Bahrain tour operators sees big Lanka rush
Manama, June 7, 2009
Bahrain's travel agents are bracing themselves for a surge in tourist bookings to Sri Lanka with the end of a civil war that lasted nearly three decades.
They are hoping to signal a fresh start for tourism to the island country and promote it as one of the most attractive holiday destinations in Asia.
While it is still too early to predict the future course of events in Sri Lanka, the possibility of a lasting peace opens up the prospect of the great swathes of pristine sandy beaches in the north and east of the country becoming new tourist hotspots, said Dadabhai Travels general manager Vijay Menon.
"Sri Lanka is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful travel destinations in Asia and is well-known for its hospitality, infrastructure and five-star facilities," he told the Gulf Daily News.
"It's an ideal destination for leisure and pleasure. However, the only problem is the political unrest which we can say is almost over."
"Earlier, there were very few people travelling from Bahrain to Sri Lanka for leisure."
"Those who travelled were just tourists who added Sri Lanka to their itinerary while travelling to similar geographical destinations like the Maldives."
However, Menon said that he was not expecting an immediate rush of tourists from Bahrain with the fighting still fresh, outrage over the number of civilians killed and fears that pockets of Tamil Tiger rebels may continue their attacks.
"People want to be sure that the war is genuinely over and if things do settle down as expected, the number of tourists going to Sri Lanka will rise in three months.
"The prices are very attractive compared to neighbouring countries and though things are expected to become normal there will still be doubts in people's minds.
"However, by the end of this year, the rush will definitely start if there is no more turmoil."
Al Fanar Travels general manager Sohaib Kidwai said that throughout the years of conflict, tourism to Sri Lanka from Bahrain had been almost non-existent or limited but is expected to surge in the near future.
"Tourism from Bahrain to Sri Lanka had been badly affected during these years of war," he said. "It's normal for people to avoid destinations with threats related to political unrest.
"Only Sri Lankans working in Bahrain and people attending business meetings travel from here to Sri Lanka, but definitely not for pleasure or leisure.
"However, we are expecting a slight increase in the number of tourists to Sri Lanka in 15 days and that will be a sign," he added.-TradeArabia News Service