Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, as the nation’s leading Tourism Agency successfully completed another webinar hosted for Outbound travel agents and tourism stakeholders in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, (KSA) in collaboration with the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka, and the Sri Airlines office in Saudi Arabia, in order to promote its amazing travel opportunities and encourage more Saudi Arabian Travelers plus to boost up tourist arrivals from the Middle East. The webinar was held on the 28 th of September and attracted around 90 tour companies and representatives who are actively involved in the outbound tourism industry operating in several cities including Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah. The main objective of this webinar was to create awareness among the middle eastern tourist and Industry stakeholders and introduce them to Sri Lanka’s diverse world of tourist attractions, adventure activities, exotic wildlife and attractive tour packages.
The Sri Lankan delegation included Mr. P.M Amza , additional secretary , (Economic affairs ) of the foreign ministry , Ms. Madubhani Perera, actng .Managing Director SLTPB ,Mr. Dushan Wickramasuriya , Director Marketing , SLTPB , Mr. Nalaka Amaratunga, Committee Member of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), Ms. Amal Goonatilleke, Chief Executive Officer of the Hotel Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), Mr. Dinesh Pathirana, Member of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET).
On his welcoming remarks, Mr. P.M Amza , additional secretary (Economic Affairs ) of the foreign ministry , briefed about the historical bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and KSA. “Sri Lanka is a place which gives everything that you want whether its culture, nature or adventure whatever the way you enjoy my country” Mr. Amza added.
On the key note presentation, Ms. Madubhani Perera, Acting Managing Director of SLTPB, briefed on Sri Lanka Tourism Strategy/way forward and current health protocols to be followed by the visitors. She outlined the measures which are set in place as well as the future tourism promotional activities to enhance the tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka from KSA.
At his speech, Mr. Dushan Wickramasuriya, Director (Marketing) of SLTPB, briefed on the positive dynamics on the Saudi visitors who have placed Sri Lanka as their best tourist destination appraising the Sri Lankan hospitality, the nature, culture, cuisine and many more. He highlighted that the convenient air connectivity between Sri Lanka and KSA would also attract visitors from the Kingdom as they are eagerly looking forward to travel after the covid pandemic.
Mr. Nalaka Amaratunga, Committee Member of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), Ms. Amal Goonatilleke, Chief Executive Officer of the Hotel Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), defined the steps taken by THASL in order to accommodate the tourists under the new normal. She gave a brief description of types of accommodation available for tourisys from KSA (including locations) and also current health protocols applicable to the hotel sector, so that tourists can be aware of their choice of accommodation.
Mr. Dinesh Pathirana, Member of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET) briefed about the industry readiness on receiving guests from KSA with maximum safely adhering to all health guidelines and giving the best comfort for the visitors. Mr. Amaratunga briefed about the tour operator commitment towards industry to ensure smooth operation of incoming tourists, collaboration with tour guides, transportation and logistics provided under the new normal etc.
Representing the Saudi outbound tour operators, Mr. Hussam Hariri, Head of Holidays and MICE of Arjaa Travels and Tourism KSA, briefed on the air travel options for Saudi tourist to reach Sri Lanka, the target travelers from KSA and visa facilities. Mr. Hariri also informed that they extend their support to facilitate Saudi nationals and other expatriates living in the Kingdom to visit Sri Lanka.
The Webinar took an interesting turn during the Q&A session, as interested travel industry stakeholders and travel agents took their chance of inquiring about the various tour packages, accommodation and various holiday opportunities. Throughout the years, Middle eastern travelers have added their fair share to boost up tourism in Sri Lanka. The webinar gave them an extensive knowledge to consider Sri Lanka as their next tourism destination. The event was made more lively and colorful with exclusive Sri Lanka Tourism videos which gave a clear idea of its uniqueness as an island destination.
Mr. Dulmith Waruna, Chargé d’ Affaires of the Embassy delivered the closing remarks and Mr. Sanjeewa Pattiwila, Minister (Commerce) moderated the event.
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