In a bid to attract more tourists from India as also China, to Seychelles, SriLankan Airlines on Thursday launched its inaugural service to the Indian Ocean archipelago nation.
SriLankan Flight UL 0707 touched down at Seychelles International Airport shortly after noon on Thursday and was greeted with a water cannon salute amid torrential rains.
“It is very important for us to reach out to major (tourism) source markets like India and China,” Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Alain St Ange said soon after the SriLankan flight from Colombo touched down.
“SriLankan can play a very important role in this,” he said.
Tourism contributes to 80% of the Seychelles’ revenue, exports of tuna fish being the other major source.
The country comprises 115 islands of which Mahe, on which capital Victoria is situated, Praslin and La-Digue are the three biggest ones
According to the minister, this year, till date, over 7,000 Indian tourists have visited this exotic tropical tourist destination.
“SriLankan’s operations will help us reach out to a much larger market as they have operations to much more Indian destinations than Air Seychelles,” Ange told IANS.
He said Seychelles wanted Indians not only as tourists and for holding weddings but also for film shooting as “we provide readymade outdoor shooting sets”.
According to Siva Ramachandran, Chief Commercial Officer of SriLankan, his airline operates 107 flights to different destinations in India per week, and is planning to increase this number further next year.
“The idea is to develop Sri Lanka and Seychelles as top tourist destinations and tap the key markets of India and China,” he said.
“We are also looking to increase trade between Sri Lanka and Seychelles as that will increase the business traffic well.”
Ramachandran said that direct connectivity to a large country like India would help develop the economies of the small island nations of the region as well.
“We see India as an extended home market for us.
“We want to work with Air India and Jet Airways in other domestic routes in India as well,” he added.