Dec 18, 2012 (LBT) - Heralding the news of a prosperous future for Sri Lanka Tourism, the 950,000th tourist was warmly welcomed by a group including Udayanga Weerathunga, the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, Rumy Jauffer, the Managing Director of SLTPB ,S. ShanthiKumar Vice President of Sri Lanka Tourist Hoteliers Association and Mervin Fernandopulle,Past President of Association of Small and Medium Enterprises at Bandaranaike International Airport today (18th) at a special ceremony. Krzysztof Kujawa and Agata Dziekn, landed from Poland Enter Airlines flight no 1293/4, were given special gifts for being the lucky couple from Poland to pass the milestone, so that their next stay in Sri Lanka will be absolutely free.
Agata Dziekn from Polland , a Grafic Designer by profession, said; “After seeing the beauty of Sri Lanka via internet I decided to visit here to spend the holiday. I’m very happy to be the 950,000th tourist to visit Sri Lanka this year. I am really surprised by your warm welcome and the gifts. Next year, I am planning to visit again to spend a magnificent holiday with my friends. Things like this really do help in promoting tourism in a country”. During their 15 day stay in Sri Lanka they will travel Pinnawala, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Pollonnaruwa, Kandy and South beaches.
This is the first time ever that a number of 950,000 tourists, the target of Sri Lanka Tourism for the year 2012, arrived in Sri Lanka. In the month of November,2012 the total number of tourist arrival figure was 109,202; the highest number of tourists ever turned up within a single month in the Sri Lanka Tourism History. It indicates a 20% growth compared to the previous year.
Having identified Russia, Eastern Europe Countries, Japan, China, Korea and India as emerging markets the SLTPB executed a new series of promotional activities incorporating the new strategies of the government. This campaign included travel fairs, roadshows, major advertising campaigns and social media promotions. The said campaign resulted in a greater contribution from the aforesaid countries. It also helped greatly in achieving the target of 950,000 arrivals. This year has seen a major contribution to this total from India, Middle East, U.K ,France, Russia and Eastern Europe Countries.
Also, today the involvement of a number of small and medium enterprises in the tourism industry has helped earn a lot of foreign exchange. Apart from the island wide development process launched by the government, upgrading of infrastructure, road development ,the introduction of new segments like New botanical gardens , the expansion of Expansion Dehiwala zoo, the development of the hotels in the Eastern province and other parts of the country , the Southern Highway and city beautification programmes, Hambantota new Marine port, have contributed in developing the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.
In addition,the construction of Mattala airport, Katunayaka-Colombo Highway and Colombo Outer-Circular Highway are the other programs that will be carried out in future, to develop tourism. With all these facilities an increased number of 1 million tourist arrivals is anticipated this year and in the coming year the number of tourist arrivals expected would exceed that of this year .The part played by the public in achieving this target is very important and the fact that tourism industry and the mindset of the public are linked together is seen as very positive to the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the role that the media played in all this is also greatly appreciated.
At present, the tourism industry has become a major part in bringing about the economic boom in post-conflict Sri Lanka. The peaceful situation of the country and its hereditary beauty mingled to attract many visitors around the globe. With this positive situation at hand, international investors have begun to expand the domestic market to cater for the potential growth of tourist arrivals in following years. For example, the construction of major tourist hotels such as Shangri La, Centara, Marriot, OZO is underway at present.
Under the guidance of the Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapakse, a five year strategic development plan has been launched for tourism sector for the years of 2011-2016, based on the Mahinda Chintana -Vision for the Future - Development Policy Framework. This strategic development plan of Sri Lanka Tourism will achieve its core objectives of serving the needs of all stakeholders and ensuring the economic benefits of the industry distributed to a larger cross section of the society from fisherman, craftsman, farmer, street vendor, tour guide and tour operator, up to the Hotel industry.
Moreover, under the visiting journalists programme, SLTPB also makes yearly arrangements to invite 200 foreign journalists from leading magazines and television channels around the globe and thereby to enhance the image of Sri Lanka. These journalists, after familiarization tours in Sri Lanka, are to write image-building articles on Sri Lanka, upon return to their native countries. Meanwhile SLTPB start a promotion campaign with The British airways in pareral to resume direct flights to Colombo from Gatwick,UK in March 2013. This is an addition to Lonely Planet endorsement for Sri Lanka as best destination to travel for 2013 among global tourism destinations.
With the visionary leadership of the president Mahinda Rajapakse and the Minister Basil Rajapakse the tourism industry is poised for growth being in line with the national effort of making Sri Lanka, the emerging Wonder of Asia.