A new ‘committee’ representing both the inbound travel industry and hotels in Sri Lanka is a collaboration between THASL (The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka) and SLAITO (Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators).
Most companies/hotels involved with the initiative work closely with UK tour operators.
The Indian Ocean island has been buffeted by a series of major setbacks in recent years, most recently this summer with political protests over a shortage of essentials, particularly food and fuel, but the committee is keen to spread the world that it is now fully open and welcoming visitors.
“What we would like to communicate is that as much as there were some problems, to a great extent these have been brought under control,” said Nishad Wijetunga, President of SLAITO.
“Sri Lanka is still very safe and secure to travel to and anyone coming here will enjoy a relaxed holiday with absolutely no shortcomings in a very secure environment whilst benefitting the economy through the return of tourism.”
He added: “Sri Lanka is country coming out of an economic crisis, so visitors here will be aiding the recovery of the island and its people by bringing with them needed foreign exchange.”
A secondary message is that Sri Lanka is a very affordable long-haul option.
Many hotels are offering stay-pay deals (for example, four nights for the price of three) and discounts of up to 40% for the winter months, including over Christmas.
“Plus, Sri Lanka offers one of the best values when it comes to winter sun – as of November the exchange rate was 1 pound to 413 LKR, in comparison to April 2022 when it was 145 LKR,” said Wijetunga.
The country is a genuine winter sun choice (December to April) but is a year- round option: the beaches on the west coast are suitable during the winter months while east coast beaches are calm and safe for swimming during the summer months (May to October).
For new experiences in 2023, Sri Lanka recently launched the 200-mile Pekoe Trail (pictured), based on a series of former routes that were used to transport tea to the factories in Sri Lanka’s hill country.
Ten years in the making and comprised of a collection of 22 routes between 5.44 miles and 10.68 miles in length, it is hoped the trail will eventuall be recognised as one of the great walks of the world, on par with the Camino de Santiago, the Inca Trail, and the Appalachian Trail of Milford Track.
Aimed at walkers and hikers of all fitness levels and ages, its creation was made possible through a joint funding initiative from the U.S and EU.
And for those visiting over the next six weeks, a FIFA zone has been created at Negombo, a beach destination close to the airport, for fans to watch World Cup matches.
“Tourists will return from Sri Lanka with very happy memories of their holiday,” added Wijetunga.