• High Commissioner Baglay highlights potential of ‘religious tourism’ to boost tourist arrival numbers in SL
  • Highlights need to promote “two-way” tourism
  • Tourism Minister Fernando reiterates negative publicity of SL in Indian media a major challenge

Sri Lanka expects more tourists from India and is looking to make it the largest source market for the local tourism sector but some of the key and high-potential segments remain untapped, according to the Indian envoy in Sri Lanka. 

While efforts are underway by Sri Lanka Tourism authorities and the private sector players to lure more Indian tourists, the bulk of the focus thus far has been on the 
leisure segment. 

Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay recently pointed out that the island nation would stand to reap greater benefits by targeting pilgrims, by promoting the religious sites that are of importance to the Indian audience. 

“The focus of Sitha in the so-called Ramayana circuit is enormous; do not underestimate it. If there is enough awareness in India, in various parts of the country, on the Ramayana circuit – the Shiva trail in Sri Lanka, it will add tremendously to the number of tourists coming from India to Sri Lanka,” said Baglay. 

He shared his views addressing the launch event of a private sector-led tourism promotional campaign, ‘And You Thought You Knew Sri Lanka’, this week. 

The envoy also asserted the need to promote ‘two-way’ tourism between the two countries. 

“They (Indian tourists) are enthusiastic and inquisitive about Sri Lanka. It’s the duty of the governments to make that happen, help them come. 

Let us make it our joint endeavour to attract more tourists from India to Sri Lanka. And also make better and stronger two-way connections of tourism,” added Baglay. 

Further, Baglay pointed out that India has always been supportive of Sri Lanka’s economic recovery efforts. Just as it has extended a helping hand to the island nation, as it grapples with the worst economic crisis, the neighbouring giant has also helped in tourism recovery in the past. 

Meanwhile, at the same event, Tourism Minister Harin Fernando shared that the road show Sri Lanka Tourism authorities carried out in India towards the latter part of 2022 has not brought the expected results. 

While initially the Tourism Ministry called the ‘Three Cities’ road show in India an immense success, Fernando shared that the tourist arrivals from the country have not improved to expected levels.

Fernando attributed the negative portrayal of Sri Lanka by a few television channels in India as the key reason for the tourist arrivals from the Indian market not picking up. 

Since the opening of Sri Lanka after the Covid-19 pandemic, Indian continues to rank as the second tourist traffic generator for the island nation. It contributes to about 13 percent of the monthly tourist arrivals to the country.

Source – Daily Mirror