Saudi lifts travel advisory on Sri Lanka

Saudi lifts travel advisory on Sri Lanka

February 25, 2010   07:37 am


Saudi Arabiahas lifted its travel advisory on citizens visiting Sri Lanka after the country managed to resolve years of bloody conflict. The Kingdom issued the advisory in February 2008 after fighting between government forces and insurgents escalated in Sri Lanka, particularly in the north and east of the country.


In May last year, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said his troops had managed to defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.


“We withdrew the travel advisory as the security situation in Sri Lanka has improved a great deal,” deputy chief of mission at the Saudi Embassy in Colombo, Riyad Al-Kheneini, told Arab News. He added that peace prevails in all parts of the island and people as well as tourists could travel without any fear. “This is the fruit of a successful campaign against terror,” Kheneini said.


During his meeting with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal recently, Sri Lankan Ambassador Ahmed A. Jawad highlighted the need to lift the ban.  Jawad told Arab News that his mission is working with the Tourism Development Authority in Colombo to launch a campaign to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination among residents in Saudi Arabia.


“Destination Sri Lanka”, a program initiated in Dubaiby the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, reported large numbers of Arab travelers to Sri Lanka.


Overall, they had increased by 50 percent in the 12 months leading up to January, compared to the same period the previous year.


During the second half of 2009 Sri Lanka received around 5,400 Saudi tourists.


“Judging by these early results, “Destination Sri Lanka” is on track to surpass figures attained last year where tourist arrivals saw a double-digit growth,” said Heba Al-Ghais Al-Mansoori, Middle East director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Board in Dubai.


Al-Mansoori confirmed that the strongest growth in visitors was from the UAE, followed by Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.


“Peace will finally bring prosperity and development to the country and open up more areas for tourism development which otherwise was not accessible during the war,” Al-Mansoori added.


Cultural attractions, entertainment, shopping, and dining are some of the attractions that draw Arab travelers to Sri Lanka, which is less than four hours flying time away from the Gulf. The local government’s support for the tourism sector and an expansion of low-cost carrier services are also contributing to the growth of the country’s tourism.

arab news

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