Aussie arrivals in double digit growth since direct flights

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By 2018-02-14

By Nishel Fernando

SriLankan Airlines' Colombo-Melbourne direct flights have helped boost the single digit growth of Australian tourism arrivals into Sri Lanka to a double digit growth, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) data showed.

According to SLTDA, tourism arrivals from Australia stood at 54,246 with a 6.6 per cent YoY growth prior to the launch of SriLankan Airlines' daily direct flights from Colombo to Melbourne in October. From October, tourist arrivals from Australia to Sri Lanka grew by double digits, exceeding 20 per cent, except for December. Furthermore, out of 81,281 Australian tourist arrivals to the island, 30,595 or 37.6 per cent of arrivals were recorded between the October - December period.

Sri Lankan Airlines reasoned that the slow growth of Australian tourism arrivals of 7.4 per cent in December was due to more locals taking up seats to visit Sri Lanka during the December holidays.

During the launch month of the new direct flight, tourist arrivals grew significantly by 26.7 per cent. The double digit growth trend continued for Australian tourist arrivals this year with the latest SLTDA data indicating that 9,948 Australian tourists visited the island in January, a 22.6 per cent growth in arrivals. Issuing a press release, SriLankan Airlines stated that the Colombo-Melbourne route has already registered a profit in less than six months of the launch, demonstrating its potential as one of the fastest profit-making routes in the Airline's network.

Commenting on the performance, SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Suren Ratwatte announced, "Following the success of this strategic decision, we will explore opportunities, for example, between Colombo and Sydney, and other destinations in Australia."

Ratwatte added, "We are delighted to fulfil the need for a direct flight from Colombo to Melbourne. The tireless efforts of the Airline's marketing and commercial teams have made a significant contribution to this success. The daily nonstop flights between Colombo and Melbourne are witnessing high traffic, with customers reporting satisfaction at being able to undertake the flight without long layovers, which not only reduces flying time but also enables travellers to arrive at their destinations refreshed."
SriLankan Airlines stated that despite Australia being home to a large Sri Lankan Diaspora and student community, passenger arrivals into Sri Lanka had been on the decline in 2017, with one of the prime reasons being the lack of direct flights between the two countries. In March, April and August of last year tourist arrivals from Australia declined by 2.9 per cent, 9.5 per cent and 4.4 per cent. However, in April, arrivals grew by an impressive 43.8 per cent.

Australian tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka grew by 9.1 per cent in 2017, from 74,496 to 81,281. During the first nine months of 2017, the monthly average of Australian tourism arrivals to the country was about 6,823, and during last three months of 2017, the monthly average of Australian tourism arrivals was around 10,198.

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