Emirates-linked dnata Travel Group upbeat on Sri Lanka tourism


dnata Travel Group is upbeat on Sri Lanka tourism’s recent upsurge and expressed confidence in the country drawing potentially high larger numbers in tandem with further improvement to its attractiveness to the global traveller.

Part of world’s biggest carrier Emirates, the dnata Travel Group, is one of the foremost integrated tourism/travel giants internationally. Last financial year the dnata Travel Group was responsible for bringing in 9,000 tourists mainly from the UK and UAE and this number is expected to rise to 15,000 in FY25.

dnata Travel Group consists of top holiday brands such as Emirates Holidays, Travel Republic (One of the UK’s leading online travel agents), Gold Medal (Leading B2B travel consolidator and tailor-made long haul travel services to the independent travel trade), Travel2, Travelbag (a leading long haul tailor made tour operator), Destination Asia which specialises in experiential travel and personalised service and Yalago is a global leisure wholesaler; Pure Luxury, Incredible Journeys and Imagine Cruises.

dnata Global advisors handle 1.3 million bookings and nearly 3 million bed nights via operations in 16 countries and 13 travel outlets across the world. The Group which also represents 28 airlines across 7 countries serves over 3 million passengers.

Last week around 100 key executives of dnata Travel Group responsible for B2C and B2B leisure, corporate travel, destination management, and services and promoting multiple Group brands converged in Colombo for a strategic review over two days. Among those who were present included dnata Travel Group UK CEO, Travel Republic Managing Director, Gold Medal Commercial Director and Travel Bag Marketing Director.

Separately dnata travel group also met with 115 hotel and other service providers in Sri Lanka. dnata Travel Group’s local partner is Aitken Spence Travels from 2020.

The Group’s previous annual conferences were held in Mauritius and the Maldives. Selection of Sri Lanka by dnata Travel Group to host its annual conference is considered as a major endorsement for the destination.

The Colombo event gave major exposure for Sri Lanka whilst the country also got an opportunity to showcase the destination to over 100 of dnata Travel Group executives. The overall dnata group’s interests include ground handling, cargo, catering and retail.

In an interview with the Daily FT, dnata Travel Group Divisional Vice President – Global Ground Services Sebastien Doussin confirmed that the Group sees bright prospects for Sri Lanka with bookings seeing 200% growth in 2024.

“We are here because we truly believe that this is potentially only the tip of the iceberg and Sri Lanka has great potential to increase the number of visitors,” he added during the interview along with Aitken Spence Travel Managing Director Nalin Jayasundera.

“Whilst the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau is doing an excellent job, Sri Lanka could do a lot more in terms of destination marketing globally to reinforce its attractiveness as well as a safe place for tourists,” Doussin said.

He stressed that competitive pricing and ease of travel along with consistency in policy will enhance prospects further. “Constant and singular messaging helps minimise confusion among tourists and the travel trade,” he said in an apparent reference to recent changes in the visa fee and processing as well as the minimum room rate issue.

“Sri Lanka needs to strengthen the demand which in turn will determine the best price for hotels as well as earnings for the country,” he explained, reminding the phrase “no hoteliers if there are no tour operators” implying that both stakeholders need to coexist and come up with win-win strategies for the future.  “We are not here to make money on the back of our partners,” he added.

In a fiercely competitive landscape, Sri Lanka must expand its attractiveness for the global traveller. This will ensure maximisation of Sri Lanka’s potential benefitting all stakeholders, he stressed. In this regard Doussin pointed out that the national tourism authorities must recognise and harness the important role played by tour operators in destination marketing and development.

dnata Travel Group business leaders during the annual conference in Colombo focussed on opportunities for growing tourism to Sri Lanka in key markets, including the promotion of its diverse attractions, cultural richness, air connectivity, diverse accommodation offering, affordability, and more – to position the country as a year-round travel destination of choice for its customers.

Other areas looked at include, 

  • Multi-centre holidays: Positioning Sri Lanka as part of wider, multi-centre trip planning, to capitalise on strong customer demand across dnata Travel Group brands for destinations such as Dubai and the Maldives, all accessible and serviced by Emirates.
  • Niche market segments: Promoting Sri Lanka’s diverse range of products which can attract various niche segments such as sustainability, eco-tourism, and wellness.
  • Luxury segment growth: Using latest technology to connect with smaller boutique hotels to market and support further growth of the luxury segment.
  • New source markets: As emerging markets seek out new beach destinations, seek potential opportunities for new source market entries to Sri Lanka.
  • Optimise sourcing and distribution: Using the most suitable contracting method for each product, and to optimise distribution through the dnata Travel Group’s various brands and channels.

Source: https://www.ft.lk/travel-tourism/Emirates-linked-dnata-Travel-Group-upbeat-on-Sri-Lanka-tourism/27-763079

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