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Sri Lanka to attract 2.5 million tourists

Anwar Ahmad / 2 March 2012

ABU DHABI —The Sri Lankan government has been taking new measures to attract a projected 2.5 million tourists from across the world and some 200,000 from the Middle East to Sri Lanka· by 2016 and generate an income of· $2.75 billion in the same period.

This was stated by Anura Lokuhetty, president of the Sri Lanka Tourism Association at the Sri Lankan embassy in Abu Dhabi recently while detailing about the current measures of their government to promote tourism and investment to their country.

Sri Lanka also targeted to invite the foreign direct investment (FDI) of $2.75 billion in the upcoming five years.

The tourist target of 2010 was set at 500,000 visitors from across the world but it attracted 650,000. On the same lines, we hope to attract more and more tourists to our country by 2016, Lokuhetty said.

Whereas the ME is concerned, about 57,501 people visited Sri Lankan in 2011 but this year the number is expected to reach up to 65,000 and 80,000 in 2013 and 200,000 by 2016, Lokuhetty stated.

In order to fulfil the hotel accommodation requirements in the coming five years, some 25,000 hotel rooms are required by 2016, in which 9,000 rooms were already achieved. This will also open up avenues for investors, too.

At the same time, Alavi Mowlana, Governor of Western Province of Sri Lanka who arrived from Sri Lanka to the UAE, opened the first Nenasala Overseas (computer training centre) along with Dr B.R. Shetty, chairman of NMC group and managing director of Express Mony, which sponsored the Nenasala.

The computer training centre imparts free coaching to the Sri Lankan community people at the embassy’s premises.

The centre comprised of six computer terminals, which are equipped with all kind of programmes and facilities to educate them about the computing, UAE culture, laws as well as their rights.

Training will be provided to new comers to the UAE, existing community people and those who are interested to learn computing from other different communities as well.

Mowlana said this is unique concept initiated by the Sri Lankan government to train expats living abroad. On tourism, Mowlana said, since past 30 years we have been fighting to take on the terror activities in our country, which now had been wiped out by our President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Now, our country is the safest heaven for tourists and posses plenty of unique attractions in culture, traditional medicines, wild life and marine, Mowlana said.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UAE, Sarath Wijesinghe said, over 300,000 Sri Lankan expatriates are a part of the progress and the development of this beautiful and accommodative host country.  They contribute immensely for the economy and development of the host country as well as the motherland. 

Despite passing through most difficult periods, Sri Lanka is fortunate to sail towards development, amity, progress and prosperity through reconciliation, reconstruction and development, the envoy said. 

“The UAE is a unique model of integration.  The oil money is well invested with a vision for the future, the nation is developing, the non oil economy is setting an example to the rest of the world.  UAE is in the forefront in renewable energy having pioneered in setting up of International Renewable Energy Agency or IRENA, the ambassador stated.

Both the UAE and Sri Lanka has reached the peak in tourism.  There is a large influx of tourists to Sri Lanka and the tourists from Middle East are increasing day by day. 

Investment from UAE to Sri Lanka and the business between the two friendly countries is growing day by day.  We are now reaping the benefits of peace, Wijesinghe said. 


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