Restructuring agreement with the IMF will garner for SL considerable international support’

By Hiran H. Senewiratne

Once the bailout agreement with the IMF is implemented, Sri Lanka will win considerable international confidence. This will help in containing our economic crisis, besides enabling the country to achieve a stable dollar parity rate. There will likely be an appreciation in the value of the rupee against the dollar, Minister of Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando said.

“During the last few months we had four road shows in India to promote Sri Lankan tourism and they had a super response. However, due to negative reports in some sections of the Indian media we did not reap maximum benefits from these road shows, Fernando told a media event, where the Dentsu Grant Group together with the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) and The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) launched an integrated campaign – ‘And you thought you knew Sri Lanka’, to promote Sri Lankan tourism. The event was held at Hotel Ramada on Wednesday.

‘The campaign is a pro bono project by Dentsu Grant Group Sri Lanka and Dentsu India, to support the revival of the triple crisis-hit local tourism industry. It was executed following comprehensive research to lure young Indian professionals in the age group 31 – 36 from Bangalore, informed sources said.

‘With Sri Lanka having all the ingredients to be a short-haul adventure destination, the promotion aims to feature lesser-known attractions that will offer brand-new experiences to young Indian professionals who are looking for fun and inspiring getaways with authentic experiences, these sources added.

Speaking at the event Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay said the time has now come to explore greater cooperation for two-way tourism with sizable ties and bonds.

“India has been very supportive of Sri Lanka and the first to help. This support has not been limited to just one sector or industry, but to the people of Sri Lanka. I think India and Sri Lanka are civilizational twins. This factor has made Indians feel comfortable travelling to Sri Lanka, H.C. Baglay added.

The High Commissioner suggested that Sri Lanka explores the possibilities of expanding religious tourism between the two countries as it would further expand the two-way tourism in another layer that will boost arrivals, income and cultural values.

Minister Harin Fernando commended the proactive efforts taken by the private sector to reinvigorate the industry and extended his special thanks to India for their support.

“India has always been our number one tourist-generating market but at present it is number two behind Russia. Our efforts are to make India the number one source market again, he said.

Fernando also appreciated the efforts of those airlines that increased their seating capacities to Sri Lanka, thereby boosting the tourist numbers from December to date.SLAITO president Nishad Fernando expressed confidence in the product offerings through the campaign for younger Indian professionals.

“India is a key market for Sri Lanka. We believe the renewed efforts to attract the tech-savvy, new generation of Indians will be a win-win initiative for all stakeholders, thereby supporting the economic revival of the country, he added.

THASL president M. Shantikumar expects the initiative to help Sri Lanka in reviving the tourism industry and exceeding past figures by the end of this year, with a great start in 2023.

“With the new attractions and activities altogether, we have curated offerings to cater to all segments looking at great travel options in Sri Lanka. Given the great connectivity between India and Sri Lanka, it is an ideal market to explore, he pointed out.

Dentsu Grant Group chairperson Neela Marikkar said they wanted to have a new story to tell the younger audience about the amazing aspects of Sri Lanka they would not know about.

“We are delighted to support SLAITO and THASL to bring in a greater influx of Indian tourists. As a top MarCom agency, we conceptualized a campaign which we feel will strike a chord with the young Indian audience, hoping it would inspire them to visit beautiful Sri Lanka, she explained.

Marikkar also said following the feedback of the campaign in Bangalore, they plan to launch similar campaigns targeting Delhi and Mumbai in the next phase of the campaign.A website featuring locations was also launched by the dignitaries. The website gives a synopsis of what to expect in Sri Lanka. These include; underwater shipwrecks in Pasikuda, Nil diya pokuna in Ella, Kabaragala mountain hike in Sabaragamuwa Province, white water rafting in Kitulgala and water sports in Kalpitiya.

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