Sri Lanka was able to attract high level of attention from all trade and travel visitors attended at the 40th landmark edition of the largest travel fair in the Spanish and Latin American region, FITUR International Travel Fair which took place in Madrid, Spain from 22nd -26th January 2020. Among the wide participation of countries from around the world, Sri Lanka was present at this prestigious show for the third year in a row, along with representation of Sri Lankan travel agents, hoteliers and tour operators. Destination Sri Lanka was presented in a unique and unparalleled manner to the avid Spanish travel trade, showcasing varied experiences ranging from destination branding, variety of tourism products, colorful Sri Lankan cultural performances, Ceylon Tea tasting, consumer surveys and attending to all inquiries in a timely manner. With a strong representation of record number of local travel partners, the travel fair was able to maximize the opportunity to show case Sri Lankan tourism products in offer to the Spanish market.
The official stand opening ceremony at FITUR Travel Fair was held under the auspices of Mr. Augustus Ilanas, Honorary Consul designated to Barcelona, Spain Ms. Chandima Abeyratne, First Secretary Commercial at Embassy of France and officials from the UNWTO, Ms. Daniela Wagner, Regional Director, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Mr. Omar Nawaz -Representative of Regional Programs division UNWTO, Federation of Spanish Travel Agents (CEAV) and travel trade participants of Sri Lanka.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr. ILanas noted that Tourism sector in Sri Lanka has shown a continuous growth for the past few years and has become one of the key sectors contributing to socio-economic growth. This year the industry targets 2.5 million arrivals and growth markets like Spain will contribute in a broader manner to achieve this target. He asserted that Embassy is anticipating to work closely with the industry in order to facilitate promoting Sri Lanka to Spanish travelers.
20 key companies representing the tourism trade took part at the exhibition from Sri Lankan travel trade.
Spain being a key growth market generating tourists to Sri Lanka, identifying its potential for growth, actions were taken to set up an attractive stall in the FITUR, inclusive of all the tourism products related to the market. Accordingly, this year Sri Lanka Tourism stall was specifically designed to showcase So Sri Lanka theme giving much focus on promoting Sri Lankan beaches, wild life, heritage and culture that are highly favored by Spanish Travelers. Sri Lanka stall served freshly brewed Ceylon tea to all visitors, which became a major attraction at the show. Estimated consumption of Ceylon tea exceeded 60 liters per hour and more than 1500 cups served during a day showing that the Spanish loved their cup of tea very much. The Sri Lanka stand epitomized the “So Sri Lanka” motif adding vivid sights and sounds to attract the potential visitor segments.
Leading publications like Conde Nast Traveller, Anoche Tuve un Sueño, El Mundo etc interviewed Sri Lanka representative to be featured Sri Lanka in their publication in the upcoming issues. The Spanish National TV did a full coverage on live during the fair on the destination and the various cultural and historical assets of Sri Lanka during the show as well. The travel fair created the opportunity to meet with influencers, bloggers and other social media personalities in the Spanish region who will be visiting the country soon in future to generate exposure to Sri Lanka.
Over all, FITUR travel fair generated many opportunities for promoting destination Sri Lanka among Spanish travelers specially highlighting the importance of creating awareness even more in this market in order to maximize the traveler influx to Sri Lanka. With the impressive growth recorded so far in this market it is expected that Spain will soon become a top destination for Sri Lanka in the near future.