Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake on Tuesday stressed the importance of having direct airlinks between countries.
Addressing a delegation of senior officers of the Royal Thai Airforce he said that direct air links between Sri Lanka and Thailand had helped tremendously to improve trade ties between the two countries.
`In an era where the world is developing rapidly in every sphere, Sri Lanka cannot afford to work in isolation. We need to cooperate with other countries. The government has launched a well planned programme in this regard,` he said.
The objective of the exercise was to establish diplomatic ties with all countries, irrespective of their size and thereafter gradually establish direct air links with them to facilitate closer ties between the people of Sri Lanka and others and boost the tourist industry, he said.
`We need to improve the quality of our tourism to a higher level and endeavour to attract up market tourists to Sri Lanka`, he said.
Niche products such as Ayurvedha, Handicrafts, Eco tourism, Adventure tourism, Sports tourism etc. would have a big demand, Wickramanayake said.
He paid a tribute to the Thai kingdom and its people for its contribution in numerous ways to Sri Lanka at different stages and said that it was the Kingdom of Siam, as it was then known, which reintroduced Upasampada (Higher Ordination) to Sri Lanka at a time the Buddhist religious order had declined.
He said a museum had been established in Pallekele in Kandy and all the objects used by the late Thai Monk Ven. Upali, who came all the way to Sri Lanka to help establish Upasampada had been preserved in that museum and all Sri Lankans were indebted to the Thai people for that gesture.
The Royal Thai Airforce delegation was in Sri Lanka in connection with the religious ceremonies organised to coincide with the birthday of Ven Pelpola Vipassi.
The delegation visited the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, Sigiriya, the Dambulla temple, the Anuradhapura holy city, Aukana Buddha statue and Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya.