NEW DELHI: State-owned SriLankan Airlines will launch two-for-the-price-of-one holiday packages in a bid to again attract Indian tourists — the biggest source of inbound travellers for the island nation till last April. Then the economic crisis and declaration of emergency in the emerald island led to desi globetrotters skipping Sri Lanka for other nearby destinations like the Maldives. With tourism vital to revive the economy, the emerald island is looking at Indian travellers to resume their travels.

“Our month-long promotional campaign (‘dil full of Sri Lanka’) will be launched for bookings on February 4 and will be for travel till May 1, 2023. The package, both for economy and business class, will include components like airfares, hotel stay and airport transfers. We will not be competing on price points and have tied up with four- and five-star hotels including Taj (which has two properties in Colombo). We are aiming to get Indian tourist numbers back to February 2022 levels,” SriLankan Airlines CEO Richard Nuttell said here on Monday.

SriLankan used to have 120 weekly flights to 14 Indian cities in pre-Covid times. At the moment it is at 70 weekly flights to nine Indian cities. Before the crisis erupted in the island nation, SriLankan had emerged as one of the biggest international airlines in India in terms of the number of flights. A significant number of Indian travellers fly SriLankan to transit via Colombo. In fact, the DGCA-approved summer schedule-2022 shows SriLankan’s 128 weekly flights to and from India were second only to 170 of Emirates — the international airline with maximum flights here.

“We have three different kind of traffic flows — the Sri Lankan diaspora, inbound tourists for which India was the biggest source market, and transit traffic between India and rest of our network that ranges from Europe and UK in the west to Australia and Japan in the east,” Nuttall said.

After last April, the traffic flow from India reduced so drastically that airlines cut their flights between the two countries. “Tourism was disproportionately affected by the economic crisis. Now things are much better and tourism is needed to revive the local economy,” the British CEO said.

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