SriLankan Airlines is increasing its flights to the Middle East to back government initiatives to generate more tourists from those oil-rich countries, the airline said this week.
SriLankan will have 37 weekly connections to nine cities in the Middle East – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Doha, Muscat, Dammam, Riyadh, Jeddah and Kuwait. Additional flights are to three cities – Doha which increases from the present 4 flights up to 6; Bahrain which goes from 5 to 7; and Dammam which will have 3 flights, up from the present two.
The airline said the government has identified the Middle East as one of four major thrust markets to Sri Lanka, and has launched a series of marketing campaigns to raise awareness of the island’s attractions. There has been an 80% increase in Middle Eastern tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2008, the airline statement said.
The labour market in the Middle East is also increasing and expected to see an increase in the number of job opportunities there for Sri Lankans, labour industry analysts said.
Mohamed Fazeel, Regional Manager Middle East, Africa and CIS, said: “We are strengthening our Middle East network, as there has been a significant increase in demand for flights in the region, and we see a lot of potential for growth.
Our focus is on leisure travellers, and the airline’s leisure arm SriLankan Holidays has unveiled several packages to cater especially to Middle Eastern tourists who want to visit Sri Lanka.”