The Hon. Minister described in-depth the many wonders of Sri Lanka: 3000 years of history, 8 UNESCO heritage sites. rich bio-diversity and wildlife including leopard and 1300 km of golden sandy beaches, highlands that rise to 8000 feet above sea level that are home to the world famous Ceylon tea and although only 65,000 km2 in size with diverse and authentic attractions like nowhere else on earth. The minister announced that in 2016 2.1m tourists visited Sri Lanka, with 154, 000 UK visitors this year to date up 7.4 % from 2016. Not to mention being the only country on earth where the two biggest mammals on land and in the sea can be seen on the same day
The minister commented “Some of the main reasons for this positive growth is that British tourists have come to realise that Sri Lanka is home away from home, due to our historical connections,” he continued, “this includes our British era buildings, English signage, English spoken as one of our three official languages and Westminster style of governance”. Britain is the only country in Europe with direct flights by SriLankan Airlines and now enjoys online visa facilities. The minister advised that since the end of civil war in 2009 tourist arrivals have increased by 400% to this very safe country. “A changing political landscape based on good governance, respect for human rights, upholding of democratic values and a vibrant, engaging foreign policy have ensured that the bi-lateral relations between the UK and Sri Lanka are the closest they have ever been.” he added.
The honourable minister went on to list the many activities and adventures available from surfing, kite surfing and powerboat racing to ballooning, parachuting, golf, the IronMan marathon, or medical and wellness tourism. With a sophisticated accommodation sector, friendly and hospitable people Sri Lanka is ideal for both the leisure and MICE markets. Concluding that the new plan sets out a roadmap to raise service levels, offer exciting new products, open up new destinations and create a vibrant events calendar to attract a global audience showing the way forward to increase revenue, support local communities and grow tourism on a sustainable platform that protects the environment.