Destination Sri Lanka was a hot favourite at the world’s leading travel and trade show ITB, which opened in Berlin, Germany last week.
The event is the largest global tourism platform connecting more than 180 countries with thousands of potential buyers from all parts of the globe.
Although news of the events in Kandy over the past few days overshadowed the grand opening of the Sri Lanka Pavilion, it did not dampen the enthusiasm and interest of the thousands of visitors who have been flocking to the pavilion.
Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga, who declared open the Sri Lanka Pavilion, made use of the opportunity to inform and reassure the international tourism community that the unfortunate events that affected the areas located along the outskirts of Kandy were now under control and that normalcy had been restored in the affected areas.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) showcased an eye-catching pavilion and created a business setting for 68 hoteliers and tour operators from Sri Lanka to network with the global tourism industry.
The Sri Lanka Pavilion was tastefully designed, taking into consideration the interests of European travellers. The many diverse holiday experiences, tourism products and services available in the country were thematically exhibited at the pavilion in order to attract visitors of varying demographics and travel interests.
The onsite attractions included Ayurveda spa therapy for visitors who could also enjoy a cup of pure Ceylon tea served at the tea boutique located within the pavilion. Another highlight was a selfie competition arranged in order to drive traffic to the social media sites of Sri Lanka Tourism. Winners of the selfie competition will be offered airline tickets and holiday packages by the private sector in order to create greater awareness of the destination through digital media.
The Sri Lanka pavilion was declared opened by Minster Amaratunga along with Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Germany, Karunasena Hettiarachchi, SLTPB Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam, senior officials and members of the tourism industry of Sri Lanka. Federal Foreign Office of Germany Director Dr. Almer and Sri Lanka Honorary Consuls Thomas Kiriwat and Nihal Samarasinghe were also present at the grand ceremony.
Minister Amaratunga highlighted the importance of ITB for the tourism industry of Sri Lanka whilst complimenting the eye-catching design of the pavilion. The Minister said that Sri Lanka Tourism has drawn up a strategic plan to develop tourism based on a long-term vision and the UN sustainable development goals.
He invited stakeholders of Sri Lanka Tourism to join hands with the Government to promote Sri Lanka as a destination.
Ambassador Hettiarachchi pointed out the importance of the European market and acknowledged the support Sri Lanka has gained from the international community. Furthermore, he emphasised that ITB Berlin would be beneficial in ironing out issues that affect Sri Lanka’s tourism trade; educating consumers about Sri Lanka as a travel destination; establishing and strengthening bilateral relations with stakeholders and sharing best practices with each other.