Sri Lanka, Finland look to attract more UAE visitors

Sri Lanka, Finland look to attract more UAE visitors
The Sri Lankan delegation at the 2019 Arabian Travel Market

Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Mon 29 Apr 2019, 10:28 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 Apr 2019, 12:35 AM

With a wealth of offerings that will appeal to any type of traveller, tourism and hospitality vendors from Sri Lanka and Finland have highlighted their plans to attract a growing number of travellers from the UAE and the GCC.
Speaking at the 2019 Arabian Travel Market, Kishu Gomes, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, said that the country had recorded a steady growth in travellers from the UAE, who were attracted to its beautiful beaches and historical sites. He highlighted plans for a new global tourism strategy that would encompass a number of different segments including nature tourism, cultural tourism, culinary tourism, sports tourism, and adventure tourism.
Similarly, Vipula Gunatilleka, CEO of SriLankan Airlines, noted that the Middle East is among the airline's most significant markets. "Going forward, we will announce plans to enhance services to the region and improve our business class offerings as we aim for a bigger slice of the luxury travel market."
More than 2.5 million tourists from the Middle East made travel plans to Sri Lanka in 2018, and with more than five per cent originating from the GCC, SriLankan Airlines is currently evaluating how best to build on the 45 weekly flights it has to the region. Future plans include transforming the airline into a major hub-and-spoke network operator with a streamlined and efficient hub in Colombo, servicing its own and alliance partner flights. SriLankan Airlines already offers daily flights to Colombo from all the major cities in the GCC on its all-Airbus fleet.
Joonas Halla, PR and media manager at Business Finland, revealed that the destination was slowly gaining in popularity among travellers in the UAE. Finland welcomed almost 12,000 tourists from the UAE in 2018, data by Visit Finland, the Finnish tourist authority, revealed.
"Looking back at 2018, we saw another successful year for the Finnish tourism industry; not only did the number of visitors from the UAE increase by 20 per cent from 9,906 in 2017 to 11,951 in 2018, but the number overnight stays during the winter season also doubled. In Lapland alone, the number of UAE visitors increased by more than 35 per cent to 2,791 between 2017 and 2018," he said.
"This year, we have already witnessed remarkable growth, with UAE visitor numbers increasing by 131 per cent in January 2019 compared to January 2018, and 110 per cent in February compared to the same month last year, so we are confident our tourism numbers and receipts will eclipse the successes of 2018," he added.

The Finnish delegation at ATM 2019
The Finnish delegation at ATM 2019

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