The government of Sri Lanka (SL) is keen on promoting tourism and projecting Sri Lanka as preferred and safe destination for Indian tourists. After Easter Sunday attack on the 21 April,2019, the security situation has come back to normal now. As confidence building measure and showcase the beauty of the country, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) invited Indian media delegation to Sri Lanka. Nine leading journalists from Mumbai were part of media delegation. The main aim for organising this tour was to asses first hand status on safety and security of tourists; experience their hospitality, exploring various tourist destinations.
The tour was aimed to communicate journalist’s personal experiences to Indian tourists. The tour was organised by Consul General (CG) of Sri Lanka in Mumbai, Her Excellency Chamari Rodrigo in association with Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB).
I was part of Sri Lanka tour along with other media professionals. I must say that journey to Sri Lanka was awesome and it was beyond our expectations. There is so much to see and visit with different destinations to choose from. Sri Lanka is closest country to India just two hours flight from Mumbai, three hours flight from Delhi and one and half hour flight from Chennai.
I felt safe and heavenly feelings, feel like going back again to Sri Lanka. The media group from Mumbai consisted of journalists from Mumbai Messenger Newspaper, The Times of India, The Indian Express, Lonely Planet India, Loksatta Newspaper, Sakal Newspapers, National Geographic Traveller India, Lokmat Media Group and Maharashtra Times Online.
Soon after arriving at Colombo, media delegation met the Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga at the Ministry of Tourism. The discussions were held with the Minister and gathered important information regarding the security situation and new projects implemented to encourage more tourist arrivals.
It is worth mentioning here that Sri Lanka is safe country for tourists. Indian tourists should visit Sri Lanka and have real time experience of various tourists’ destinations. Entire Island nation is full of life. One can see all important buildings, hotels and other prominent institutions with enhanced security cover with Navy, Air force and local police guarding them.
The media tour visited many important tourist destinations that included places such as Colombo, Bentota, the Lunuganga Estate and the city of Galle. Visits to the Udawalawe National Park, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy and The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic were also key sites on the tour. The media group also travelled by scenic train from Ella to Nanu Oya.
John Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs speaking to media delegation said “Sri Lanka is safest place for all the tourists. We have best of the places to offer to Indian tourists. You should experience the various destinations and share your real time experience to Indian tourists. We are contemplating to provide free visa to tourists so they get a better opportunity to visit SL. We are close to India and have numerous direct flights of Sri Lankan airlines from various prominent cities of India”.
At a meeting with this correspondent at Indian High Commission in Colombo, His Excellency Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Indian High commissioner to Sri Lanka said “Honourable Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is the first International leader to visit Sri Lanka after the terror attack to show solidarity with the Island nation. He visited affected places and interacted with various people. His arrival to Sri Lanka itself is a clear indication that Sri Lanka is a safe place for tourists. There are so many destinations for Indian tourists to explore. So they should come and experience this beautiful country with vivid tourist attractions”.
Pankaj Sampat, Area Director Taj Group of Hotels in Sri Lanka said “Sri Lanka is indeed a safe place and have lot of things for Indian tourists to offer. There are breath-taking tourist destinations and best hotels of the world class. Taj Hotel is oldest Indian hotel in Sri Lanka which is known for its best hospitality. The Taj group has three hotels in Sri Lanka namely Taj Samudra, Taj Bentota Resorts and Taj Airport Garden Hotel. We are here to cater to all kinds of events that include Indian weddings in our hotels. We are also known for serving authentic Indian cuisine in Taj Samudra’s Navratna Indian restaurant and authentic Chinese cuisine at our world famous Golden Dragon restaurant. So you must visit Sri Lanka and enjoy various tourist places and Indian hospitality at Taj Hotels”.
Her Excellency Chamari Rodrigo, The Consul General of Sri Lanka in Mumbai said “Seeing is believing. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country for exploring tourism, rich in glory and attractive points. It is wrapped with different tourist spots, destinations, and beautiful attractions all over. Now, you have experienced Sri Lanka tour, I am sure you must have liked it”.
Undoubtedly, Sri Lanka is also known as “Pearl of Indian Ocean’’ and I look forward to visit again with my friends and family.