One of Asia's new tourist hotspots has become more accessible for Australians with the launch of the first non-stop flights between Melbourne and Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The inaugural SriLankan Airlines flight between the two cities arrived in Melbourne on Monday afternoon. It's the first time an airline has run a non-stop flight between Melbourne and Sri Lanka.
The airline will operate an Airbus A330-200 daily on the route, featuring 18 business class and 251 economy class seats. The 10-hour flights will also featured a dedicated "childcare stewardess" to assist travelling families.
Melbourne Airport chief of aviation Simon Gandy welcomed the new flights and pointed to the growing connection between the two cities.
"The connection between Melbourne and Sri Lanka is strong; according to 2016 census data there are more than 55,000 Sri Lankans living in Victoria," he said. "That local population has grown by some 27 per cent since 2011."
It won't just be those with existing connections to Sri Lanka who will be interested in the new route. Sri Lanka has become one of the world's new hotspots for tourism.
Traveller's writers named Sri Lanka at No. 4 on our "Destinations of the Decade" list.
"In the past eight years, hundreds of thousands of Australians have flocked to Sri Lanka and been gob-smacked by its beauty, affordability, and ease - and then flown home and told others about it," wrote Lance Richardson.
"But it has only been eight years (since the end of the civil war). Sri Lanka is still healing. And as it does, it offers one of the most dynamic and spectacular travel experiences on the planet."
The airline, part of the Oneworld alliance, also offers quick connections to the Maldives, which is about one hour away, along with connections into 14 cities in India.