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Pakistan and Sri Lanka launch a joint tourism promotion programme.  The Ministers of Tourism of the two countries reached an agreement today (24) to take immediate action in this regard as per the Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism Cooperation signed yesterday (23).

The bilateral talks between Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism, Hon.Prasanna Ranatunga and Pakistani Minister of Tourism Hon.Saheed Zulfikar Abbas Bakari, who is a representative of the delegation accompanying the His Excellency the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan on an official visit to Sri Lanka, were held at the Ministry of Tourism today (24).

Pakistan's Minister of Tourism Hon.Saheed Zulfikar Abbas Bakari said that there are ancient ruins of Buddhist heritage in many parts of Pakistan.  He pointed out that the implementation of a joint programme between the two countries would boost the tourism industry of both countries, as Sri Lankan tourists are more interested in visiting the Buddhist heritage of the ruins of ancient civilizations.  Tourism Minister, Hon. Prasanna Ranatunga said that the Pakistan cricket team is scheduled to tour the island in June, which will also boost Sri Lanka's tourism industry.

The focus was mainly on opening countries for tourists as an air travel bubble due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  The Ministers decided to take the necessary steps in this regard as per the Health Guidelines.  There are already direct flights to Sri Lanka from Karachi and Lahore in Pakistan.  Minister, Hon. Prasanna Ranatunga stated that the focus is on starting direct flights to Islamabad as well. The Pakistan Tourism Minister suggested that the two countries should also pay attention to the organization of club cricket tournaments between two countries in addition to the international cricket tournaments.  Minister, Hon. Prasanna Ranatunga stated that the attention of Sports Minister, Hon Namal Rajapaksa will be drawn to this matter.

At this meeting, it was decided to inform the tour operators of the two countries to implement the provisions of the MoU expeditiously.  There was also a lengthy exchange of views on expanding tourism investment opportunities between the two countries.

Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Mr. S. Hettiarachchi and Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Mrs. Kimali Fernando also participated in the discussion.

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