Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando (left) and Emirates Airlines Senior Vice President Commercial West Asia and Indian Ocean Ahmed Khoory (third from right) with the signed agreement in Dubai along with Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga and Sri Lanka High Commissioner Malraj de Silva
- Sri Lanka enters into a strategic agreement with the award-winning Dubai-based global airline Emirates on Friday to boost tourism
The landmark agreement will see Emirates stepping up promotion of Sri Lanka as a safe and attractive destination for holidays.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Emirates Airlines Commercial West Asia and Indian Ocean Senior Vice President Ahmed Khoory and Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando, on 4 March at the Emirates Group Headquarters in Dubai, UAE.
This integrated and aggressive joint promotions will further strengthen over 35 years of goodwill and relationship between Sri Lanka Tourism and Emirates Airlines.
Emirates Airlines, a constant supporter of Sri Lanka, especially during the height of the pandemic, ensured connectivity with the destination and enabled the travel and tourism industry to survive and thrive.
Since the reopening of Sri Lanka’s borders on 26 January post-pandemic, over 50,000 tourists have arrived in the country via Emirates. As per data issued by the Tourism Ministry yesterday, these Emirates flights have arrived from countries such as the UAE, Italy, UK and Germany.
In November, Emirates announced the addition of two more flights to Colombo to support the resurgence of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry as more key source markets relax travel restrictions. This increased direct flights between Dubai and Colombo to 14 a week, taking the weekly schedule to Sri Lanka to 21 flights a week.
“The Middle East is identified as a strategic market for Sri Lanka and the joint promotion initiative with Emirates will definitely help to focus on attracting more tourists from the region,” Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said on the sidelines of the MoU signing.
Sri Lanka saw a total of 188,656 tourist arrivals so far and during the first three days of March 9,822 travelers. Highest tourist traffic to Sri Lanka as of 3 March is from Russia with 30,096; followed by India 26,389, UK 19,159, Germany 14,101, and Ukraine 13,102.
Pre-pandemic, a total of 37 international airlines operated to Sri Lanka and the Tourism Ministry is actively engaged in negotiations with all the airlines that operated into the country pre-COVID to encourage them to resume operations, whilst also engaging in attracting new markets via charter flights during the winter season.
“We look forward to implementing more joint promotions with the world’s leading international airlines. Several international airlines are expected to operate into Sri Lanka this year,” he added.
Apart from Emirates and Singapore Airlines, the other carriers operating to Sri Lanka include Qatar Airways, Fly Dubai, Air India, Gulf Air, Rossiya Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Saudia, Air Arabia, Oman Airlines, Air Asia, Air France, Etihad Airways, Jazeera Airways, IndiGo, Aeroflot, China Eastern Airlines, Edelweiss Air, Lot Polish Airlines, Neos Airlines and Vistara Airlines.