By Rashika Fazali
Speaking highly of the tourism industry, Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning Sarath Amunugama stated that 35% of the tourists re-visit Sri Lanka to holiday. He revealed this at the book launch of ‘A lifetime of tourism’, a memoir authored by former Sri Lanka Tourist Board Chairman H.M.S. Samaranayake.
Amunugama also noted that if the tourism industry is to stick to their goal of achieving 50,000 rooms by 2016, then greater things will have to take place. He pointed out that currently, Sri Lanka has around 15,000 rooms.
|Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning Sarath Amunugama (left) accepts the memoir, ‘A lifetime of tourism’, from author and former Sri Lanka Tourist Board Chairman H.M.S. Samaranayake – Pic by Lasantha Kumara
Speaking at the book launch held at the Sri Lanka Tourist Board, he mentioned the recent good news about Sri Lanka being the cheapest value for money for destination, adding: “All the rival destinations competing with Sri Lanka are in trouble. There are only eight to nine countries competing with us. African tourism is coming down very fast. They fail on one thing which is security.” Commenting on Sri Lanka tourism, he noted that tourism has created great success stories. He said, “It has created legends such as Geoffrey Bawa who created remarkable hotels and architecture in the whole region influenced by global architecture.”
He further added, “If you go to the Middle East, most of the hotels are managed by Sri Lanka expatriates. Throughout the world, Sri Lankan workers are spoken about with a lot of respect. It’s the work of the tourist board.” Concluding his speech, he said: “The best publicity for Sri Lanka is tourism.”
As tourism has played a huge role in the country’s development, the author of the book, Samaranayake explained the reason behind writing a book on the history of Sri Lanka tourism and its development.
He said, “Many people do not know how Sri Lanka tourism started and what the tourist board and the hotel school have done.” This book commences from 1966, when the then Ceylon tourist board was established and details how the tourist board has come a long way since then. This book also features information spanning over four decades.
Samaranayake added that he took a quite a long time to write this book – a period of three and a half years.
25,000 copies of ‘A lifetime of tourism’ have been printed and it is now available at Vijitha Yapa bookshops, priced at Rs. 1,100.