to show Lanka is united: PATA chairman
By Roy Silva
Sri Lanka needs tourism to show the world how
friendly our people are. How much we do to build our
nation and get our people together, said Hiran
Cooray, Chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel
Association (PATA) on Thursday.
“Wherever I go, especially as the Chairman of PATA,
it worries me when people ask about the stability
and whether our people are united? Yes, we are
united. One way of showing the world that our people
are united is through tourism,” said the PATA chief
addressing the 23rd Joint Meeting of the UNWTO
Commission for South Asia and NWTO Commission for
East Asia and the Pacific and the UNWTO Conference
‘Mainstreaming Tourism’ in the Media, at Hilton on
“We need the help of the people, the stakeholders in
the industry and the media to show that Sri Lanka is
a united land,” said Hiran.
Commenting on the tourism potential in Sri Lanka he
said that the ministry was very focussed in
developing the North and the East in addition to the
responsibilities of developing the entire nation.
Hiran said that he had seen the progress taking
place in the east with roads being developed with
the assistance of foreign donors and invited those
who had not seen it to go there and see for
themselves how beautiful Lanka’s beaches were.
“And not only the beaches, our wildlife in the sea
as well as the land. Not many people believe that we
have over 3,000 elephants in the wilds in a small
island like ours. We also have the Blue Whale and
the Sperm Whale,” said the PATA chief.
He said that the industry was blossoming out. It had
been kept under wraps for the last 25 years.
“Lankans could not invest in properties or in new
products. Now those in the industry as well as
others were coming out to invest. There were many
foreign investors too coming here looking at land
and investments,” added Hiran.
The PATA chief also observed that tourism took a
little while, as the industry was already aware,
that a tourist hotel could not come up in just six
months or even two years for that matter.
Sri Lanka had fallen behind in the development of
tourism for obvious reasons and the product needed
improvement. The stakeholders were aware of it and
so was the ministry, said Hiran.
And that’s where the UNWTO could help us with their
services, research, statistics and expertise and
finding new markets, he observed.
“We are also debating on possibilities. We are
debating on how much our price should be. This, of
course is a very pleasant discourse. Earlier, we
were discussing on how much discounts we should be
giving. Now it’s the other way around. We are asking
how much we should be charging or are we
overcharging? And this is a pleasant debate. We can
go on arguing forever, but this is something
positive,” said the Chairman of PATA.
At the same time, Sri Lanka was also looking after
what it has. There’s a lot of development in the
south west coast in the national parks and so on
while the country introduced places such as
Kalpitiya, Arugam Bay, Pasikudah, Nilaweli,
Kuchchuveli for tourism development, said Hiran