IATO’s (Indian Association of Travel Operators) maiden outbound convention, held in Sri Lanka from 2-4 October, explored churnings in the Indian outbound segment. Based on a contemporary outlook, the theme of this year’s convention was ‘Regional Tourism: Beyond Boundaries’. Interestingly, it also was the first time when an IATO event was held on foreign soil. A 160-strong contingent, consisting of senior industry stakeholders were in presence at The Taj Samudra in Colombo for the three-day deliberations.
Sri Lanka has come to assume greater significance in the outbound community in the recent years. After a transformation in the political landscape and a slew of infrastructure projects, especially in the northern parts of the country, Sri Lanka has steadily emerged as an easily accessible island nation with several unexplored products and destinations in the offing, making it a preferred getaway. Such has been the spurt in numbers that in matter of a few years India stands only behind China in terms of tourist numbers in to Sri Lanka, and numbers are expected to be north of 400,000 tourists this year too. MICE movement has played a significant role in the growth as well. Buoyed by footfalls, Sri Lanka tourism has set an ambitious target of one million Indian inbound 2020 and should be able to achieve it, given current trends.
Conventions such as these play an important role in bringing in more synergy between stakeholders of travel and trade industries of the two nations. IATO convention brought spotlight on the need for better regional connectivity to harness the untapped tourism potential that the countries in the South Asian region hold.