Charter flights to boost tourism | Sunday Observer

Charter flights to boost tourism

Ukranian tourists set foot on Sri Lankan soil
Ukranian tourists set foot on Sri Lankan soil

Last Monday (28) was a crucial day for Sri Lanka’s tourism when a charter plane carrying 215 Ukrainian tourists landed in the island- an event the Tourism Minister says is a positive move towards resurrecting the hard-hit industry.

The country was badly hit in almost all aspects following the coordinated terrorist bomb attacks on Easter Sunday which targeted Catholic churches and luxury hotels. Among the 269 who lost their lives that day were over 40 foreign nationals. Immediately after this, countries slapped travel advisories on Sri Lanka- ( which was ranked the top country for travel in 2019 by Lonely Planet) -leading to the collapse of one of the key forex generators.

Sri Lanka’s tourism is seeing a 20.5 per cent drop of tourists’ numbers till now, compared to the statistics for the same period last year.

To revive the tourism industry is mostly in the hands of the private sector. Thus, in a bid to do just that Tangerine Tours (Pvt) Limited joined hands with Ukraine’s charter airline SkyUp to encourage tourist traffic from the European nation.

“We are delighted to announce that the program kick-started successfully,” said General Manager of Tangerine Tours and Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators (SLITO) member Charith De Alwis as he sat for an interview with Focus.

Alwis said 26 charter flights carrying the same number of tourists will arrive in the island till March 2020. He added that this venture will boost the limping industry and also generate a means of financial gain for people involved in tourism indirectly.

In the May 12, 2019 article “Tourism sector hit by ‘tsunami’ of cancellations; ‘The Silent Sector’ severely affected” the Sunday Observer found that the indirect tourism sector was hit the hardest.Minister of Tourism Development John Amaratunga welcomes the private sector’s move to encourage visitation to Sri Lanka.

“This is a very positive move. When these charter planes start to come other tourists will come too,” the minister said expressing his delight. Tangerine Tours is also a party to bringing down 72 charter flights with a capacity of about 330, with ANEX Tour which operates in Central and Eastern Europe.

“We are sure that these two projects will strengthen our destination’s brand visibility and hike visitor numbers,” Alwis added echoing the Minister’s statement.