Last updated: 10:00 PM ET, Wed November 04 2015

Sri Lanka Wants You to Visit… Especially if you're French

Destination & Tourism | Josh Lew | November 04, 2015

Sri Lanka Wants You to Visit… Especially if you're French

Sri Lanka wants to entice more tourists from France to visit its shores. The South Asian island nation will be hosting the annual French Travel Agents Association conference next year. This event will bring several hundred France-based outbound travel agents to Sri Lanka in October of 2016.

France is the fifth biggest source of tourists for Sri Lanka. However, tourism officials see an opportunity to raise this ranking. This might seem like an odd match at first glance. Sri Lanka is popular with travelers from Anglophone countries, and it also has historic connections with Portugal, the Netherlands, the Malay world and, of course, neighboring India.

But Lankan travel insiders want to draw more French tourists. Why?

A growing segment

By the end of 2015, about 100,000 French tourists are expected to have landed in Sri Lanka. That is a 10 percent increase compared to last year. The number of arrivals from France is growing faster than the number of arrivals from other countries. So, statistically, it makes sense to focus on this particular market.

Also, being able to whisk travel agents around the country to show them the sights firsthand during the aforementioned conference next October could help garner more business from France in the coming years. Whether or not you are a travel agent, it is much easier to recommend a destination if you have seen it for yourself.

Other reasons French travelers are good for Sri Lanka

According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, there are a few other reasons why growth in the number of tourists from France is a good thing.

First of all, incentive travel is popular in France. This type of tourism involves companies giving outstanding employees all-expenses-paid trips to reward them for their hard work. Getting business in this lucrative travel niche could be a boon for Sri Lanka’s up-and-coming hotels and resorts.

Travelers from France are freer spenders than some of their Western counterparts. On average, they are willing to part with $250 per day, and they stay for eight days. For many of these visitors, Sri Lanka is the focal point of their trip to the region. It is not "just another stop."

French travelers are also less likely to spend all their time on the beach. They often choose to include cultural attractions or adventure activities on their itinerary. This brings attention and income to inland areas that don’t always see a lot of tourist traffic.

A regional tourism power

Sri Lanka is coming into its own as a tourist destination. After a lengthy civil war and the 2004 tsunami, there has been a decade of relative peace and prosperity. The country is positioned to become a regional tourism power, and, if all goes according to plan, French tourists will be leading the charge.  

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