December 16, 2019
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    ‘Sri Lanka Tourism invests Rs. 1 bn for infrastructure’ Featured

    October 29, 2019

    Sri Lanka Tourism has invested over Rs. one billion in 2019 so far for infrastructure development in the country, said Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga. In an interview with ‘Daily News,’ he said that in addition, funds were also allocated for marketing. The Minister said that the Ministry had allocated over Rs. 120 million towards the development of the Jaffna International Airport.
    The Jaffna Airport would be a game changer not only for the North, but to the entire North Eastern Provinces, helping to usher economic prosperity to the areas. “There would be new income generating options for people due to the opening of the Airport, not only for the Tourism sector, but other stake holders as well.”He said that more hotels would are needed and this too would be another good investment option.
    The Minister added that the National Holiday Resort in Bentota which operates under the purview of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) too, was refurbished and opened early this month. Bentota is the oldest resort property under SLTDA, with a land extent of 100 acres.The SLTDA also operates a Holiday Bungalow on the resort property.
    He also said that similarly, Holiday Bungalows in Nuwara Eliya too were developed along with several other Bungalows in Anuradhapura. “He also added that the most needed infrastructure for National Parks to provide a better experience for local and foreign travellers.” The Minister said the Ministry is keen on helping to produce future HR talent for the industry and are working closely with the Hotel School (SLITHM).SLITHM has 8 Provincial schools located at Koggala, Kandy, Ratnapura, Bandarawela, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Pasikudah and Jaffna. “Around 4,500 students are trained every year and we are now looking at increasing the intake.”
    SLITHM is the sole institute which conducts Training Programs for National Tourist Guides and Chauffeur Tourist Guides. “Recently it introduced new programs for Adventure Tourism and Executive Diploma in Event Management. ”SLITHM was awarded with the ISO 9001-2015 quality certification in 2018 and we are in the process of obtaining the QMS certification too.” Amaratunge said that soon after the Easter Sunday blasts, several quick meaningful steps were taken to cushion the impact of the industry. “These measures have proved to be effective, while tourism recovery is faster than what we had anticipated.”

    We also managed to get around 20,000 visitors from around 40 countries to attend the ‘Bohra’ Convention in Colombo soon after the Easter Sunday attacks, sending positive messages to the world that Sri Lanka is a safe place to travel. Hotels not only in Colombo, but even up to Galle and Negombo, were occupied by the ‘Bohras,’ providing a much needed financial injection to the hoteliers. Several religious festivals such as the Kandy Perahera, the Nallur Festival were also conducted sans any incident, sending out the message to the world once again. The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) is planning to host their Annual Convention in Sri Lanka later this year. Over 400 industry leaders and media delegates would be attending the annual sessions scheduled to be held from November 11 to 13 2019, in Colombo.

    He said global airiness reduced their frequencies to Colombo, while some flights had been cancelled for a short period, but have commenced their pre Easter Sunday attack flight schedules. “New airlines such as Alliance and Air Vistara from India, LOT Polish Airlines too would be launching flights to Colombo from November.”“We were also able to take off adverse travel advisories against Sri Lanka, while introducing Free Visa on arrival policy for 45 countries which was well received globally.
    The Minister also said that the in addition the government offered a relief financial package to the industry which also helps towards the survival of the travel and tourism industry.“However, I must say that the Easter Sunday blasts did have a negative impact for arrivals and the upcoming winter would not be up to expectations. Sri Lanka Tourism was looking at an arrival target to the excess of 2.5 million and I think we would end the year with around 2 million.”
    Sri Lanka has been appointed as one of the two Vice Chairpersons for South Asia Commission of United Nations orld Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for the period 2019 to 2021.“These important appointments show recognition that Sri Lanka has gained much as a global tourism destination in the last couple of years. It would help Sri Lanka contribute to the world tourism agenda in a meaningful manner and further consolidate its position as a top player in the international arena,” said Minister Amaratunga. Sri Lankan Tourism has been named as a premier partner at WTM London 2019, beginning next week. The partnership would herald global coverage for the destination, which has also teamed with former Sri Lankan Cricketer Captain Kumar Sangakkara, to continue the country’s tourism recovery, “which too is a great honour for Sri Lanka.”

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