Neighbourhood wonders

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The lure of the Ramayana trail, pristine beaches and vast expanses of forestland teeming with faunal bio-diversity will make travellers pack their bags and jet-set to the destination. And if one is still guessing about the place, it is Sri Lanka.

For the first time, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau set foot in Kolkata to host an interactive tourism road show recently. The event saw the presence of 14 destination management companies flying down from Colombo to the City of Joy. Viranga Bandara, assistant director, marketing (India), STPB, said, “Sri Lanka has a variety of wildlife to showcase to visitors and a number of new destinations have emerged in the eastern part of the country. Many new resorts have been built and whale watching is cheaper in the country.

It is a diversified land with serene beaches, stunning wildlife adventure, ancient sites of the Ramayana and a smiling populace.

Kandy is a significant heritage destination.” Bandara also pointed out that most travel companies are designing five-day tours for travellers from Bengal to embark on a sojourn of the country and the tour begins from Rs 35,000 onwards per person depending upon the kind of hotels.

With a view to draw a large number of Indian travellers, STPB is planning to go for a digital marketing campaign across cities. Bandara further said, “We intend to consolidate our campaign and place the country as a preferred holiday destination for Indian tourists. Winter is the best time starting from October to March to explore the country.We have hosted tourism road shows in Mumbai and hope to organise similar events in Hyderabad and Chennai this month. West Bengal contributes around 22 -30 per cent of Indian outbound tourists to Sri Lanka, and Colombo and Kandy are the hot-selling destinations for tourists from here.” Sri Lankan Airlines has begun touching down in Kolkata from 30 October last year. It operates thricea-week flights on a day-time schedule.

The airline is also starting flight services from Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Visakhapatnam this month. Bandara said, “The airline prides in having a weekly 150 flights from Colombo to Indian cities. We are trying to boost the corporate segment of tourists in Kolkata.”

The country has emerged as a wonderful family destination. There are a few iconic destinations like the Unesco-listed World Heritage Site of Sigiriya.

There are lush tea plantation sites, spice trails and the historic Dambulla.

Bandara said, “We receive the highest number of Indian travellers from Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru. There were around 3,56,000 Indians flying out to Colombo last year and we are expecting about 4,50,000 Indian travellers to visit the country in the current period. Overall, there has been around 26 per cent growth in Indian tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka.” 

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