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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2679

Sri Lanka Tourism signs landmark MOU with Gujarat Government to promote tourism

Ahmadabad, 16 January, ( Sri Lanka participated at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit at Ahmadabad this week (12 to 13 January 2009) and was warmly received by the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Minister of Tourism Milinda Moragoda at the just concluded Vibrant Gujarat 2009" Summit at  the Gujarat Science City in Ahmadabad, Minister of Tourism Milinda Moragoda at the just concluded Vibrant Gujarat 2009" Summit at the Gujarat Science City in Ahmadabad,

The Sri Lanka delegation headed by Minister of Tourism Milinda Moragoda was welcomed by the Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi, who is the chief architect of the Vibrant Gujarat event and Minister Moragoda was invited to address the forum on three different occasions during the two day event.

The Investors’ Forum brought a large number of investors, both local and foreign, who showed interest in investments ranging from oil, gas, port projects and power generation to manufacture of widely acclaimed TATA’s Nano car, in the state of Gujarat. Forty five countries in total sent more than 600 delegates for the forum, among them were the Prime Minister of Kenya, Vice President of Uganda, senior members of cabinet and parliament from Malaysia, Singapore the United Kingdom, Canada etc.

Sri Lankan Tourism kicked off its promotional campaign in Ahmadabad with a dinner attended by over one hundred local travel agents, who received a rare treat of the Sri Lankan version of Ramayana dance performance presented by Aru Sri Art Theatre headed by Kalasuri Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan courtesy of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, which was well received by the audience.

The inauguration of the Investors’ Summit on the Monday January 12 was attended by an audience of over four thousand five hundred both local and foreign, where Minister Moragoda spoke on the role of tourism bringing people of different cultures together. Later in the afternoon, he addressed the Convention on Tourism during which a Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism providing for cooperation on tourism related fields between the State of Gujarat and Sri Lanka was signed and exchanged before Chief Minister Modi and Minister Moragoda.

Addressing a press briefing to highlight Sri Lanka Tourism on Tuesday afternoon, minister Moragoda explained to the media arrangements being made to attract Indian tourists to Sri Lanka. The briefing venue at Le Meridian Ahmadabad was packed to capacity indicating the interest of the media on what Sri Lanka has to offer the Indian tourists, be they young adventure seekers, MICE travelers or discerning high end tourists, who want nothing but the very best the island has to offer.

Minister Moragoda explained to the media Sri Lanka’s strategy to develop the Indian market and the interest of Chief Minister Modi in developing Buddhist sites in the State of Gujarat, promoting Buddhist studies and his desire to convene an international conference on Buddhism in his fast developing state.

During the press briefing, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and Tourism Promotion Bureau Bernard Goonetilleke spoke of facilities Sri Lanka can offer to Indian tourists and Chairman Sri Lanka Convention Bureau Prema Cooray highlighted exciting possibilities for MICE travelers from the corporate sector in India. Meanwhile, Director General of Tourism Development Authority, made a presentation on the Ramayana Trail, pointing out that there are more than fifty locations in Sri Lanka identified with the legend. That presentation generated a lively discussion on the subject.

With a coastline of around 1600 km, Gujarat is keenly interested in developing coastal tourism and naturally expects Sri Lankan expertise as well as investment to develop resorts in Gujarat. The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the State of Gujarat and Sri Lanka provides for cooperation in the field of tourism, including investment in the hospitality industry and Gujarat expects Sri Lankan industry leaders to have a close look at the potential available in Gujarat.

Minister Moragoda had the opportunity to discuss these possibilities as well as extending Sri Lanka’s cooperation in developing Buddhist sites in Gujarat during the meeting he had with Chief Minister Modi on January 13, at which Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner to India Palitha Ganegoda was present.

At the concluding ceremony held on January 13, brimming with confidence Chief Minister Modi announced that the two day event brought an eye popping US$241 billion worth of investment to the State of Gujarat, at a time when other parts of the world are heading toward a recession due to the global financial crisis. Chief Minister added that the previous three Investment Forums brought a total of $180 billion of investment to his state as against the dazzling performance this year and said that as a result of the 2009 Forum, 2.5 million new jobs would be created, pushing Gujarat to be the most developed state in India. Already Gujarat has become the home for the world’s largest oil refinery following the inauguration of the new facility at Jamnagar in March 2009.

Sunday Times of India of January 11 gave high visibility to Sri Lanka Tourism with a front page story with the caption "Beach to Buddha, Nirvana from Sri Lanka". Sri Lanka Tourism is due to receive a big boost due to the high publicity to its products ranging from Ramayana Trail, MICE travel and exciting tourist destinations including beach resorts, wild life parks, heritage sites, adventure tours etc. To boost Sri Lanka Tourism in India, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) has appointed a destination management agent in India, which has planned a massive promotional drive during 2009. SLTPB and has also held discussions with the national carrier SriLankan Airline for special packages to attract more Indian tourists to the island.

- Asian Tribune –

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