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News  


 

Tourism needed 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 March 24.
“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 Cooray.