Noting that Christmas is the height of the tourist season, he said 1.8 million tourists are expected to arrive by the end of this year, with the target being 2 million.
The Minister made these remarks at a media briefing to announce the ‘Tourism Fest with the spirit of Christmas’ which is scheduled to be held from the 19 to 23 December at the Arcade, Independence Square, in Colombo.
Organised by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) under the Sri Lanka Ministry of Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs, one of the main objectives of the festival is to obtain maximum mileage to promote Sri Lanka as a favoured tourist destination.
It also aims to showcase the culture and heritage of the country to the multitude of tourists who will be visiting in midst of the festive season.
Amaratunga further said that organising events of this nature would satisfy the tourists and they would be inclined to visit more often. It will also encourage others to visit Sri Lanka, he stressed.
“The important thing in tourism is to have events. This is something that is lacking in Sri Lanka,” he opined.
Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Paddy Withana, meanwhile, said, “With tourist arrivals on the rise, we hope to create new avenues for travellers to enjoy their experience in Sri Lanka.”
Furthermore, SLTDA Director General Malraj Kiriella said, “Our objective is to position Sri Lanka as an upscale tourist destination, and organising an event of this nature, showcasing a glimpse of its varied attractions in one location while celebrating in a festive atmosphere would help achieve such aims.»
‘Tourism Fest with the spirit of Christmas’ will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe on 19 December.
The event will feature a food festival filled with stalls by leading hotels and restaurants in Colombo. Live demonstrations of different cuisines will take place giving visitors an opportunity to learn and experience culinary skills of Sri Lanka. It will also serve as an opportunity to promote Sri Lanka’s hotel and tourism industries.
There will also be an exposition of Sri Lankan culture and heritage presented by the Central Cultural Fund, with the intention of promoting Sri Lankan Tourism among the visitors.
The Gem & Jewellery Authority will also be organising an exhibition on Sri Lankan gems with a sales outlet as well. The Zoological Department and the Department of Wildlife will also be involved in this event where each stakeholder will have exhibitions relevant to wildlife and zoological gardens.
The Sri Lanka Tea Board will feature a tea tasting centre with a display of a variety of teas available in the Island. Similarly, Laksala will have a sales outlet with authentic Sri Lankan handicrafts and a display of these items.
The five days of celebrations will also consist of cultural shows being performed by the Sri Lanka Armed forces and Sri Lanka Police. Their performances will include music, traditional dances and modern choreography to cater to the variety of visitors that will be present. Choirs of a variety of schools and churches performing carols will also add to the festivities.
Targeted groups for this festival include tourists visiting Colombo and the suburbs, diplomatic corps, staff members of NGOs and other foreign organisations and the Sri Lankan community as well.
Pix by Lasantha Kumara
See more at: FT