COLOMBO, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) — Sri Lanka and Israel have discussed the possibility of establishing direct air links to increase the number of tourist arrivals into the island nation, the Tourism Ministry said here Tuesday.
Renewed efforts are being made to position Sri Lanka as an attractive destination for the outbound Middle East tourism market, the ministry said.
The star performer for Sri Lanka in the Middle East market last year was Israel which grew by an impressive 33.4 percent year on year in a scenario where overall growth from the region was 6.5 percent.
A Sri Lankan delegation headed by Tourism Minister John Amaratunga is currently in Tel Aviv to attend the 23rd annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM 2017) taking place at the Tel Aviv Convention Centre on Feb. 7 to 8.
Representatives of 40 countries and regions are participating in the exhibition this year with an anticipated attendance of over 20,000 visitors.
The Sri Lankan delegation held a meeting with the leading tour operators of Israel on the sidelines of the IMTM and some of the key topics discussed during the meeting were establishing direct air links between the two countries and possibility of arranging charter operations commencing next summer.
The ministry said operational level meetings will be held in the near future.
“The Middle East is a lucrative market that needs to be carefully nurtured. With the travel issues in Europe and the United States, this is our opportunity to woo the Middle East,” Amaratunga said.