- Sri Lanka has already registered five lakh tourists for the current year and hopes to end the year with 10 lakh tourists
- Indians will get better value for money visiting Sri Lanka than Indian destinations right now. Sri Lanka has a lot more to offer
Tourism Minister Harin Fernando, who was in Ahmedabad to promote tourism in the island nation, said that as things returned to normal after the recent political crisis in the island nation, the government aims to receive at least 10 lakh tourists this year, mostly from India, Indian media reported yesterday.
Fernando, said religious and cultural tourism between Sri Lanka and India “will make a lot of sense”.
“There are a lot of commonalities that we can find with India, and we think next year will be mostly about India,” Fernando told reporters.
Sri Lanka has already registered five lakh tourists for the current year and hopes to end the year with 10 lakh tourists, mostly from India, the minister said.
He further said that 2018 was the best for the country when around 23,000 tourists visited and generated $4-5 billion in revenue for the country, he said.
“We have $900 million from the tourism sector (so far this year) and hope that by the end of the year we will reach around $2 billion,” Fernando said.
The country hopes to end this year with one million tourists and next year with 15 to 20 million tourists, he said.
“So far (this year) we have had 75,000 Indian tourists in Sri Lanka, followed by the UK (65,000). The first two or three months were good, then we had a very lackluster period between April and June (due to political unrest),” the minister said.
Things have started to improve again and currently the country receives nearly 2,000 tourists a day (compared to a peak of 7,000 a day), he said.
“Sri Lanka, some would say, is a kind of India, we are a part of India… We are the pearl of the Indian Ocean, the value of Sri Lanka would be for the Indians and we have to sort this out with the Indians,” Fernando said.
The island country is trying to work with a few ashrams in India to promote such tourism, he added.
“We are trying to bring a large crowd of about 2,000 pilgrims to Jaffna airport at a time, and from there by road. We seek to explore these new avenues. We also have lots of wellness, yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic medicine. There are many values that India and Sri Lanka share,” the minister said. Sri Lanka considers India as its big brother who has always supported it.
“We thank the Narendra Modi government, especially at this stage when Sri Lanka has been going through difficult times over the past two months,” the minister said.
In terms of currency, Sri Lanka also offers better value for money, with one Indian rupee equaling four Sri Lankan rupees, he said.