Minister of Tourism Harin Fernando meets the UK travel industry

Minister of Tourism Harin Fernando who was in London recently met the UK travel industry on 16 June 2022 at the High Commission of Sri Lanka.  The promotional event which was organised by the High Commission of Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotional Bureau, was timely in the backdrop of the removal on 11 June of the advice against non-essential travel to Sri Lanka by the UK Government. Over 60 UK travel industry leaders including tour operators, travel associations, travel media, and representatives of airlines and hospitality sector attended the event. The UK has been the 2nd largest origin of inbound tourists to Sri Lanka.

Delivering the welcome address, High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena stated that Sri Lanka has been a resilient country which has overcome difficult situations. Sri Lanka relies on its allies’ support to promote Sri Lanka as ‘The next holiday destination’. What Sri Lanka offers is something unique that taps into the sixth sense of the traveller. Once in Sri Lanka, a traveller experiences a little bit of Sri Lankanness that they take away with them.

Dr. Lakmini Mendis, Minister (Commercial) of the High Commission introduced the three special speakers of the event, Bharat Gadhoke, Head of Commercial at the Association of Independent Tour Operators in the UK (AITO), Lynn Hughes, Founder Editor of the Wanderlust Magazine, and Tom Hall, Vice President Experience of Lonely Planet.

Bharat Gadhoke stated that specialist travellers consider unique countries like Sri Lanka to visit, as there is an extensive list of activities a traveller can engage in. He assured that the AITO stands ready to promote Sri Lanka among the UK travellers as done in the past. Lynn Hughes explained that Wanderlust Magazine has been considering Sri Lanka as one of the most popular destinations among their readership since the start of the magazine and it was proven by last year’s Wanderlust Awards where Sri Lanka was selected as one of the top 10 destinations of travellers’ choice. She highlighted that the search for ‘Sri Lanka’ on their website has been increased by 100% after the lifting of the UK travel advisory on non-essential travel to Sri Lanka. Tom Hall said he could confirm that Sri Lanka has been the best Island that a traveller could visit, from his travel experience as a part of the career at Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet had published 13 travel guides on Sri Lanka since the start of the magazine in 1973 and Sri Lanka received accolade as No.01 destination to travel in 2019.

Minister Harin Fernando explained the measures taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to overcome the current situation in the country.  The Minister also highlighted the investment opportunities in Sri Lankan hospitality and tourism sector. He said that Sri Lanka would be ready to welcome tourists during the winter holiday season this year as groundwork is being undertaken as per the contingency plan prepared by the Tourism Ministry.


High Commission of Sri Lanka London

27 June 2022