct air links between the two countries and possibility of arranging charter operations commencing next summer.
Other options of connectivity, and trade promotion were also discussed.
The Ministry said following the positive outcome of the meeting it was decided to follow up with operational level meetings in the near future.
“In order to achieve our targets we need to aggressively market Sri Lanka at the appropriate fora so as to secure our share of the international tourism pie. The Middle East is a lucrative market that needs to be carefully nurtured. With the travel issues in Europe and US this is our opportunity to woo the Middle East,” Minister Amaratunga said.