Sri Lankan Airlinesis leading the destination’s future growth in tourism as it moves on from itsconflict-struck past. The carrier, which has operated from London for 30 years,has started a phase of growth and modernisation in a five year plan, which includesa US$5 million investment.
Kapila Chandrasena, director and CEO at Sri LankanAirlines told Travel Daily the carrier has added four aircraft this year andlaunched new services to Moscow, with the re-introduction of its Zurichservices on 23 December. He said the airline had taken a leadership in thetourism initiative and is ‘trailblazing’ the way for more tourists.
“We seehuge opportunity for Sri Lanka in Europe. With the dawn of peace, the economyis buoyant, it is showing growth and we this as an opportunity to show what thecountry has to offer,” he explained. “New areas and experiences are being opened upand the government has made tourism a key initiative”.
Meanwhile, the airline’scompetition from Middle East carriers has prompted Sri Lankan Airlines toupdate its onboard product, from seats through to meals. This includes a newbusiness class seat which goes to a flatbed, modern in-flight entertainment andcabin crew training. The carrier will also offer an a la carte menu in itsbusiness class so passengers can choose when they eat.
“The challenge is not toget complacent,” said Chandrasena. “We are looking at a more integrated push soas the national carrier we are showing Sri Lanka as a destination and not justour airline. The worst is over and the environment is now very different fromhow it was five years ago”.
To ease traveller concerns over domestictransportation and currently undeveloped roads in Sri Lanka, the airline hasalso launched air taxi services so tourists can reach their holiday easier.
Meanwhile,as Sri Lanka gears up to host the England cricket team’s tour in March, Chandrasenasaid sports tourism will continue to be a key tourism driver for the country. Itsgovernment is currently bidding to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018.