SriLankan will expand Middle East services

SriLankan Airlines is to add more direct flights to the Middle East as it steps up initiatives to sell Sri Lanka and neighbouring India to the Arabian leisure market. All eight SriLankan Airlines’ Middle East destinations will have a minimum of four flights per week from October 2006.

The enhanced schedule includes direct flights from Colombo to Bahrain and Doha and increased frequencies to Kuwait and Dubai.

Peter Hill, CEO of SriLankan Airlines, said, “We were encouraged by the positive response from the Middle East leisure sector to our marketing efforts in the region in 2005.

“Our current effort will tap into the multi-billion dollar Middle East outbound travel market, attracting both Arabian nationals and expatriate residents.”

Sri Lanka’s hill country, with its cool temperatures and lush scenery, is expected to be an attractive destination to Arabian travellers in the summer months.

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The strategy will also see the airline’s leisure arm SriLankan Holidays stepping up its presence in the Middle East. SriLankan Holidays will launch a number of attractive packaged tours to Arabian nationals and expatriate residents ranging from relaxing holidays in the hills, nature trails, water sports and golf vacations.

SriLankan Holidays will also promote holiday destinations in the Indian subcontinent, offering Arabian holiday makers a wider choice of destinations to choose from.

Hill said, “We will add Goa, which is a very popular holiday destination, to our schedule from October, flying twice a week.

“Arabian travellers are looking for new places to travel and Sri Lanka can offer an exciting blend of cool climates, beautiful scenery, amazing cultural experiences and a host of leisure and sporting activities.”

Holidaymakers can also indulge in a wide choice of shopping opportunities, spanning from traditional handicrafts and the widest spectrum of precious coloured gems to international brand names and a fresh selection of world-renowned Ceylon tea.

Avid golfers can choose from four excellent courses, with each set in distinct climatic conditions and classified as some of Asia’s best.

Chandana de Silva, head of corporate communications, said, “The 18-hole Nuwara Eliya course, set at an elevation of about 2,000 metres above sea level, is one of the most spectacular and challenging courses we have to offer.

“The narrow freeways and hilly terrain keeps golfers excited and challenges their game all the way through to the 18th hole.”

SriLankan Airlines has also made all destinations, including access to the two hill country golf courses, more accessible with its Air Taxi service, cutting travel time to around 30 minutes to reach most destinations.

The Air Taxi service is available to 14 destinations within the island and offers passengers a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the island’s breathtaking terrain covered by lush forest, water bodies, dry zone nature reserves and golden beaches.
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