Sri Lanka Tourism celebrates Golden Jubilee on Friday



The month of May 2016marks a golden milestone for Sri Lanka Tourism with the grand celebration of its 50th anniversary.

Earlier referred to as the Ceylon Tourist Board, it was the official government body responsible for all tourism related activities and development within the country. The Ceylon Tourist Board was established on 2May 1966 by Tourism Act No. 10 of 1966. It is now branched into four institutions, namely, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB).

Sri Lanka Tourism has initiated a series of activities to celebrate this historic occasion. An attractive logo which depicts the various tourist attractions of Sri Lanka was launched in March powering a more meaningful beginning to this event. The grand celebrations will draw the attention of both local and global tourism enthusiasts, bringing a strong word of mouth to brand Sri Lanka.

Amongst the planned activities, 50 foreign nationals are already in the country talking about Sri Lanka and it has grabbed the attention of many tourism lovers in the Sri Lankan tourism industry. These videos will be released to the social media channels at the inaugural ceremony which will be held on 27May at the main hall of the BMICH with the participation of the four institutions.

Along with the celebrations a commemorative volume, a commemorative stamp and a video film on the 50-year history of the industry will be launched at the national ceremony. Individuals who have contributed to the development and growth of the tourism industry throughout the years will be felicitated as ‘Legends of Tourism’ along with appreciation awards for long service staff members of the institutions at this event. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Executive Director of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) are expected to attend the official ceremony on 27 May.

This event will be followed by a National Exhibition of Artefacts in Tourism which will showcase important milestones of Sri Lanka Tourism since its establishment in 1966. The exhibition will take place from 27to 29May. Sri Lanka Tourism has already conducted a series of competitions for children and adultsin parallel to this Golden Jubilee Celebrations. A stamp will be issued at the main celebration platform. The prizes for the children’s essay, arts competition and photo and videography competitions will also be presented on the same stage. A number of social media competitions are also being promoted to coincide with the 50th anniversary celebrations such as 50 best experiences of Sri Lanka and 50 best food of Sri Lanka.

Other events at the BMICH premises from 27to 29May include exhibition on memories of 50 years of Sri Lanka Tourism, exhibitions of cultural heritage, gem and jewellery, Sri Lankan handicrafts, wildlife conservation, zoological and botanical gardens and Ceylon Tea by relevant Government organisations, Sancharaka Udawa – Exhibition of Tourism products meet mart in Sri Lanka organised by Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators. A Home Stay village showcasing rural tourism activities and cultural shows presented by the armed forces.

Over the years various highly regarded professionals led each of these institutions together with the devoted team at Sri Lanka Tourism to achieve the targets and goals in the Sri Lankan tourism industry. Accounting only 18,969 tourist arrivals in the year 1966, Sri Lanka Tourism industry has progressed dramatically over five decades to receive an all-time high of 1.8 million annual tourist arrivals at the end of the year 2015. Previous year total arrivals showed a 17.8% year on year growth and that will be expected to continually improve over the upcoming years by financially strengthening the nation.

Further, over the next several years Sri Lanka Tourism will focus on sustainable tourism development by improving the stability between the tourism related commercial development with a natural and socio-cultural uplift. With this positive vision towards the future of the tourism industry, Sri Lanka Tourism is heading towards new challenges with the accomplishment of continued progress, regardless of the rising competition in the global tourism sector.

Source :

SLTD finalises Colombo land for MICE venue

The Ministry of Tourism has finalised a land in Colombo for the proposed Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) centre that was announced in this year’s budget, officials said.

Chairman, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) Prema Cooray told the Business Times on the sidelines of a press briefing on JEV 2016 Congress (formerly known as SNAV 2016 Congress) being held in Colombo in October, that already a 4.5 acre land has been identified and the process is on with the line agencies to secure this property.

The recent budget has proposed to construct the largest capacity conference facility in Colombo and allocated Rs. 3 billion for the new centre. The government has proposed to establish the necessary infrastructure to create a MICE Triangle consisting of the BMICH, Nelum Pokuna Theatre and the New Town Hall.

According to a SLCB official this land in Colombo is under the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the agencies under the Tourism Ministry had provided the relevant information for the proposal to the Minister.

The MICE tourist spends US$ 300 – 400 per day, which is 3-4 times more than an average holidaymaker, he said adding that it is the ‘cream’ of businesses. JEV is the biggest travel association in France and that organisation holding their annual convention in Sri Lanka this year where leaders of the travel and tourism trade in France will be attending the sessions in Colombo will be a huge boost to the tourism industry, Mr. Cooray told media.

The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau which comes under the Ministry of Tourism Development is making all arrangements to host this congress which will see some 450 participants with their spouses and partners. (DEC)

Source :

Tourism Minister to woo Chinese and Indians for weddings in SL

Minister of Tourism Development John Amaratunga on his visit to China to participate in the World Conference on Tourism for Development last Tuesday said he has plans to woo the Chinese to hold their weddings in Sri Lanka.

A flute player at Kandalama Hotel, which is also popular for weddings.“I was approached by many Indian parties to host their weddings here and also a few Chinese parties. In China I will explore this matter further and aim to get some mass weddings here,” Mr. Amaratunga told the Business Times.

He said that Sri Lanka has always been an ideal destination for exotic wedding ceremonies and currently it enjoys the third spot on most popular destination for weddings and honeymoons in the world.

Indians are famous for mass destination weddings here and in March Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone was in Sri Lanka with her boyfriend, Ranveer Singh, also an actor for her best friend’s destination wedding.

Mr. Amaratunga said that some Chinese parties have already expressed interest in destination weddings in the island.

For mass weddings, hot-air balloon drifting, a jungle setting, wide sandy beach with an elephant, a riverboat cruising, private island, tea plantations, to a private ceremony in an old church in the hill country are all possibilities that Sri Lanka can provide, ministry officials said.

According to Mr. Amaratunga the conference which coincides with the China Tourism Day, was to be addressed by Chinese leaders and bring together others in the areas of tourism and development to spur dialogue and create a better understanding of tourism’s contribution to development, including poverty alleviation and peace.

“I have also been appointed as a panelist for a discussion under the theme of peace and poverty. I also have been given the opportunity to meet the Head of the Chinese Tourism Ministry and my request to meet five leading travel agents in China has been met positively. I believe this will add considerable value to our industry.”

On this occasion, China, as chair of the G20, was also hosting the 7th G20 Tourism Ministers’ Meeting under the theme “Sustainable Tourism – An Effective Tool for Inclusive Development”. Kalpitiya The Government is entertaining proposals to develop islands in Kalpitiya and Jaffna, Minister of Tourism and Development, John Amaratunga said.

He told the Business Times that two hotel groups from Maldives and a company in Europe are interested in Kalpitiya and that the Ministry wants the diaspora to invest in the Jaffna islands.

“We want them to come and build properties in the Jaffna islands. We’ll have a programme for them soon to inform them of our intention,” he said. Some 11 islands under the Kalpitiya development project are to be given on 30-99 year leases and the Maldivian hoteliers are interested, he added.

Mr. Amaratunga said one hotel group was in Colombo last week to discuss possible development in Kalpitiya. He added that in Jaffna more than 35 islands can be turned into hotel resorts.

Source  :

Sri Lanka Tourism’s roadshow in Brisbane an overwhelming success


The second event of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s (SLTPB) Australian Roadshows was heralded as an overwhelming success. Eclipsing other tourism roadshows by generating more delegates than ever before in Brisbane, the roadshow attracted 74 Australian travel agents, media and tour operators.
Australia’s largest outbound travel agency, Flight Centre showed exceptionally strong attendance, which bodes well for arrivals into Sri Lanka.

Other companies represented included Wend Wu Tours and Infinity Holidays – two of Australia’s foremost tour operators – as well as many niche wildlife, surf, and nature specialists.

Addressing the delegation, which also included representatives from 26 Sri Lankan based tourism suppliers, SLTPB’s Director of Marketing Madubhani Perera said that Australia is currently the seventh most important nation for tourism arrivals into Sri Lanka and is on a strong growth curve of 9% last year, with a target of 70,000 arrivals offered for 2016.

The roadshows in Australia are just one of the strategies that SLTPB is leveraging over the coming year to increase awareness in Australia, which is proving to be a significant growth market in years to come.

The event, held at the five star Sofitel hotel in Brisbane’s central business district, also featured a key note address from Mr Anton Philip Swan, honorary consul general for Sri Lanka in Brisbane as well as a traditional oil lamp lighting ceremony.

Guests were treated to a three-course dinner, nearly two hours’ worth of intensive B2B meetings between Australian and Sri Lankan travel industry partners and nine lucky Australians even won a range of fully hosted fact finding trips to Sri Lanka courtesy of Pledge Holidays, Golden Isle, Cinnamon Air, Singapore Airlines, Bernard Tours, Airwings Tours, Hawk Travel and Lanka Sportreizen. (Source:

Source :

Tender for SL tourism promotional partners in coming weeks: minister

In a bid to fast track the launch of the destination campaign, the Tourism Development Ministry said that the tenders for a suitable promotion partner were set to be advertised in the coming weeks.

Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga shared it with the industry players having urged the need for launching the campaign sooner than later, the necessary measures are being taken to ensure the exercise is not delayed.

“We are going to advertise soon for the tenders for the companies that can do the promotional work for Sri Lanka Tourism. That will be done very soon, most likely in the coming weeks. Thereafter we will do the evaluation and go ahead. That is the propaganda part of it,” shared Amaratunga.

He added that all the tour boards were “very keen” to get the promotional activities off the ground, thus the ministry was moving in full steam to kick off the campaign. It was said that the tenders would be open for both, local and foreign companies.

“We are going to be open with this. We welcome proposals from local and foreign companies, there will be no limitation. Our objective is to have an exceptional promotional campaign for Sri Lanka tourism, one that is impactful. We will go ahead with any company that fulfils that. We want to get in a recognised party, the right party,” said the minister.

He emphasised that the Tourism Ministry and its relevant departments are now “highly active” to make certain the industry received the maximum and much wanted attention. Furthermore, the stakeholders are keen on moving the tourism sector from being the third largest to become the nation’s second largest foreign exchange earner in the near future.

It was also shared that the ministry has taken the decision to attend all international conferences and conventions on tourism to further promote the country. “We will be attending it all,” Amaratunga said. The minister left for Beijing, China on May 17 to attend the inaugural World Conference on Tourism for Development, which kicked off yesterday. He was invited to participate as a panellist at a high-level session.

During his visit, the minister would meet the head of the Chinese Tourism Ministry and China’s top five travel agents.

Source :

Revisiting Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is shining brightly as a destination hot spot and is catching the eyes the attention of travellers around the world, but particularly Chinese and Middle Eastern visitors.

In 2015, Sri Lanka welcomed nearly 1.8 million visitors, which is up a whopping 17.8% from the previous year. The bump in visitation is largely due to a growth in the number of Chinese visitors to the country.

Last year, Sri Lanka received almost 1.8 million tourists, up 17.8% from the previous year – and the trend has continued into 2016. Recently, the government released April tourism numbers and visitor numbers have continued to rise, largely as a result of an influx in Chinese tourists.

According to the report, 721,185 tourists visited the island compared to the 601,055 who visited during the corresponding period in 2015, an increase of 20%. While tourist arrivals from North America and Europe were up, most of the increase came from visitors in East Asia. The region’s visitor numbers increased 22.6% – and China was up nearly 38%.

On the whole, visitor numbers have increased in Sri Lanka from everywhere except Eastern Europe, which could largely be due to the state of the Russian economy and political climate. Russian visitors were down around 28%.

According to the Famagusta Gazette, Sri Lanka has set a target of attracting 2.5 million tourists by the end of this year and 4 million visitors by 2020. One of the ways it intends to reach this goal is by targeting Chinese travellers. The government is, in particular, targeting Chinese airlines to encourage more arrivals in the country.

“We will assure China and the other countries that Sri Lanka is a safe tourist destination for its travellers. China is already one of our top markets and we hope to attract more visitors this year,” Sri Lanka Tourism Minister John Amaratunga told the gazette.

China isn’t the only country that has caught the Sri Lanka travel bug. The Middle East is another growing market for Sri Lanka tourism. In April, visitor arrivals from the Middle East increased 5.8% bringing 5,803 visitors from around the region and the country expects that tourism from the region will increase by 10%.

To continue its trajectory, Sri Lanka is planning to host a tourism conference in July. The conference will cover the topic “Tourism: A Catalyst for Development Peace and Reconciliation” and will be held at Pasikudah in Batticaloa from 11-14 July. The event will receive assistance from the UN World Trade Organization and about 100 foreigners, including resource persons and journalists, are expected to be in attendance. (

Source :

SL tourism to come under spotlight hosting JEV 2016

Come October, the local tourism industry will fall under fresh spotlight with the prestigious JEV Conference 2016 of France slated to take place in Colombo.

Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau Chairman Prema Cooray during the press conferenceJEV Conference 2016, Les Journées Des Entrepreneurs Du Voyage, which will kick off on October 31, is scheduled to go on till November 4.

The official opening of the event is set to take place at the BMICH on December 31 while the technical sessions will be held at Cinnamon Grand Colombo. In addition to an interactive session with local travel agents that will take place on the opening day, the five-day event also includes islandwide visits.

The annual conference, known as the flagship event of French travel agents, is expected to bring 400 delegates. According to the Tourism Ministry, Sri Lanka selected to host the event will bring fresh boost to the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism and the sector as a whole. “400 travel agents with their partners will be in Sri Lanka and that will have a snowballing effect in promoting French inbound tourist in Sri Lanka, a market we are keen on witnessing further improvement,” said Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga. It was shared that the publicity value amongst French nationals as a result of the event would be US $ 75 million.

Hosting JEV Conference 2016, Sri Lanka aims to increase French tourist by 15 percent between 2017 and 2018. While it is aimed to attract approximately 100,000 travellers each year, it was shared that revenue from that market is expected to surge by 10 percent and reach an annual target of US $ 200 million.

France has been a vital market for Sri Lanka tourism but witnessed dampened progress in the recent years due to uncertain environment attributed to the ethnic conflict. However, it has been observed that a surge in interest in the island nation has been expressed. Sri Lanka has been successful in being listed as one of the top 20 countries to visit in France and is expected to be named as the destination of the year by 2017.

According to Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) Chairman Prema Cooray, all ground and air arrangements have been finalised. “The industry will work together to promote the event from now on wards,” said Cooray.

In 2012, Sri Lanka pitched to host the event but failed in its attempt. Hosting JEV Conference 2016 in Sri Lanka will be the first time in 10 years the event has been held in Sri Lanka. Other Asian countries that hosted the event include China and Thailand.

Source :


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 524 other followers