Tourism expected to bounce back in big way
Coming winter expected to be a boon

Tourism Ministry Secretary George Michael says a revival of the tourism industry is expected soon as the war is over. Its comeback will make it the second highest forex earner in the country, he says.

"Our target is to reach 1.5 million tourist arrivals by 2010 and already a promotional campaign titled "Small Miracle" has been launched to attract visitors from different parts of the world," he told a press conference on Friday.

Indications were that the coming winter would prove to be a boon for Sri Lanka’s tourism with many tourists coming here, he said adding that he expected a record number of arrivals. Already a large number of leading foreign investors of the industry had made inquiries and expressed willingness to invest here, he said.

A sum of Rs. 700 million had been allocated to the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau for the promotional activities, he said.

"We have plans to promote tourism in both North and East. A lot of ground work will have to be done in these areas which had been abandoned for almost three decades," he noted.

Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism and former Ambassador Bernard Goonatillake said the investor confidence had shot up with the elimination of terrorism. He said that the initial rounds of projects planned for areas such as Passekudah, Kalpitiya and Dedduwa had already kicked off.

"The message has to be disseminated that Sri Lanka is a safe place to visit and we will be holding one to one meetings with all heads of diplomatic missions here to explain our plans," Goonatillake said.

Responding to a query about adverse travel advisories issued by different countries which were detrimental to local tourism industry, Goonatillake said in the present scenario foreign governments would change their position. "There will be no more adverse travel advisories they would be fully convinced that the country is a safe place for tourists," he said.

"Most airlines that are not flying to Colombo will now change their minds. Already low cost carrier Air Asia and Oman Air decided to fly to Sri Lanka and many other airlines will follow suit," said Dilip Mudadeniya, Managing Director Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau.

British Airways had resumed flights to Male and there was a possibility of the airline considering operating flights to Colombo as well, he pointed out.

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