Iran proposes air link with Colombo to attract tourists from there

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Daily direct flights between Sri Lanka and Iran are necessary for promoting tourism to ensure that Sri Lanka receives a significant number of Iranian tourists, Dr. Abdolreza Farajirad, Director General of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, who is in Sri Lanka on the invitation of Pathfinder Foundation said yesterday.

"Each year around nine million Iranian tourists visit other countries. Right now they mostly go to Turkey and the EU thought Sri Lanka is only five hours away and has the potential to attract a lot of them," he said.

Dr. Farajirad added that Iranians were particularly interested in Nature and that they spend heavily on souvenirs. "After sanctions against Iran were lifted foreign travel by Iranians have increased and a significant number of them travel three to four times a year. We should try to attract them here."

Iran also has a fast developing automobile industry, the 18th largest automaker in the world and one of the largest in Asia and it has factories in a number of countries including Iraq, Syria, Belarus and Venezuela.

"We can also look at starting a car factory in Sriā€ˆLanka, where we can give you the parts and you can assemble the vehicles. This will reduce the prices of vehicles in Sri Lanka and create many jobs."

Dr. Farajirad said that Sri Lanka and Iran had been longstanding friends and their friendship and cooperation will remain whoever comes to power.

The Director General of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations is in Sri Lanka to address a conference on Iran and the Indian Ocean in the 21st century organised by the Pathfinder Foundation.

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