From left: Singapore Airlines Sales Manager Radhini Fernando, Singapore Airlines PR & Premium Services Manager Shihana Cader, South Asia, Middle East and Africa Regional Director G. B. Srithar, South Asia Mumbai Director Area Director Adrian Kong, Singapore Airlines General Manager Richard Kwee
By Zahara Zuhair
Colombo is among the top five exit cities in South Asia in 2016 in terms of visitor arrivals for Singapore that indicates a boom in outbound tourism.
“Sri Lanka is an important market for us and for the first time in recent years, we welcomed more than 100,000 visitors in 2016 to Singapore, a 9.5 percent increase over 2015,” Singapore Tourism Board South Asia, Middle East and Africa Regional Director G. B. Srithar said.
He said that these numbers were based on travellers who have spent at least one night in Singapore, but not the travellers who were on transit.
It was shared that from January - December in 2016, Sri Lanka visitor arrivals to Singapore was 101,905. Sri Lankan arrivals to Singapore from January - April in 2017 have been recorded as 31,579.
He said that as Sri Lanka’s middle-class becomes more affluent, there will be good opportunities for international outbound travel and tourism, especially among families, working millennials and incentive movements.
“Sri Lanka is growing in terms of outbound tourism, by various estimates there is a single digit growth in outbounds,” he said.
Adding further, Singapore Airlines (SIA) Sales Manager Radhini Fernando said that there is a growth in Sri Lanka’s out bound tourism, especially in the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions) sector where corporates prefer to take their suppliers and dealers outside.
“Also clients moving from traditional destinations, as Vietnam being one of the preferred destinations. That is one of the trends we have seen on the local travel market,” she said.
These comments were made at a media briefing organized by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Singapore Airlines Group to announce a road show which took place in Colombo last Friday.
Themed, ‘Growing Tourism into Singapore, Together’, through the road show they looked to renew their ties with the travel trade, entrenching existing partnership and forging new ones where 27 Singapore stakeholders and 80 in-market travel agents had participated.
“To Singapore, Sri Lankans enjoy visa-free travel, they can visit any time without visa processing,” Singapore Airlines General Manager Richard Kwee said.
He said that they got a lot of things to offer such as night safari, entertainment parks, cultural historical sites and invited Sri Lankans to make use of promotions that was introduced in parallel to their 70th anniversary.
He also said that though it gives an impression that Singapore products and services are expensive, it is otherwise.
Singapore Airlines operates seven times weekly services on the A330 aircraft between Colombo and Singapore, while its regional wing SilkAir, which started operations to Colombo this year, operates three times weekly between Colombo and Singapore in the mornings.
However, SIA officials said that they have no plans to operate flights to the Mattala airport any time sooner, as for now they will operate flights only to Colombo airport, but said that they will keep reviewing from time-to-time. “It depends on the demand. For now it is Singapore-Colombo and Colombo-Singapore,” Kwee stressed.