Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


Sri Lanka Launches First Global Tourism Campaign in 16 Years

3 months ago

Sri Lanka has finally announced its plans to roll out its global tourism marketing campaign urging tourists “You’ll Come Back For More,” marking the first such campaign since 2007.  

Skift had earlier highlighted the country’s 16-year gap in robust tourism promotion. The country had developed a comprehensive consumer campaign in 2021, which had then been shelved.

The new campaign is set to unfold in phases, initially focusing on communicating the restoration of stability in the country and its readiness to welcome tourists, this will run through February. Subsequent stages will elaborate on the central theme of “You’ll come back for more,” targeting key source markets of Sri Lanka Tourism.

Ogilvy, the creative agency behind the campaign, based its strategy on insights revealing that over 30% of tourists visiting Sri Lanka are repeat travelers.

The government has also urged the private sector to play a pivotal role in attracting tourists, with Tourism Minister Harin Fernando emphasizing that the government’s responsibility was restricted to ensure an enabling environment.

Tourism Targets

This year’s target for tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka is 1.5 million, a goal viewed by some as modest given the destination’s capacity and potential.

According to the latest tourism data, Sri Lanka had welcomed 1.3 million tourists by November, with India leading as the largest contributor with almost 260,000 arrivals, followed by Russia with 168,000 tourists.

The country plans to welcome 2.5 million tourists next year.

Free Tourist Visas

As part of a broader strategy to rejuvenate the tourism sector and achieve a target of 5 million arrivals by 2026, Sri Lanka announced issuing free tourist visas until March for visitors from seven countries — India, China, Russia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

The backdrop to these efforts includes last year’s wave of anti-government protests, beginning in April, triggered by severe shortages of food, fuel, and medicines. The country declared a state of emergency, facing what is considered its most significant economic crisis.


UAE Carrier FlyDubai Suspends Operations to Sri Lanka Until Further Notice

2 years ago

United Arab Emirates’ budget carrier FlyDubai has suspended operations to Colombo in Sri Lanka until further notice, amid the escalation of protests in the South Asian country.

“FlyDubai flights between Dubai and Colombo Airport have been suspended from July 10 until further notice,” said an airline spokesperson, while assuring to closely monitor the situation on the ground in Sri Lanka.

Passengers booked to travel on these flights will be contacted and offered a refund, the airline has said.

Following the unrest in Sri Lanka, the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Colombo had also issued an advisory asking its citizens in Sri Lanka to take precautions and stay away from demonstration hotspots. It has also asked its citizens to avoid travelling to the country.

On Saturday, thousands of locals demanding the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stormed into his official residence braving teargas shells and water cannons — a scene that looked very familiar to the 1986 dethroning of the corrupt and brutal regime of Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos.

The visuals coming from the Sri Lankan president’s residence showed locals cooling off in the presidential swimming pool, sleeping on the bed and sofa as well as preparing food for dinner.

The political crisis coupled with the economic crisis has the South Asian island suffering from the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

The Sri Lankan president has now confirmed that he would be resigning on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also announced his resignation.


80 Percent of All Hotel Booking in Sri Lanka Cancelled Amongst Turmoil

2 years ago

That’s according to M Shanthikumar, president of the Tourists Hotels Association of Sri Lanka, quoted in TTG Asia last week. He said these 80 percent booking cancellations have happened even though members “have tried to persuade visitors that it is safe to holiday in Sri Lanka”. This has happened even as turmoil has continued and government has changed.

The surge in cancellations was triggered by countries such as Germany, France, Australia and New Zealand urging against non-essential travel to Sri Lanka due to widespread fuel and food shortages and possible violence.

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Tags: sri lanka