With the expansion bilateral ties between Sri Lanka and Germany following the recent State visit to Germany by President MaithripalaSirisena, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga invited German nationals to not only to visit Sri Lanka but also seize the many opportunities available for investment in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. The Minister made this comment during a press conference hosted by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau at the ITB Travel Trade Show in Germany on March 10, 2016.
“Today Sri Lanka is one of the most peaceful places on Earth. With the stability the new unity government has to offer, the fundamentals are in place to develop tourism and attract investment,” the Minister said. The press conference was well attended by journalists from the electronic and print media from across Europe. Minister John Amaratunga, was a comprised by Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Germany Mr. KarunatilakaAmunugama, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Paddy Withana, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ajith Dias, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) President DevindraSenaratne, Colombo City Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (CCHA) President M. Shanthikumar and Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET) President RohanAbeywickrama.
“We are planning to develop new tourism zones across the country. Steps are being taken to increase the number of flights into Sri Lanka. The existing Airports will be developed to make internal travel easier. We are also looking at constructing convention centres capable of holding more than 7,000 participants with all-modern facilities to cater for conferences and exhibitions. In addition to our traditional attractions we are also focusing on promoting event based tourism, tourism based on calendar events, MICE tourism, sports tourism, health and medical tourism. The homestay programmes we have initiated are designed to allow tourists to obtain the authentic flavour of our culture as well as our unique lifestyles,” explained Amaratunga. The Tourism Minister, who drew attention to the golden jubilee celebrations of both Sri Lanka Tourism and the ITB, recalled the difficult days during the war when the tourism industry was on its knees. He noted that despite the war the German tourists always kept coming to Sri Lanka and the country was very appreciative of it.
“For long years, even during the height of the war, German tourists never stopped visiting Sri Lanka. Our links in the tourism field go back a long way. What began as a trickle of German tourists to Sri Lanka 50 years ago is now a steady stream and rapidly gaining in volume in the last few years. In fact last year arrivals from Germany grew by an impressive 22% year on year. At present Germany is Sri Lanka’s second biggest market in Europe accounting for approximately 6.5% of all tourist arrivals to the country in 2015,” he said.
Meanwhile the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy State Secretary Iris Gleicke visited the Sri Lanka Pavilion on 9 March. Gleicke appreciated Sri Lanka’s commitment to responsible tourism and its efforts to enshrine certain safeguards in its constitution.