Kochi, Sep 24: Buyoed by the response to its 'Ramayana Package' among Indian tourists, Sri Lankan Airlines has decided to make the tour an open-ended one, airlines Kerala Manager Samantha Nagahawatte said.
Talking to sources during the 5th Kerala Travel Mart, which concluded on Tuesday, Sep 23 evening, Mr Nagahawatte said the airline had been able to sell 350 packages of the 'Ramayana Tour' in the past three months.
''We hope to sell 5,000 packages next year,'' he added.
The 'Ramayana Package' was earlier scheduled to end on October 31, this year.
The package, spread over five nights and six days, costs US Dollar 305 per person. It includes accommodation on Bed and Breakfast basis and transportation by airconditioned vehicle with the services of an English speaking driver.
The tour, organised by the Sri Lankan Airlines in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Tourism Promotion Board, covers nearly ten temples in southern Sri Lanka, including the 'Sita Amman,' 'Sri Baktha Hanuman,' 'Gayathri Peetam' and 'Panchamuga Anjaneyar' temples.
Most of the tourists who took this package were middle-aged couples and families, he said.
Stating that India continued to be a very important market for Sri Lanka, Mr Nagahawatte said it accounted for the maximum number of tourists to the 'emerald island' in 2007.
Altogether 106,067 Indians visited Sri Lanka last year, accounting for almost 21.4 per cent of the total tourist arrivals.
''For Indians, Sri Lanka ranks as the sixth most popular destination,'' he added.
Increased business ties, good air connectivity and visa on arrival were among the factors which had promoted Indian tourism to Sri Lanka.
''Cost is also very important as Indians, who love to shop during holidays, find the branded goods much cheaper in Sri Lanka than elsewhere,'' he added.