On the 2nd November Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau officially unveiled its unique travel packages for the FIFA World Cup 2022 fan base in Negombo, close to Bandaranaike International Airport. This joint industry promotional effort will see the Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators Association, Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka, along with Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau marketing special packages including flights and accommodation for five days starting from £530 (approx. USD 630.48). All hotels, restaurants, travel agents and other stakeholders in Negombo have come on board to put together the FIFA Zone to accommodate and entertain the visitors.
Sri Lankan Airlines, Flydubai, Qatar Airways and Air India have come on board to support Sri Lankan tourism efforts to draw a sizable fraction of over 1.2 million football fans during the four to five-day break between the World Cup matches from 20 November to 18 December. National carrier Sri Lankan has also extended a special rate for the FIFA Zone travellers and all airlines will promote the packages via its holiday arms. Tourism Minister Harin Fernando, speaking at the launch event, said this is a one-of-kind opportunity to tell the world that Sri Lanka is open for business.
The Minister also expressed confidence that this will attract around 5,000 global football fans to Negombo and share Sri Lankan warm hospitality via this initiative. Negombo beach will be ready with a giant TV screen live streaming all matches, food and beverage stalls and beer garden with music.
Negombo, a popular coastal destination in Western Sri Lanka, offers an interesting introduction to coastal Sri Lankan life, with a lively fish market, a dash of colonial charm and hundreds of colourful wooden boats. Tourism is a strategically important industry for Sri Lanka, contributing as the third largest export earner for the national economy, creating local jobs both direct and indirect and promoting opportunities for foreign direct investments.
2019, Sri Lanka was visited by 1.9 million international visitors who stayed an average of 10.4 days and generated an estimated USD 3.6 billion to the local economy. In October 2022, Sri Lanka attracted 42,026 travellers, an increase of 41% month-on month, whilst arrivals in the first 10 months of 2022 amounted to 568,258 – a welcome development for the triple-hit tourism industry. Earnings from tourism in the first five months were USD 893 million as against USD64 million a year earlier.