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Aeroflot to resume flights next week giving ray of hope to battered tourism industry

By Harischandra Gunaratna

With the Russian airline Aeroflot announcing resumption of flights to Colombo thismonth, following a four month suspension by the Russian authorities due to bureaucratic/legal bungling at this end, the country’s ailing tourism industry will have a sigh of relief.

A leading travel agent told The Island that the Russian national carrier Aeroflot plans to operate three flights a week to Colombo commencing October 10 while the Russian charter operator Azur Air will commence flights to Colombo on November 3 with six flights per week with each flight transporting around 300 holidaymakers to Sri Lanka.

However, he cautioned that those flight schedules were subject to change depending on how the principles look at the situation in Sri Lanka if chaotic shortages, protests and violence reignite here.

Source said that the Russian tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka might also be hampered by the Russian government’s mobilisation programme in operation and the countrymen and women fleeing to neighbouring countries to avoid being conscripted.

He lamented that though the Russians will begin to visit the country at least in small numbers, there is nothing much we could say about the other European countries with a sharp drop in tourist arrivals from that part of the world.

He said, prior to the suspension of Aeroflot flights, Russian tourist arrivals recorded around 46,000 up to June this year.

When contacted, a senior travel agent said the tourist arrivals from the European countries for the next few months are bleak and the winter season starts in November with not many bookings probably as most economies there are in recession.

 

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