By Cheranka Mendis
Sri Lanka Tourism under its monthly theme initiative will launch a number of programmes during the next three months which aims at attracting more foreign tourists to the country.
With expected tourist arrivals of 700, 000 for 2011, Sri Lanka Tourism hopes to achieve a 26 per cent growth per month to achieve the set targets.
According to Acting Managing Director Malraj Kiriella, from March onwards a host of activities will be implemented to take ‘Visit Sri Lanka 2011’ forward. This month two international conferences are set to be held in Sri Lanka starting with the joint meeting of United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific from 24-26 March and another conference on media and tourism later in the month. The 23rd Joint Meeting of the UNWTO will see the presence of representatives and politicians from 24 countries, he said.
The media and tourism conference also to be held this month will see representatives from leading media networks such as the BBC, CNN and Deutsche TV. Kiriella told the Daily FT that as a follow up of the project, an approximate 200 foreign media personnel will be hosted by Sri Lanka in an attempt to promote the country.
“We hope to bring down 22 foreign journalists more or less within the year to promote the diversity of the country. We will take them on a tour around the country, show them the major attractions. We also hope to include a number of trade personnel in these tours as well,” Kiriella said. The initial tours are scheduled for the months of May and August.
Commemorating the Sinhala-Hindu New Year in April, Sri Lanka Tourism has requested all hotels to hold traditional New Year events and games in the presence of tourists. Furthermore three mega events will be organised in the Eastern, Central and the Southern coasts showcasing multi cultural diversity of the country. A crowd of 100-200 is expected to gather at the said places. “Our aim is to highlight the people of the country. Most of the surveys conducted by Sri Lanka Tourism shows that the people, their smiles and the hospitality is what stands out the most. Therefore, it is important for us to use that as a key tool to attract tourism,” Kirella stated.
In May, the country will wrap itself in lights and pandols and while celebrating Vesak will also celebrate the 2600 year Buddha Jayanthi. “For this, a line of Buddhist pilgrim tours and excursions have been organised. Moreover an International Buddhist Film Festival is also set to be staged,” stressed Kiriella.
In July, Sri Lanka will host an ‘Ayurveda Expo 2011,’ a mega exhibition and symposium which would highlight the aspects of yoga, meditation, food and wellness. The exhibition will be open to the public from 15-17 July at the BMICH and will be followed by one to one business meetings to increase the volume of trade and investment on local Ayurveda. A series of workshops and plenary sessions on special topics related to Ayurveda and indigenous medicine addressed by world renowned professionals will also be held under the ‘Symposium on Ayurveda and indigenous medicine.’ The event is to be organised jointly by the National Chamber of Commerce, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board and Sri Lanka Tourism.
Re–emergence of diseases could affect country’s tourism sector
By Shezna Shums
The Epidemiological National Immunisation records show that there is a decreasing trend among Sri Lankans when it comes to getting various types of immunisation vaccinations.
Assistant Epidemiologist, Epidemiological Unit, Dr. Sudath Peiries stated that this is not a good sign when it comes to the wellbeing of the people in general and will have its adverse effects on the development of the country as a whole.
Recalling the time when Sri Lanka announced cases of Influenza HINI, Dr. Peiries said that the Maldivian government had then issued a temporary travel ban so Sri Lanka.
Explaining further those similar announcements of other disease outbreaks may scare possible tourists and even cause some countries to carry travel warnings to the country.
Some of the vaccinations that are seeing a gradual decline of recipients are polio, diphtheria, rubella neo natal tetanus, and hepatitis, Japanese Encephalitis.
Dr. Peiries said that when there are no outbreaks and no signs of illnesses spreading in the country, the people may feel that the disease has ceased and question why they should vaccinate against a disease that is not prevalent or seen at the time.
“Such a no threat environment, see reducing numbers of people receiving the vaccine,” explained Dr. Peiries
However, this behaviour could be an opening of previously curtained diseases to crop up again and cause more people to suffer from these illnesses, which in turn will reflect upon the country and scare prospective visitors.
“This may create a fear psychosis and affect the country’s tourism arrivals and in turn affect the economy as well,” said Dr. Peiries,
According to the Epidemiological Unit, Immunisation vaccinations record shows high rates till recent years, and in some diseases a total eradication. However, the recent few years show a decline in immunisations records. National Immunisation records are taken from the government hospitals.
Vaccinations used by the government are the same bought by the private hospitals, and thus far there is no regulation which looks at how these immunisations are stored at private institutions.
Government hospitals and clinics follow strict storing regulations and dispensing methods.
There can be cases of adverse effects following immunisation ie: when those who have low immune systems or allergies have bad reactions to the vaccinations. This is not a problem with the vaccination per se.
The Epidemiological Unit wants to prevent the re emergence of these diseases creating awareness of the importance of vaccinations.