Thai monks pose for a group photograph with the Minister
Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs meeting a senior official of the Thai government
Sri Lanka has seen a positive increase in the number of tourist arrivals from Thailand, as a result of the initiative taken by Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga to develop the untapped Thai outbound market.
A delegation led by Minister Amaratunga, accompanied by Senior Advisor to the Minister Felix Rodrigo and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Assistant Director Jeevana Fernando visited Thailand as the first initiative to showcase Sri Lanka at the Thai International Travel Fair, and subsequently on a separate exercise along with the Sri Lanka Embassy in Thailand, supported by SLTPB in organising an event called THAIFEX World of Food Asia, which was held from 28 May to 1 June, combining a consumer promotion, food tasting and export products by the exporters registered with Export Development Board. 15 destination management companies from Sri Lanka participated at this event, which was highly successful. Thailand has proven itself to be a very crucial market for Sri Lanka, sharing similarities between culture, heritage and religion of the two nations. Former ambassador for Sri Lanka in Bangkok Kshenuka Seneviratne also participated at this event.
On this mission, the next strategy of the Minister was to meet the high profile Buddhist monks within Thailand who control the entire Thai population, where 93% of the citizens are Buddhists. During the visit, the ministerial delegation also had a detailed discussion with the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand to identify measures taken by Thailand during crisis situations, which could be applied to Sri Lanka, respecting the directions given by the Governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to execute more PR campaigns as recovery measures. The Minister invited the Governor to visit Sri Lanka with a delegation of travel agents, media and also Buddhist monks.
After accepting the invitation of the Minister, the Deputy Governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) responded by visiting Sri Lanka with 38 travel agents, 20 media on a three-day familiarisation tour hosted by SLTPB and also 45 Buddhist monks visiting Sri Lanka on the five-day pilgrimage alongside with a FAM tour, from 27 June to 1 July.
During their stay in Sri Lanka the group of Buddhist monks had an exclusive opportunity to meet President Maithripala Sirisena and further develop the religious and cultural ties between the two nations.
A memorandum of Understanding on tourism cooperation between Sri Lanka and Thailand was signed on 27 June, as a result of the Minister’s visit. The MOU signing was followed by a series of events such as a media briefing for Thai media, business to business meetings between Sri Lanka and Thai travel industry, media briefing for Sri Lankan media and a dinner reception which took place at the Hilton Colombo.