Sri Lankan tourism minister Harin Fernando and his team currently touring India venturing into a series of road shows to promote the country’s tourism, said on Wednesday that the country is making its visa formalities more simpler and faster along with extending the stay under tourist visa to 90 days instead of the current 30 days. The minister said that the country’s tourism industry is also looking to expand its bilateral and cultural ties with its Indian counterparts, in an interview with Free Press Journal. Excerpts:
Could you elaborate on the point that Sri Lankan tourism sector is exploring extended collaboration with its Indian counterparts?
India has always been our key market for generating tourism. We, at this point of time when the image of Sri Lanka is poor in the eyes of the world, affected by widespread negative publicity, wanted to explore options to strengthen that relationship. As part of this, we are in talks with Indian airline companies, media, hospitality players and tour operators for extending their presence in Sri Lanka. We have several rounds of talks with the film and entertainment industry to exploit Sri Lanka’s vast potential.
Which are the companies you are in discussion with in India?
We had a series of discussions with all industry stakeholders including the Center and State ministries, airline companies, including Indigo, SpiceJet and Air India for commencing more schedules and also to connect Colombo with more locations in India, especially Gujarat and other states in the west and north states. We are also in talks with Club Mahindra and other hospitality companies in India to have more investments in Sri Lanka, especially in the new tourism spots that the country is developing currently.
What is the key theme in the Indian road shows and how many cities are being included in the whole campaign?
The main purpose of hosting these road shows in India is to promote Sri Lanka as an attractive tourism destination across India, as it is one of Sri Lanka’s key source markets and has been extremely supportive in Sri Lanka regaining lost momentum both post pandemic and the recent economic downturn. The first road show was held in New Delhi on and followed by Mumbai and Hyderabad. Along with the road shows, the events are also focusing on promoting a myriad of tourism experiences while highlighting the positive message that Sri Lanka is open for leisure, business and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and entertainments) tourism.