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An interactive gathering orchestrated by Sri Lankan Airlines at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London became a pivotal platform for cultivating collaboration between top UK tourism agencies and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry. The objective of this event was to collectively devise strategies aimed at elevating Sri Lanka’s status as a leading, diverse tourist destination.

Chinthaka Weerasinghe, the Regional Manager for Europe and Americas at Sri Lankan Airlines, emphasized the UK’s significance as a vibrant and high-income market in Sri Lanka’s tourism sector. Despite challenges, Sri Lanka experienced rapid growth in tourist arrivals, reaching 70% of pre-COVID levels in 2023. Weerasinghe highlighted the airline’s commitment to furthering tourism growth in 2024, focusing on social media promotions and niche segments like carbon-neutral tourism. He reiterated that Sri Lankan Airlines not only facilitates air transportation but also actively promotes Sri Lankan tourism.

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Rohitha Bogollagama, stressed the need for increased awareness among UK tour operators and the Sri Lankan government, emphasizing mutual collaboration to enhance Sri Lanka’s tourism efforts. He also highlighted HRH Princess Anne’s recent visit to Sri Lanka as a testament to the strong bond between the two countries.

The Q&A session between the Foreign Minister and UK tour operators explored various topics, such as travel investment, online visa processes, diversifying Sri Lanka’s image, sports tourism, gastro-tourism, and educational programs targeting the mainstream British community. Foreign Minister Ali Sabry addressed all points raised, offering solutions and taking notes for further discussion with the Ministers of Tourism and Airport and Aviation. In his concluding speech, the Minister highlighted a remarkable 106% year-on-year growth in tourism, attributing it to partnerships with tour agencies, the resilience of the Sri Lankan people, and the trust Sri Lanka has built with the international community. Stressing the significance of the relationship with UK tour operators, he expressed a commitment to further strengthen ties for mutual benefit.

As Sri Lanka cements its status as a premier tourist destination, Sri Lankan Airlines and its partners are poised to drive sustained growth, fostering stronger ties between the UK and Sri Lanka.