Chairman SriLankan Airlines Nishantha Wickremasinghe and CEO Manoj Gunawardena with US and Canadian tour operators who participated in the national carrier sponsored familiarisation tour. Pic by Daminda Harsha Perera
SriLankan Airlines on Friday expressed interest to break into the North American market by 2011 to meet the increased demand in tourism.
The move is whilst increasing inbound tourism from that country could also set the pace for similar action in other countries that have a high tourism potential but still remain untapped.
Chief Executive Officer of SriLankan Airlines Manoj Gunawardena speaking at a media conference organised to announce the completion of the USA-Canada tour operator familiarisation tour said the airline was looking at possibilities to penetrate the North American market.
Claiming that measures were being taken to identify and bring in new types of tourists to Sri Lanka moving away from the traditional tourists the country has been trying to attract over the years. Gunawardena stated that the tourist potential in many destinations which have not yet made it to the country's 'top 10 tourism generating markets' were now being analysed. In keeping with this trend, markets such as China and Russia which are fairly new to Sri Lanka will see aggressive promotional campaigns by the airline.
According to Sri Lanka Tourism statistics 2344 tourists from North America have arrived in the island in the month of September this year, which is an increase of 42.5 per cent over September 2009. On the whole, Sri Lanka has seen 29, 185 tourists from North America within the first nine months of 2010 as compared to 17, 416 tourists in the same period in 2009.
The USA-Canada tour operator familiarisation tour which kicked off on Monday (4) saw six tour members from USA and six from Canada. The group consisted of tour operators as well as two travel photographers/ journalists. The group has toured most parts of the country except the North and East due to time constrains. The familiarisation tour was organised to increase awareness on Sri Lanka in the two countries following the New York Times listing Sri Lanka as the top destination to visit, and National Geo listing it as the number two island in the world early this year.