Shaping the future of travel: dnata’s Sebastien Doussin on Sri Lanka’s tourism boom

Strong Partnerships with Aitken Spence Travels Fuel Unprecedented Growth

Sebastien Doussin, the Divisional Vice President of Global Ground Services at dnata Travel Group, recently graced the vibrant shores of Sri Lanka for the prestigious dnata partner event, Horizon: Sri Lanka. This landmark event, which brought together business leaders from across the dnata Travel Group, was a significant showcase of opportunities aimed at catapulting Sri Lanka’s tourism industry into key global markets.

The dnata Travel Group, a prominent subsidiary of the Emirates Group, has established itself as global powerhouse in the travel and aviation industries
In a year marked by remarkable growth, Doussin announced an impressive surge in tourism, with an approximate increase of 200% compared to 2023. This exponential growth underscores the potential and allure of Sri Lanka as a top-tier travel destina tion. “We are thrilled with the progress we’ve seen. The numbers are not just encouraging; they’re a testament to the resilience and appeal of Sri Lanka,” Doussin remarked.

Central to this success story is the strategic partnership with Aitken Spence Travels, a key player in the local tourism sector. Doussin expressed deep appreciation for their collaboration, stating, “Our partners in Sri Lanka, Aitken- spence Travels, are an integral part of the dnata family. The confidence we have in our partners has been instrumental in achieving these upward numbers over the past few years.”

The Horizon event in Sri Lanka is the third of its kind, following successful editions in the Maldives and Mauritius. Each event has been pivotal in diversifying product offerings and improving overall service quality. “There has been a lot of diversification of products and improve- ments in the past few years,” Doussin noted, highlighting the ongoing evolution and enhance ment of travel experiences in these regions.
However, Doussin emphasized that the journey doesn’t stop here. He identified destination percep tion as a critical factor in sustaining and accelerat ing growth in Sri Lanka’s tourism sector. “Destina-
tion perception is key in growing Sri Lanka tourism. There is a need for a global awareness. through destination marketing campaign to shift traveler perception,” he
explained. This strategic shift aims to build a positive, compelling image of Sri Lanka that resonates with potential travelers worldwide.
Pricing, according to Doussin, is another crucial element, driven by market demand. “Pricing is determined by demand, and it is important to maintain that balance,” he advised, pointing out the need for a harmonious approach to pricing strategies that ensure competitiveness while catering to traveler expectations.
Doussin highlighted an emerging trend and growth of the boutique and smaller property segment. “There is a growing need for boutique hotels and smaller hotels, but we need to ensure that health and safety regulations are in place. Since some of the converted colonial-style proper- ties were not originally built for commercial purposes, it is important to ensure they are tourist friendly with acceptable standards for global distribution.” This emphasis on quality and safety is crucial for building a sustainable and attractive tourism sector.
Reflecting on the future, Doussin expressed optimism about Sri Lanka’s tourism trajectory. “We believe this is potentially the tip of the iceberg. We are over the numbers received in 2017/2018, and according to the forecast, we believe we will reach our targets for this year as well,” he stated confidently. The continuous growth signals a bright future for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, driven by strategic initiatives and strong partnerships.
Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken- spence Travels, highlighted the untapped potential of the Middle East market, which already accounts for over 10% of visitors to Sri Lanka. “There is a wealth of opportunity, and Sri Lanka can tap into this market as we already have over 10% of visitors from the Middle East,” Jayasundera said.

Source: Travel Talk Asia

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