Sri Lanka is aiming to host three times more UK agents on fam trips next year following a huge rise in visitor numbers in 2023.
Almost 180,000 Brits are expected to visit the ‘teardrop island’ this year, compared to 85,000 in 2022, overtaking Russia to become Sri Lanka’s second biggest overseas market after India.
Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said the country is ‘aggressively’ marketing its new strapline, You’ll Come Back For More, aimed at repeat visitors, who make up a third of Sri Lanka’s visitors.
During 2023, the Sri Lanka Government has run three fam trips for UK agents, in February, May and September/October. Mr Fernando said it will have six trips next year, plus others organised by private companies.
“We expect to welcome at least 200 agents on fam trips next year,” he added. “We want them to have different cultural experiences, we want them to see all that the island has to offer, so we will be organising experiences such as hot air balloon rides.
“When we have worked out the details, we will be inviting agents to apply for places. We want to see some new people coming as well as those who already know Sri Lanka.”
To further boost visitor numbers, Mr Fernando said he is talking to both British Airways and TUI to try to persuade them to add charter flights to Sri Lanka to offer alternatives to SriLankan Airlines’ direct flights from the UK.
BA stopped its seasonal charter service in April 2019, but, speaking at WTM London this week, Mr Fernando said it’s possible BA might resume its flights in 2025. “We are negotiating with BA and it looks quite positive,” he said.
“I have met TUI a few times and we are expecting to meet again soon to discuss charter flights, since Sri Lanka can easily be combined with its flights to the Maldives.”