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% year-on-year in a scenario where overall growth from the region was 6.5%.
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 travellers, double the country’s population, which denotes the fact that its citizens undertake multiple foreign trips during the course of a year.
A Sri Lankan delegation headed by Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga is currently in Tel Aviv, Israel to attend the 23rd annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM 2017) taking place at the Tel Aviv Convention Centre from 7-8 February.
Representatives of 40 countries and regions are participating in 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 sidelines of the IMTM on 6 February. The delegation was led by Minister Amaratunga and comprised Senior Advisor Felix Rodrigo, Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Sutheash Balasubramanium, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Israel and First Secretary of the Embassy.
Some of the key topics discussed during the meeting were establishing direct air links between the two countries, the possibility of arranging charter operations commencing next summer, other options of connectivity and trade promotion.