Travelport с 18 января

Sri Lanka grows amid disturbances in Egypt

The demand for Sri Lanka has risen in the first months of 2013 among Russian tourists. According to tour operators, sales in February are showing a 30% increase, compared to last year’s numbers. Yet in autumn most market players were very moderate about their estimates of the upcoming winter season. Some even called the New Year sales slow, blaming it on hoteliers, who raised prices for high dates. “The demand for the destination really wasn’t that high before the holidays. But everything changed after the news of disturbances in Egypt. Due to this, many South-East Asian resorts, including Sri Lanka, received an additional tourist flow”, said Alexander Korbarum, the president of Intaerm. According to his data, the increase of demand after the holidays is about 30%. The public’s interest is fueled by moderate prices on airline tickets from SriLankan Airlines and Qatar Airways. One can find a tour to a 3* hotel for a mere $1000, which opens Sri Lanka to mass tourists.

Aeroflot, which offered a direct flight from Moscow to Colombo during last year, decided to drop this destination in the winter season. Yet operators don’t see it as a necessarily bad thing. “A lack of direct flights hasn't really caused any deficit in airplane seats. On the contrary, the reduction of flights helped us avoid getting too many hot tours on the destination”, thinks Yulia Shestakova, Marketing Director of GTV. According to her, there’s a 20% increase in sales and the stable demand promises good results up until the middle of April and also for the duration of May holidays. Yet most Russian tourists prefer 4-5* hotels. Beach resort tours are in most demand; second place goes to mixed tours involving excursions around the country as well as beach activities.

According to Anastasia Vasilyeva, the destination’s Manager at Panteon Company, during February, tours to Sri Lanka have been selling off the shelf. There’s also a good depth of sales – almost two months. Some popular hotels are stopping bookings until late March. Also, there’s a traditional shortage of accommodation around the Chinese New Year (February 10). During this period Asian tourists simply buy out most of the rooms. By the end of 2012, sales of Sri Lankan tours have doubled at Panteon Company. There are many new hotels, which have just been finished, including luxury ones, and also there’s new tourist infrastructure – all that explains the boost of sales on this particular destination.

Not all market players are content with the actions of Sri Lankan hoteliers. Svetlana Muromskaya, head of the Sri Lanka and Philippines department at Vand International Tour explains that many hotels have raised their prices up to 40% for the peak season, even though the destination is being promoted among Russian tourists as an affordable one. Overall, the price for accommodation has risen 20% in the current year. Obviously those hotels that managed to keep their prices on a lower level, or the ones offering good deals, are more popular among tourists. Mrs. Muromskaya estimated the growth of demand to be 17-22% in this season. She also notes that popular places like Bentota or Beruwala are losing ground to the South side of the island. “Russian tourists used to avoid coming to this part of the country. The transfer from the airport was not very convenient. But after a new highway was built, the situation got much better”, concludes the expert. The popularity of southern resorts should grow even bigger with the opening of a new international airport in Mattala in 2013.

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