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Published on : Saturday, November 16, 2013
Colombo — Sri Lanka hosted its biggest ever tourism forum on Thursday with 150 international travel and tour operators and 160 Sri Lankan operators attending the event. Organised by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), it was scheduled to coincide with the ongoing Commonwealth Summit in Colombo.
“This is to promote tourism holistically and get the maximum mileage from CHOGM,” said Bhashwara Senaka Gunarathna, Chairman of the SLTPB and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.
Operators from 13 countries, including neighbor India, attended the event. Gunarathna said that though Indians continues to contribute the biggest chunk of tourists to Sri Lanka, 70-80 per cent of the new tourists to the country were from China, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
“Around one-third of the operators at the Forum are from Russia,” he said, hailing it as a good sign for Sri Lankan tourism. There were 65 Russian travel agents/ operators, and around 10 Indian operators at the event. “We believe we can get more from India, but our bread and butter is from Eastern Europe,” he said.
Sarangi Thilakasena, Assistant Director of the SLTPB, said: “Our emerging targets are China, Japan and Russia, and there is rigorous promotion in these areas. In the next couple of years we have planned international road-shows to promote tourism in Sri Lanka. In India we had two big promotional events in Mumbai and Bangalore this year. We are planning one in Delhi in the first quarter of 2014.”
“We have set a target of reaching 2.5 million tourists by 2016,” Gunarathna said.” This is a
part of the “Mahinda Chinthana – Vision for the Future” that hopes to position Sri Lanka as a Wonder of Asia.”