SL Association of Inbound Tour Operators President Harith Perera addressing the press conference and others from left : CDC Events and Travel Pvt. Managing Director Imran Hassan, Sancharaka Udawa 2018 Chairman Nishad Wijetunga, SL Tourism Promotion Bureau Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam and SL Association of Inbound Tour Operators Past President Nilmin Nanayakkara – Pic by Sameera Wijesinghe
By Shannon Jayawardena
The 2018 edition of Sri Lanka’s premier tourism and travel exhibition ‘Sancharaka Udawa’ is expected to further boost the country’s leisure sector and is scheduled to take place from 4-5 March at the BMICH.
The eighth edition of this event aims to draw over 250 exhibitors and an estimated 10,000 visitors, both local and foreign. The event’s objective is to provide maximum exposure to mainstream tourism while creating a network for SMEs to interact with the tourism industry for greater recognition.
The event is being organised by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and will be featuring several outbound travel agencies who will be offering special holiday packages as opposed to last year.
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Managing Director Suthesh Balasubramanium said: “This endeavour will create a substantial increase in the bookings and sales to the smaller search providers situated in the region and outbound co-operators. Anything and everything in the tourism industry will be exhibited as a product or service from large tourism states to domestic airlines, safari jeep suppliers and so forth.”
The exhibiting space is open to small, medium and large businesses related to tourism in any manner and will culminate with a fellowship event for new entrants into the industry to meet the industry’s veterans. Equally, awards will be given out for Best Stall Creations and Lifetime achievements.
SLAITO President Harith Perera noted that: “The direct contribution of travel and tourism to the World GDP is 3.1% and Sri Lanka is at 5.1%. So we are far ahead in the GDP contribution than that of the world. Through this event we are aiming to attract and involve the SME sector and build a strong and sustainable eco-system around our tourism industry.”
Many new businesses in the industry do not have the resources or knowledge to reach the buyers. Hence, this being the country’s only travel and tourism fair, it will create a platform for interaction and knowledge for all administrators of the tourism industry.
Sancharaka Udawa Chairman Nishad Wijetunga said: “We have come a long way in the last eight years. Sancharaka Udawa will create multiple benefits for the exhibitors such as brand recognition in all marketing material while reassuring the commitment of Sri Lanka’s tourism towards capacity building and uplifting infrastructure and resources of the industry.”
The exhibition will source free of charge stalls for tourism related government departments such as the Department of Wildlife, Central Cultural Fund and the tourist Police to enable the trade and public sector to interact. Likewise there will be stalls allocated for University students to encourage the study of tourism and avail the stage for them to interrelate with trade officials.