Sri Lankan Tourism has been named as a premier partner at WTM London 2019 as the island’s tourism industry continues to bounce back following the Easter Sunday bombings.
The partnership will herald global coverage for the destination, which has also teamed with former Sri Lankan cricketer captain Kumar Sangakkara to continue the country’s tourism recovery.
As a spokesman for Sri Lanka Tourism and the first non-British player to be elected to the presidency of London’s Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) at Lord’s, Sangakkara will promote the destination’s key tourist attractions, which are being marketed under the ‘So Sri Lanka’ brand.
Visitor numbers plunged by 70% in the wake of the terror attack in April but efforts by the Sri Lankan tourist industry has seen a sooner than expected recovery, shown in September by the drop in holidaymakers narrowing to 20%.
Tourist arrivals in 2018 had reached a record 2.3 million – worth almost $4.4 billion – and numbers look set to top two million in 2019.
The partnership deal with WTM London will mean thousands of international travel trade professionals and buyers will see the new So Sri Lanka branding, and hundreds of journalists and influencers will hear about the country’s culture, scenery and heritage.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau will share its exhibition space at WTM London (at stand AS200) with 67 travel trade partners, including hotels, travel agencies, resorts and operators.
Minister of tourism development, wildlife and Christian religious affairs, John Amaratunga, said: “The government has done everything possible to regain the popularity for the destination by building confidence carrying out various aggressive promotional campaigns.
"We are fortunate to have the world unitedly supporting us and rallying around to help the tourism industry, this has helped spread economic benefits far-reaching to many other important economic sectors too; and also to local communities who need it most."
WTM London’s senior director, Simon Press, said: “It has been so heartening to see [Sri Lanka] recover from the appalling events last Easter, and it looks set to have a busy winter season.
“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.”