The Arabian travel market (ATM) is the largest annual professional and official exhibition for the Tourism market in Middle East which provides global exposure and business & travel opportunities for the tourism sector. The Arabian market is important for Sri Lanka as it brings a large number of tourists annually and revenue to boost up the country’s economic sector.
Head Table (Left to Right) – Bandula Ekanayake (THASL), Charitha Yattogoda (Consul General Dubai & Northern Emirates), Kishu Gomes (Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism), Dushan Wickramasuriya (Director PR, Sri Lanka Tourism, Nalin Jayasuriya (SLAITO), Vipula Gunatileke (CEO, Sri Lankan Airlines)
The Press Conference of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) at ATM 2019 Dubai was a well-attended event with the participation of over 50 media personnel representing the leading global and regional media organizations. This was in addition to many electronic and print media interviews done on one-on-one basis at the Sri Lanka pavilion which includes CNN, Euro news, Kahaleej Times. There were other interviews done in the studios of media houses including Dubai Eye.
Almost one week after the horrendous terrorist attack in Sri Lanka, the ATM media platform was a great opportunity to enlighten foreign media on the current situation in Sri Lanka and efforts that are being taken by the Tourism Ministry and the industry in lieu of safety and security of tourists.
The head- table panel at the press conference consisted of the Consul General of Sri Lanka for Dubai & Northern Emirates, Charitha Yattogoda, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism, Kishu Gomes, CEO, Sri Lankan Airlines, Vipula Gunatilleke, Director-Public Relations, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Dushan Wickramasuriya.
The Tourism industry was represented by Past President, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), Nalin Jayasundara, Executive Committee member, The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), Bandula Ekanayake.
The press conference started with all media observing two minutes silence in honor of the innocent victims of the terror attack. Chairman, Kishu Gomes expressed his deepest sympathies and condolences to all the victims and their families, while wishing a speedy recovery to all those injured and currently receiving treatment. Speaking at the press conference Chairman gave a detail update on the current situation, impact on the tourists and actions taken by the government to support all tourists affected by the incident. He further highlighted the confidence placed by the military to bring the situation under control and clear doubt on the security and ability to provide necessary security support to the industry. Learning from other countries who were affected by terrorism and other natural disasters were highlighted. He continued by saying that Sri Lanka Tourism has not stopped any promotional activities and will continue with all planned activities for 2019 as Sri Lanka Tourism will not leave any room for terrorist to beat us. The current issue is only safety related and the tourism value proposition remains unchanged, which has been enjoyed by millions of tourists from across the world. With safe environment being restored in the immediate future, Sri Lanka Tourism is confident that global travelers will relook at Sri Lanka for protentional travel.
The video which was launch at ITB to showcase Sri Lank through the eyes of the animals which evoke the essence of the new branding – ‘So Sri Lanka’ was played at the press conference to refresh minds of all present on the unmatchable tourism products and portfolios offered by Sri Lanka. Chairman further made a request for the global media and other stakeholders to stand with Sri Lanka Tourism in its efforts to beat the global tourism. He further re-iterated, unless the entire country comes together and defend the whole world from terrorist, there will be more attacks in time to come –“it was Sri Lanka this time and next time it can be your country”. Let us unite and work against global terrorism under which tourism industry can thrive for all tourism destinations to benefit from!
Speaking at the Press Conference, the Consul General of Sri Lanka to Dubai and Northern Emirates, Charitha Yattogoda, conveyed the appreciation and the gratitude of the Government of Sri Lanka to the Government of United Arab Emirates, particularly H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and the Ruler of Emirate of Dubai for the solidarity shown by conveying condolences as well as lighting up Sri Lanka's national flag on Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper, and other prominent Landmarks in Dubai.
Additionally in his closing remarks, he said that it is evident that the attack of 21st of April on Sri Lanka is an internationally motivated terrorist act similar to some of the attacks carried out in the past on some other tourist destinations and it is not considered as a homegrown terrorism act of recurrent nature. He further said that Sri Lanka is one of the very few countries in the world that were able to defeat terrorism completely, enabling everyone to enjoy absolute peace in the country for a period of almost 10 years in the past, if not the only country that was able to do so. Hence it is proven our security forces are capable of containing the situation in full.
Given the current circumstance, the head-table was presented with many important questions which were addressed by the head-table to the satisfaction of the audience.
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