The Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) together with its One Industry One Voice partners yesterday said they welcomed and were elated about the reopening of Sri Lanka for international tourists.
“The much-awaited important guidelines being finalised and accepted is a great move to help our industry. We are confident that the new normal bio bubble tourism could be marketed via the foreign tour operators to revive the industry,” they said in a statement by One Industry One Voice Coordinator and SLAITO Immediate Past President Mahen Kariyawasam. It was pointed out marketing and restarting tourism with this new concept would be no easy task as unfortunately the country had no forward promotional plan from Sri Lanka Tourism as yet.
“Nevertheless with the new guidelines, although there can be a few teething issues, we are confident that our members and foreign tour operators will do their best to promote Sri Lanka and it is crucial that the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau supports them on the way forward as one industry and one voice in tourism,” the statement added.
With the current surge of COVID in major tourism generating markets SLAITO and its partners do not see a big influx of tourists at the start but anticipate greater volume from summer onwards, especially with fast rollout of vaccination programs.
“We will work very closely with the Ministry of Health, the COVID Task Force and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority keeping in mind the health of the nation as a priority while we move in the ‘new normal’ post-COVID d tourism. This will also help to revive our industry of three million direct and in direct persons and bring in the much needed foreign exchange to the economy,” the statement said.
Following are comments from One Industry One Voice members:
Board of Airline Representatives (BAR) President Dimuthu Tennakoon: “We are delighted to invite tourists from across the world into Sri Lanka from 21 January. All airlines are ready to welcome passengers onboard with timely connections and attractive offers, while ensuring safe travel thought the journey in accordance with international best practices and safety guidelines. After many challenging months all airlines are looking forward for the opening to resume operations and provide the best experience the tourists.”
Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL) President Channa Wijemanna: “The opening of the airports for tourism is a positive step and this would immensely encourage the outbound travellers and also would boost the out bound travel agents in Sri Lanka. Further we are having discussions regarding the quarantine procedures for such travellers. Wish it will be a success.”
Skal International Colombo President Bernard Wijetunga: “We are delighted that constructive steps are in place to restart tourism in Sri Lanka. We are hopeful that this initial step re-opening the airport today will pave the way for our country to regain its position as a prime tourism destination in the world.”
Association of Small & Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET) Director Rohan Abeywickreme: We being in the tourism SME sector representatives of the grass root level to middle scale investors are happy to hear about the opening of the airports for international travellers will boost the morale of the people and would like to thank the health authorities and the Minister of Tourism for this initiative.”
Sri Lanka Association of Airline Representatives (SLAAR) Chairperson Thanuja Lankathilake: “Our warmest congratulations on the re-opening of the Bandaranaike International Airport. Best wishes! Let’s us be optimistic and hope this is the beginning of better days Ahead.”
Sri Lanka Wellness Tourism Association President Trevor Reckerman: “We welcome the airport opening to traffic as it will be a critical initial step in bringing tourism back on track. Wellness will become an important beneficiary.”
Colombo City Restaurant Collective (CCRC) President Harpo Gooneratne: “Sri Lanka opening the airport for international visitors, while maintaining strict health guidelines, will see a resumption of the well-needed tourist business to the restaurant and hospitality industry in particular. The members of the Colombo City Restaurant Collective look forward to welcoming all to the island to enjoy true Sri Lankan hospitality.”
Pacific Asia travel Association (PATA) Sri Lanka Chapter President Asitha Panabooke: “The membership of PATA Sri Lanka looks forward to a revival in the industry as the sector has been one of the most affected by the current crisis. We hope that we are on the threshold of a renaissance which will result in Sri Lanka regaining its position as one of the most sought after destinations in the world.”
Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition and Event Organisations (SLAPCEO) President Nalin Ariyaratne: “We are delighted with the airport opening and hope for more MICE, Events (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions and Weddings) in the near future.”