A five year special promotion program will be launched in order to attract tourists to the island. Hon. Tourism Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga says that this promotion campaign will be implemented, targeting the countries from which more tourists visit Sri Lanka. A strategic development plan has already been prepared for this. Hon. Minister says that Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for this plan.
Hon. Minister has also appointed a high level committee of experts in the field of tourism to implement this promotion program. Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Mr.S. Hettiarachchi is the Chairman of the committee. Mrs. Kimali Fernando, Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority; Mrs.Madhubashini Perera, Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau; the experts in the field, Mr.Hiran Coorey, Chairman, Tourism Advisory Committee; Mr.Thilak Weerasinghe, Chairman, SLAITO; Mr.Sanath Ukwatta, Chairman, THASL; Mr.Shaminda Perera, General Manager-Marketing, Sri Lankan Airlines; Mr.Nimesh Herath, Coordinator of the Hon.Minister are the other members of this committee.
The appointment letters to these high level committee members were awarded by the Hon. Minister yesterday (22) and Hon. Minister also participated in the first discussion of the committee.
Speaking at the event, Hon.Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga said that he hopes to promote Sri Lanka as one of the most attractive tourist destinations and Covid free safest countries in the world. Hon.Minister said that controlling the Covid epidemic, the decision taken to open the country to tourists was a very challenging decision and the reason for this decision was to provide relief to around 3 million people who are engaged in the tourism industry.
He said that the government has set a target of attracting 7 million tourists to the island annually by the end of its term and providing US $ 10 billion in revenue to the national economy from the tourism industry and that the government is working hard to achieve this goal despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hon.Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga stated that the number of tourists visiting the country has exceeded 5,000 since January 21 and that tourist arrivals to the country would return to normal in a few more months and that it is the responsibility of the Tourism Development Authority to attract as many tourists as possible to the island.
"We have to face this challenge as a team. There are allegations that various irregularities have taken place in the promotion campaign implemented in the recent past to bring tourists to this country. One of the responsibilities of this high level committee is to prevent such irregularities and to ensure that global promotion activities are carried out in a very transparent manner”said Hon.Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga.
The development of new tourism products is also aimed at promoting tourism around the world such as tourism based on Buddhist trails, wellness and Ayurveda based tourism, film shootings, adventure sports, international sports competitions, eco-tourism and so on. It was also decided to seek the assistance of the Sri Lankan Missions abroad.
Hon.Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga is handing over the letter of appointment to Committee Chairman, Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Mr.S. Hettiarachchi.