Upali Ratnayake – Director General, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, KavanRatnayaka – Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Hon. Harin Fernando – Minister of Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure and Foreign Employment, Amanpreet Bajaj – Country Manager, Airbnb – India and Sri Lanka, Thao Nguyen – Airbnb’s APAC Head of Strategic Partnerships
Airbnb and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), the national tourism ministry, today announced a strategic partnership to launch Airbnb Experiences in Sri Lanka and drive local, authentic and sustainable tourism across the country.
Through this Asia-first partnership, Airbnb and SLTDA will work together to onboard local experience hosts onto the Airbnb platform and help local people from across Sri Lanka share their passions and interests with travelers from around the world.
Travelers can now choose from more than 40 Airbnb Experiences in Sri Lanka designed and led by local experts. Our Sri Lankan hosts offer a wide range of Experiences, from heritage trails in Galle to surfing experiences in Mirissa, and adventure walks in Sri Lanka’s national parks to discovering the best local food spots in Colombo.
“We’re delighted to sign this partnership with the Sri Lankan Tourism Ministry – the first partnership of its kind in Asia,” said Amanpreet Bajaj, Country Manager India & Sri Lanka. “Through this Asia-first partnership, travelers, led by passionate local hosts, will be able to immerse themselves in unique cultural experiences across Sri Lanka.”
“We are excited to work with AirBnB to promote experiences in Sri Lanka and we are of the view that an engagement of this nature would be of great value to the tourism industry of Sri Lanka. We look forward to offer a high-level of commitment to support AirBnB Experiences and use this opportunity to add value to the tourism experience that Sri Lanka offers.” – KavanRatnayaka, Chairman, SLTDA
“Through the partnership announced today, we’re excited to work with the Sri Lankan government to promote tourism that is local, authentic and sustainable,” said Thao Nguyen, Airbnb’s APAC Head of Strategic Partnerships. “Airbnb experience hosts are the embodiment of healthy travel. Our Sri Lankan hosts are local microentrepreneurs sharing their passions to earn vital income, while providing the kind of authentic experiences that tourists want.”
Airbnb Experiences are activities or excursions that are led by passionate local hosts, highlighting their interests and perspective as well as unique places many visitors might not otherwise get to experience. Social Impact Experiences are also being launched which involve local non-profit organizations working with Airbnb to develop Experiences that will help the communities they serve and engage in meaningful social courses around the globe. Airbnb waives all fees and ensures that all proceeds go directly to the non-profit supported by each Experience.
Launched in 2016 with 500 experiences across 12 cities, the Airbnb platform now offers over 15,000 experiences in 800+ cities. By the end of this year, we will have expanded into at least a thousand around the world.
Guests visiting Sri Lanka and locals can book a range of experiences based on their interests, as a taster we have provided a few examples including:
Flavours of Colombo – Hosted by Jonathan, who is also an Airbnb Home Host since 2013. Having lived in Colombo, Jonathan is a passionate foodie who knows all the hot-spots in Colombo. The tour covers three food venues and he also shows guests some of Colombo’s hidden alleys and cultural treasures that a tourist may not be able to discover on their own.
Surfing in Mirissa – Hosted by Priyal, a International Surfing Association Level 1 coach who has been teaching surfing for the last seven years, the experience is meant for both beginners and intermediate surfers and takes place along the beautiful South West coast — a wave garden with more than 15 surfing spots easily accessible from the surf camp.
Galle Fort Walks – Hosted by Atheeq, a budding photographer who is a 5th generation member of the gem trading family of Galle and a firm believer in supporting the local micro-economy of Sri Lanka. The walk showcases the diverse Portuguese, Dutch & British influences of the Galle Fort with interesting stories and facts, while leisurely navigating through its charming alleyways and discovering the fascinating blend of local design traditions and European colonial influence.
Nature & Wildlife
Minneriya Park Elephant Safari – Hosted by Amila, the experience takes place at the world renowned Minneriya National Park, which is reported as the largest known wild Asian Elephant gathering in the world. At this experience, the guests get to venture into the untamed wild of Minneriya on a Safari Jeep. It is followed by a visit to the stunning Minneriya reservoir where guests can spot crocodiles, vibrant birds and various other animals, including herds of elephants.
Selyn Fair Trade Experience: A behind the scenes look at Sri Lanka’s only Guaranteed Fair Trade Handloom. The Experience is hosted by Selyn, who conceptualized this experience and heads business development at Selyn as a fundraiser for the Selyn Foundation, and Yasodhara, who leads the tours. At this experience, guests get a glimpse of the dye plant where the handloom process begins, weaving sites to experience the tradition of handloom dating back to inception of Sri Lankan history, a visit to the Selyn headquarters where around 125 local women work together to create the finished products, followed by a traditional lunch at village and visit to their main showroom.
** This is a Social Impact experience & all proceeds go to the Selyn Foundation – non profit arm of Selyn Handloom, with the vision of providing additional livelihood assistance to women artisans engaged with Selyn and their wider communities.
* All Experiences listed are intended to illustrate and inspire. Airbnb does not recommend any individual experience over another.