SriLankan spurs tourism growth from Aussie markets | Sunday Observer

SriLankan spurs tourism growth from Aussie markets

 SriLankan Airlines’ A330-300 aircraft provide an enjoyable flying experience
SriLankan Airlines’ A330-300 aircraft provide an enjoyable flying experience

SriLankan Airlines celebrated the first anniversary of the launch of direct services to Melbourne last month, looking back with much satisfaction on a bold commercial decision that has proven to be a significant success for both the national carrier and Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.

Following the start of the direct service to Melbourne in October 2017, Australian arrivals to Sri Lanka have grown by extraordinary numbers. Year on year growth in the 9 months up to 30th September 2018 was an astounding 45.16%, according to figures from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. This was far higher than the 2.8% growth rate that the tourism industry has experienced from all countries combined during this period.

Australia is now firmly established as the 6th largest tourism generating market to Sri Lanka with a 4.55% market share of foreign visitors, and is also the fastest growing major market. Although it lags behind India, China, UK, Germany and France in terms of volume, its growth rate far surpasses those of the top five countries.

Travellers journeying between Australia and Sri Lanka now enjoy the convenience of daily direct flights. Earlier, travellers had to spend many hours flying on other airlines via Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or even as far afield as Bangkok and Hong Kong. On board SriLankan’s modern Airbus A330 aircraft, passengers enjoy SriLankan’s award winning world class service, sophisticated inflight entertainment, delectable cuisine and other comforts such as flatbeds in Business Class.

The Airline has upgraded the Melbourne service with the introduction of state of the art A330-300 aircraft in the second year of operations, providing even greater comforts than the A330-200 aircraft that were operating on the route last year.

A total of 78,756 Australian visitors travelled to Sri Lanka in the 9 months ending September 2018, to which can be added a further 9,811 from New Zealand, many of whom travelled via Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria. New Zealand arrivals grew by 13.5% in the first 9 months of 2018. These visitor numbers do not include the additional thousands of Sri Lankan passport holders domiciled in Australia and New Zealand who also utilized the Melbourne-Colombo service, such as Sri Lankan students in Australian and New Zealand universities. Australia is home to one of the largest Sri Lankan communities, of which almost 50 percent live in and around Victoria, making Melbourne the convenient terminus for their departures and arrivals.

The importance of the Melbourne service was amplified by the almost simultaneous expansion of SriLankan’s codeshare agreement with Australia’s flag carrier and fellow oneworld airline alliance member Qantas, providing passengers with a wide range of options for seamless connectivity to fly to and from major cities in Australia and New Zealand – Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney in Australia, and New Zealand’s largest city Auckland.

Coinciding with the first anniversary of its operations to Melbourne, the Airline successfully concluded SriLankan Airlines Half Marathon event at the Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival for the second consecutive year. The 2018 event set a new record in the 41-year-long Festival history with 34,734 participants across the five distances- the highest figure yet including a sellout event for the SriLankan Airlines Half Marathon.

Among 12,000 participants, Australian International Representative Brett Robinson ( 1:04:15) and Commonwealth Games representative Melanie Panayiotou (1:15:17) emerged winners of the male and female categories of the Half Marathon respectively.