Colombo, Jan 24 (NIA) – Sri Lanka made a significant impact at the 37th International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) which was held in Madrid, Spain over the weekend, with Sri Lanka Tourism gaining the attention of the Spanish traveler.
In a statement, the Tourism Ministry said the participation in FITUR augured well for the much-needed exposure for Sri Lanka as an attractive tourism destination for the Spanish speaking countries, contributing in a substantive manner to its overall growth strategy.
Ten leading private sector companies along with Sri Lanka Tourism collectively marketed Sri Lanka based on the common theme of vibrancy, authenticity and compactness as a destination.
The first ever Sri Lanka Tourism brochure in Spanish language was launched by Tourism Minister John Amaratunga at the Sri Lanka stand in order to strengthen the destination marketing efforts among Spanish travellers.
The Minister was presented a copy of the renowned Spanish travel magazine “Excelencias” which carried a six-page supplement on Sri Lanka, by its Editor Veronica Santiago during the opening ceremony of the Fair.
Speaking at the event Amaratunga emphasised that participation in FITUR 2017 was a vital decision taken by Sri Lanka Tourism ably assisted by Sri Lanka’s Embassy in Paris.
He remarked that it would no doubt help to re-position Sri Lanka in Spain as a strategic hub for the Latin American region and emphasized that it was a strategic decision to make a comeback at the travel fair after almost a decade. He also spoke of the conducive environment prevailing in Sri Lanka for the Spanish market.
The Minister also held discussions with the Spanish Travel Agents Association (CEAV) in order to explore the feasibility of holding the “Spanish Travel Agents Association Congress” 2018 in Sri Lanka following the success of the French Travel Agents Congress in 2016.
During discussions with the President and Committee Members of CEAV, this proposal was given positive consideration and agreement was reached in principle to send a fact finding mission to Sri Lanka in May 2017, the Tourism Ministry said.
Sri Lanka was also invited to attend the Meeting of Heads of the World Travel Agents to be convened in Valencia later this year.
Amaratunga also held discussions with Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO and Director Regional Programme for Asia Pacific and his team on the side-lines of the travel fair.
Dr. Rifai, was invited by Amaratunga to attend the PATA Conference scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka later this year.
The UNWTO Chief also agreed to facilitate the formulation of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Master Plan and assist in sustainable tourism development in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the country.
Minister Amaratunga also met the Chairperson of UNWTO ST-EP Foundation, Dho Young-Shim which is the pioneering foundation in UNWTO for alleviating poverty, in order to discuss obtaining assistance for tourism development in the context of poverty alleviation.
This foundation will soon be transformed as ST-EP International elevating its stature, and Chairperson Dho Young-Shim invited Sri Lanka to be a signatory to this agreement which would also facilitate the country’s objective of alleviating poverty through tourism. This event will take place in March or September during the UNWTO General Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Ceylon Tea counter at the Sri Lanka Pavilion attracted a large number of visitors and there were many inquiries for promoting the Ceylon Tea brand and the Ceylon Cinnamon brand in Spain, the Tourism Ministry said.