- Stresses need for comprehensive approach from all parties
Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga held a discussion with the Kandy Hoteliers Association – a representative body of hotel owners and operators in Kandy – to discuss ways in which the industry can be strengthened in the area.
The meeting, held at the Minister’s office in Colombo, was significant as the tourism industry in Kandy – a top tourist destination in Sri Lanka – was impacted by the recent violent incidents in the Kandy district. The minister and the hotel operators discussed at length the measures through which the tourism industry in the area can be strengthened despite the damage caused by some isolated incidents of violence.
The Minister said a comprehensive approach was needed from all parties to further strengthen the tourism industry in Kandy and to make the tourists aware of the importance of visiting the hill capital of Sri Lanka. He also thanked hotel operators in the district for seamlessly supporting the industry by ensuring safety of tourists.
The Minister particularly commended some hotel operators who allowed tourists to stay in their hotels free of charge until the violence ceased. He also added that the hospitality industry stakeholders were instrumental in mitigating the damage the Kandy incident caused to the tourism industry-at large. “Such gestures,” he said, “go a long way in shaping the global image of Sri Lanka.”
Sharing their viewpoints, the association urged the tourism authorities to hold more promotional activities in Kandy to attract more tourists to the hill capital. The Minister and the tourism authorities present at the meeting agreed with this request and said they would take speedy action. As part of this programme, they said, the diplomatic community in Sri Lanka should also be made aware of the importance of Kandy and its current situation.
Another point they stressed was to improve connectivity between Kandy and other parts of the country. They also urged to expedite the construction of the internal airport in Digana and the central expressway – two main projects involving the Kandy district.
The Minister, in his response, said he would take up the matter with transport authority and discuss speedy implementation of the two projects. He also pointed out the importance of strengthening areas such as ‘Adventure Tourism’ and assured that he would work with tourism institutions to offer necessary support from the Government.