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“WELLNESS & ANTI-AGING ARE A TRILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS” - AL MANSOORI

Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori is a progressive Emirati national belonging to the young breed of UAE nationals who have made a name for themselves in the media and marketing fields in recent years.

 

Heba is an expert in the mass communications field. She graduated with a Bachelors degree in Arts with majors in Media, Marketing and Sociology in 1999. She worked with a mainline Arabic newspaper for three years before joining a leading Arab business magazine as its business editor. She then moved on to the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation to acquire some hands on experience in the broadcast field and headed their PR division for four years. She currently heads the Middle East office of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and leads a team of consultants promoting the destination in key markets across the region.

 

News in the tourism industry in 2008 has not been good. The massive financial shocks experienced by the world's mature financial markets in 2008 have set off a sharp downward spiral and a loss of confidence among consumers and companies alike and creating one of the most challenging economic environments in living memory. The year 2008 for the hospitality and travel business has been dominated by fears of recession and resurgent inflation across the world. Against the backdrop of a sputtering economy and fluctuating fuel prices that are driving up travel costs, Sri Lanka has seen a surge in tourism from the Middle East in 2008. Ms Al Mansoori underlines Sri Lanka's key attractions in a brief interview with this publication.

 

What are the new trends in tourism?

Wellness is becoming a trend that people are looking for in all areas of their life including their travel plans. Meaning, purpose, health and vitality are essential for the wellness of an individual. Choosing activities that foster physical, spiritual and mental well being are quickly becoming important to many people in choosing how they spend their leisure time. Everyone's lives have become so busy and overcrowded. Technology has increased life to high speed. A chance to breathe, relax and engage in a renewing activity is becoming vital. Wellness tourism offers a chance to re-energize, rejuvenate and become inspired and Sri Lanka is showing the way with thousands of spas dotting the country.

 

There are many opportunities for people to participate in wellness tourism. Anything from spa weekends and yoga retreats to Ayurvedic spas that include a spiritually renewing program. There are adventures that provide healthy, gourmet food choices or an adventure to spiritual places across the country.

 

So how important is spa & wellness tourism?

Spa and wellness tourism is a rapidly growing industry around the world. Every seven seconds a baby boomer is turning fifty years old and approaching retirement. There is a phenomenal interest among these individuals in tourism that incorporates wellness. In America, in the past two years AED 41.10 billion has been spent on spa and wellness tourism by Americans and over AED 4 billion by Canadians. Wellness and anti aging are a trillion dollar business globally.

 

So what are the specialist tours offered by Sri Lankan tour operators & DMCs?

Journeys in nature with tours incorporating physical, spiritual and emotional well being are being offered by Sri Lanka's travel trade. Soft adventure tours such as sea-kayaking, hiking and cross country trekking tours in the most beautiful wilderness settings are being offered.

 

Custom and corporate options are available as well. Menus provide for optimal nutrition, energy and freshness. Emphasis is given for respect and stewardship of our environment. Wellness is essential to be able to enjoy and honour all of life.

 

What about the active traveller?

For those seeking an adrenaline boost, Sri Lanka offers a wide variety to choose from including rafting hiking trails, elephant safaris, mountain biking, fishing, camping, and tons of outdoor adventure.

 

Reconnect with nature and catch a glimpse of a wild elephant, gaze at the pristine grace of a leopard, see a nesting turtle lay its eggs on the beach or witness the dazzling display of peacock feathers. The country is blessed with an abundance of natural diversity despite its small size.

 

This astounding diversity is largely due to its dramatically different terrains ranging from coastal plains to hill country and lush rainforests to arid dry zones. Nature lovers will find 400 species of bird, 250 species of fish and 150 species of land and marine animals.

 

Large areas rich in flora and fauna are conserved in 13 national parks across the country and over 100 other protected areas. This is not surprising given the country's 2000-year old history of conservation. What was probably the world's first wildlife sanctuary was created here in 3rd Century BC.

 

A trip to Sri Lanka's wildlife parks is memorable as one is greeted by the sounds of numerous birdcalls. As you enter a park with an expert tracker in a four-wheel drive vehicle, the jungle comes alive with a myriad sights, sounds and motions.

 

As the vehicle bumps along rutty jungle tracks, the scenery is constantly changing. Monkeys scamper across the path casting anxious glances at the vehicle. A peacock slowly opens its plumage and strikes up a regal pose for the cameras. A cuddly white rabbit hops into view, stops and looks enquiringly and disappears among the foliage just as quickly.

 

So is Sri Lanka playing an active role in conservation of the forests?

Wildlife and nature conservation in Sri Lanka has a long history. The country's traditional law has reference to forests where the felling of timber is prohibited.

 

Ancient Sri Lanka also had reservoirs built in the forests so that wild animals would not need to enter human settlements in search of water.

 

There are many tanks and waterways in and around the wildlife parks of Sri Lanka and there are plenty of crocodiles in the water. Water Monitors, Iguanas and a variety of lizards also inhabit the jungles of Sri Lanka.

 

Wildlife trips offering tourists up-close views of nature's beauty and beasts in their natural habitat are a fast-growing niche and form part of Sri Lanka's eco-tourism industry. The animals, despite being wild, aren't prone to attack and even though game-hunting draws tourists to certain countries, in Sri Lanka, guests shoot with their cameras and not their rifles.

 

What does Sri Lanka offer for the active holiday seeker?

The country is being marketed as an adventure destination with adventure seekers being identified as a potential growth market. Adventurous holidays are a rapidly growing trend in global tourism and an increasing number of travellers are seeking out new adventures like Sri Lanka having done the usual African Safaris.

 

In Sri Lanka you can glimpse a wild elephant, gaze at the pristine grace of a leopard, see a nesting turtle lay its eggs on the beach or witness the dazzling display of peacock feathers. The country is blessed with an abundance of natural diversity despite its small size. This astounding diversity is largely due to its dramatically different terrains ranging from coastal plains to hill country and lush rainforests to arid dry zones.

 

Large areas rich in flora and fauna are conserved in 13 national parks across the country and over 100 other protected areas. This is not surprising given the country's 2000-year old history of conservation. What was probably the world's first wildlife sanctuary was created here in 3rd Century BC.

 

A trip to Sri Lanka's wildlife parks is memorable as one is greeted by the sounds of numerous birdcalls. As you enter a park with an expert tracker in a four-wheel drive vehicle, the jungle comes alive with a myriad sights, sounds and motions.

 

Wildlife trips offering tourists up-close views of nature's beauty and beasts in their natural habitat are a fast-growing niche and form part of Sri Lanka's eco-tourism industry. The animals, despite being wild, aren't prone to attack and even though game-hunting draws tourists to certain countries, in Sri Lanka, guests shoot with their cameras and not their rifles.

 

What is your role as the Middle East Director of SLTPB?

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau has identified the Middle East as a key market and my appointment underlines a crucial aspect of SLTPB's long-term approach to develop powerful ties and build effective partnerships across the region.

 

Dubai was chosen as the location for its regional head office as it ranks as the commercial and tourist heart of the Arabian Gulf region and has a historical trading tradition that continues, as the city has developed into a regional hub. The emirate offers Sri Lanka with an ideal gateway for attracting tourists from the Middle East and is politically stable, crime-free, pro-business and liberal.

 

What will be the primary purpose of this office?

The SLTPB office will maximize the opportunities emerging throughout the Middle East while strengthening support for the travel trade in the region. SLTPB's Dubai office will co-ordinate all of Sri Lanka's tourism promotional activities in the Arab markets including exhibition participation, marketing visits, presentations and road shows, advertising, brochure distribution, public relations, as well as familiarization visits to the island for influential business and travel journalists. The office will also function as the preliminary contact point and enquiry processing centre for travel trade companies and tourists in the region.

 

-Ends-

 

For more information, please contact:

BIZ COM - For PRoactive Communications                        

P.O. Box 48889                           

Dubai - UAE                                

Tel: +971 4 332-0888                

Fax: +971 4 332-0999               

Email: info@bizcom.ae

 

 


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