LONDON — Sri Lankan Tourism has been unveiled as the Premier Partner at WTM London 2019 as the island’s tourism industry continues to recover from April’s Easter bombings.
Partnering with the global travel event, which takes place from Nov. 4-6 in London, will ensure global coverage for the Indian Ocean destination, which has also teamed with legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara to help tourism bounce back.
As a spokesman for Sri Lanka Tourism, Sangakkara will promote the destination’s key tourist attractions, which are being marketed under the new brand ‘So Sri Lanka’.
“I am very confident that tourists who come to Sri Lanka will have a wonderful time,” said Sangakkara. “I have seen the country recover very well in terms of ensuring the security of both its nationals and tourists from all over the world. Those who come to Sri Lanka want to experience the country in full.”
The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau will share is exhibition space at WTM London with 67 travel trade partners, including hotels, travel agencies, resorts and operators, all of which will be united in their mission to help the country rebuild its tourism trade.
Tourist numbers plunged by 70% in the wake of April’s tragic events, but recovery is happening faster than expected thanks to concerted efforts by the Sri Lankan tourist industry. In September, the drop was narrowed to just 20%.
“The government has done everything possible to regain the popularity for the destination by building confidence carrying out various aggressive promotional campaigns,” said Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife & Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga. “We are fortunate to have the world unitedly supporting us and rallying around to help the tourism industry. Tourism is a lifeline to Sri Lanka’s economy, unlike in the past it has become connected to everyone in the country. Before long, tourism will definitely be the number one revenue earner for Sri Lanka.”
Tourist arrivals in 2018 had reached a record 2.3 million – worth almost $4.4 billion – and numbers still look set to top two million in 2019.
WTM London’s Senior Director, Simon Press, added: “Being WTM London’s Premier Partner means Sri Lanka can entice trade buyers and media from across the globe, which will help visitor numbers return to or even surpass the levels seen in 2018, boosting the country’s economy and helping to provide jobs for thousands of workers. It has been so heartening to see the country recover from the appalling events last Easter, and it looks set to have a busy winter season.”