From The Press

Sri Lanka Tourism is partnering top blue chip companies to enter the lucrative $ 40 billion cruise-line business that is estimated to carry 22.3 million passengers, with the market growing at 3.2% in volume. Carnival Corporation is the market leader with a share of 48.1% followed by Royal Caribbean Ltd. at 23.1%, Norwegian Cruise Holdings at 10.4% and MSC at 5.2%. “I was delighted to see MSC docking at the Colombo Port with almost 2,000 passengers,” commented Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala.

“Overall Sri Lanka tourism is at a high of 16.7% growth in February and todate registering 11.6% growth with key markets like China bolstering 86% growth and India at 14.2, which are the top two markets for Sri Lanka for 2015,” he said. The average spend among cruise liner travellers is usually at $214, which is in line with the average spend of a UK traveller (without air fare) in Sri Lanka, said Athukorala. “Some of the key trends among the cruise liner passengers are digital connectivity when the ship is at high seas whilst catering to the individual dietary requirements is more an industry feature rather than an individual brand highlight,” said Athukorala.

“If we are to be in line with the $ 40 billion business, we must work closely on a solid infrastructure that supports cruise-liner visitors like shops close to the docking bay and attractive inbound tours to scenic locations, be it wildlife, beaches or cultural sites,” said Athukorala. Currently the one day excursions are mainly around the city and to Pinnawala. The launch of the free range zoo and the ability to see the largest mammals on earth – elephantand whale – inone day brings out the key brand attributesof Sri Lanka –compactness, diversity and authenticity,he added. The Asian cruise line business is worth 1.5 million visitors with Carnival Corporation aiming at a 50% share.