Spurt in Omani visitors to Sri Lanka



Muscat: Growing trade and tourism links between the Sultanate of Oman and Sri Lanka have forced the SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka, to introduce daily flights between Muscat and Colombo.

The SriLankan Airlines' Manager for Oman, Lakshman Weerasooriya, said the new flights started  on Saturday.

"By increasing the frequency, we extend to Omanis an invitation to travel to Sri Lanka for an ideal holiday getaway or to find an investment opportunity. With the latest addition, the SriLankan Airlines also offers a convenient solution to the passengers travelling to India who wish to make trips on the side to the Far East," he said.

Sri Lanka is increasingly becoming one of the most sought-after destinations among the Omani tourists who view the island as an ideal family holiday getaway for relaxing and recuperating. The number of Omani tourists travelling to Sri Lanka during 2012 was 2,300, and has risen up to 3,850 this year, marking an impressive 76 per cent increase.

SriLankan's operations to Muscat offer the travellers convenient connections to all Southern Indian destinations (Trivandrum, Cochin, Chennai, Trichy, Madurai, Bangalore) and Far Eastern (Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Canton). SriLankan Airlines also codeshares with its sister airline, Mihin Lanka, for the flights operating to Jakarta, Dhaka and its most recently added destination, Seychelles, with the convenience of two weekly flights from Colombo.

Weerasooriya also claimed that Sri Lanka has consistently remained the most sought after destination for the Middle Eastern tradesmen in the olden days who renamed the tear-drop island as 'Serendeep' with a mysterious ring to it. "The opportunity to explore the serenity of the country is now at your doorstep, with the SriLankan Airlines, introducing flights all seven days a week," he noted.

Currently, the SriLankan operates six flights per week except Saturday. "With the beckoning blue beaches and inherent hospitality that runs deep in the islanders' blood, Sri Lanka today has become one of the most frequented tourist destinations in Asia, which caters to tourists with diverse travel needs," Weerasooriya said, while adding: "We view Middle East as one of the fastest growing markets where we see a great business potential. With the increase in frequencies to Muscat, we are not only facilitating the frequent Sri Lankan travellers, but also encourage the Omani leisure travellers to come and experience Sri Lanka."

Wildlife and water sports enthusiasts arriving in Colombo can board a flight to the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, the country's second sky gate, situated in close proximity to the three main wildlife sanctuaries and many whale watching and surfing hotspots. With a global route network of 74 destinations in 37 countries, SriLankan operates a fleet of 21 aircraft – including wide-bodied A340 and A330 aircraft, and mid-range A320s.  SriLankan also operates to Kuwait, Dammam, Riyadh, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha, Jeddah, Amman and Sharjah in the Middle Eastern region.

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