Based on an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, the city of Colombo will be lit up during the festive season. The illuminations will be at a peak from 19 to 25 December.
The areas that will be illuminated are the roundabouts, main roads and the main shopping areas in the city. In addition, shops, shopping malls and hotels will light up their establishments on their own accord.
The corporate sector will carry out the illumination of the city by undertaking to illuminate the roads and roundabouts where their respective offices are located. All costs related to this exercise will be borne by the corporate sector.
Meanwhile the Ministry is drawing up plans to transform the city of Colombo into a festive hub by unveiling a week-long calendar of events that will attract thousands of both foreign and local visitors to the city. Among the many items planned are a party hosted by the Prime Minister for underprivileged children at Temple Trees, a state Christmas Event in Jaffna and a Tourism Fest at the Independence Arcade. The corporate sector will spearhead almost all of these events with the Ministry of Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs playing the role of facilitator.
The Minister of Tourism John Amaratunga is keen to make this festive season a memorable one for the record number of visitors expected in the city this year. “After many years, the country is enjoying true freedom. This is the first festive season under the new government. I have been informed that many Sri Lankans domiciled abroad plan to take advantage of this and visit the country after many years. We want to make this a memorable visit for them and the thousands of tourists who will be travelling to the country,” said Minister Amaratunga.
The main state sponsored event for the season will be held on 20 December in Jaffna. The President is expected to participate at this event. The decision to conduct the main state event in Jaffna this year is to foster reconciliation and bring about a new beginning under the new administration.
The Prime Minister will host 700 underprivileged children from all over the country at a special event at Temple Trees on 17 December. All 700 children will be presented with gifts at this occasion.
The main festive events will be focused around the Independence Arcade in Colombo where a seasonal extravaganza – ‘Tourism Fest with the spirit of Christmas 2015’ – is billed to take place from 19 to 23 December. The main events that will take place during the five day program include daily musical shows featuring popular bands, artistes and orchestras, food festival showcasing local culinary talent, tea, gem, jewellery, handicrafts and wildlife exhibitions, cultural shows, Christmas carols, fireworks display etc.
There will be much entertainment for children as well. The biggest hotel and restaurant names will feature in a hawker street style dining extravaganza where food and beverage will be made available at concessionary prices.
A novel feature will be ‘Carols On Wheels’ where the Colombo City Tour double-decker bus will operate a shuttle service between the leading five-star hotels and the Arcade with live carols on board each evening.
December is the peak tourist season in Sri Lanka. It is the month that traditionally records the highest number of tourist arrivals to the country. This year the Ministry of Tourism Development is expecting a record number of visitors, including Sri Lankan expatriates visiting family and friends here for the first time in many years. The Ministry expects to achieve its target of two million visitors by 31 December, up from the 1.5 million visitors last year.
The Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Affairs requests all establishments in Colombo to light up their buildings and premises during the festive season.