01st October 2009, www.dailymirror.lk
SriLankan Airlines is carrying out a series of promotional activities to increase Chinese tourist arrivals into the Indian Ocean island, and promote closer ties between the two countries.
The National Carrier has in recent months launched several tour packages tailor-made for the Chinese market. The airline’s ‘Ayubowan Sri Lanka’ and ‘Treasures of Sri Lanka’ packages were heavily marketed in China this year, with a number of key incentives being provided to the Chinese travel trade to promote these packages.
Mohamed Fazeel, Head of Worldwide Sales at SriLankan, said: “The centuries-old relationship between Sri Lanka and China has never been stronger than it is today. SriLankan Airlines is aggressively promoting Chinese tourism to Sri Lanka and is working closely with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau in this connection.
The airline has enhanced awareness of Sri Lanka in China by carrying out publicity campaigns in three provincial cities, which were each attended by over 100 Chinese travel agents. Another publicity campaign was carried out in the giant Solama Park Shopping Complex to enhance Sri Lanka’s image, following the dawn of peace.
This year, SriLankan has provided more than 60 complimentary tickets to Chinese travel agents and travel writers for familiarization tours to Sri Lanka. The airline also participated in a number of travel fairs in China, including the Pacific Asia Travel Association Fair in Hangzhou and the Beijing International Tourism Exhibition.
SriLankan Airlines provided 18 free return air tickets to Sri Lankan tour guides to visit China for a 4-month programme to learn Chinese, so as to better serve Chinese tourists. Discounted and complimentary air tickets were provided for officials of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau to visit trade fairs in China, together with other cultural ambassadors such as dance troupes, and to a troupe of Sri Lankan musicians promoting Sri Lankan culture in China.
A special discounted fare was provided to more than 100 Chinese tourists to attend the Esala Perahera in Kandy, a festival sacred to all Buddhists.
Most recently, the airline flew in two chefs from China to train culinary students at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management, and also provide training in authentic Chinese dishes for chefs of many hotels in Sri Lanka.
Senaka Fernando, Regional Manager Asia Pacific, said: “China is an ever-more important business partner of Sri Lanka, and Sri Lanka is an excellent value-for-money destination for the growing number of Chinese tourists travelling overseas. According to Sri Lanka Tourism statistics, Chinese tourist arrivals into Sri Lanka increased by 71% in August in comparison to the same month in the previous year. Tourism from all countries grew by 34% in August 2009.”
The airline has a thrice-weekly service to Beijing via Bangkok , and also flies to Hong Kong three times a week.
The Beijing flights have on board specially trained Chinese Passenger Assistants to help Chinese speaking passengers on board and also at the airport. Passengers get to enjoy SriLankan’s award-winning hospitality, and an entertainment system that features over 40 movie and radio channels, including Chinese movies, and 16 games.The airline is now seeking to promote Sri Lanka as a destination in niche segments such as honeymooners.