After the resumption of tourism for Indian travellers, Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai hosted two outbound tour operator delegations from Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI). The delegations were hosted at the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission on 23 and 24 September 2021 respectively.
The objectives of the meetings were to promote Sri Lanka again as a favored travel destination of Indian tourists, after a long break due to the pandemic restrictions and to solicit their views on uplifting Sri Lankan tourism.
Addressing delegations, the Deputy High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Chennai Dr. Venkateshwaran made the delegates aware of the way forward for Sri Lankan tourism under the new normalcy and emphasized Sri Lanka's readiness to promote "Ramayanaya Yathra", "Murugan Trail" and "Panchalingam Trail" to allure more Indian travellers to the island.
A comprehensive presentation was made by Manager Sales, Sri Lankan Airlines in Chennai, Nilina Pathirana, highlighting the air connectivity from Colombo to South Indian destinations including Chennai, Bangalore, Trichy, Madurai, Cochin, Trivandrum, and Hyderabad. Furthermore, he emphasized the national carrier's buy one, get one free offer, which is available to passengers until 31 December, 2021.
TAAI delegation head and Secretary of TAAI Southern Region Karunakaran appreciated the initiatives taken by the Deputy High Commission to make travellers aware of the opening up of Sri Lankan tourism to India. Furthermore, he suggested a few factors to be taken into consideration, which include changes to Sri Lankan Airlines' flight schedules and enhancing sops provided to travellers.
President of TAFI Southern region Arul Lazaran emphasized the importance of Sri Lanka as a travel destination for Indian travel and tour operators, and especially elaborated the importance of waiving off taxes/levies on MICE tourism and destination wedding travellers.
During the Q&A session, numerous questions were raised by the participants regarding the steps to be followed by the travellers upon arrival in Sri Lanka, the ongoing visa procedure, and carrying out PCR tests etc. These questions were successfully addressed by the Deputy High Commissioner and the team. Sri Lankan Airlines and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau received proposals to be executed, which would enable them to bolster the Sri Lankan tourism industry under the new normal. The Deputy High Commissioner agreed to convey their suggestions to Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and other line agencies in order to ensure a safe and comfortable travel experience to Indian travellers.
Rounding off each interaction, Third Secretary (commercial) of the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission Dilanga Hettiarachchi admired the impetus given by both TAAI and TAFI throughout the years and sought their keen support to promote and project Sri Lanka as Indian travellers' favourite travel destination.
Both TAAI and TAFI are preeminent travel and tour operator associations in India, which have a substantial amount of island wide membership and play a vital role in India`s tourism industry.
Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission
30 September, 2021