KOCHI: Sri Lanka’s Deputy Tourism Minister, Arundika Fernando, who is on a visit to the state, said the Lankan Government is actively considering a tie-up with Kerala in the tourism sector. Fernando said Colombo’s rise as a tourist hotspot did not take a toll on the tourism potential of India or Kerala.
He said both Kerala and Sri Lanka have several common features and Colombo is keen on cooperating with the state in the fields of tourism and cultural exchange. “We discussed bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector during talks with New Delhi . But we are also looking for a tie-up with the other Indian states. Besides tourism, we are here to extend an invite to investors to set up businesses in other sectors in Sri Lanka,” he told reporters here.
Fernando said tourism is one of the major sources of revenue for the ‘emerald’ nation, with the tourism sector witnessing rapid growth. Currently, Lanka’s annual revenue from the tourism sector is pegged at $3 billion and this is expected to jump up to $7 billion by 2020.
The Lankan Government also has plans to increase the tourist footfall by 2020. “After the Eelam War with the Tamil Tiger rebels (LTTE), the tourism sector in Sri Lanka has witnessed rapid growth. The geographical features have ensured Lanka’s place as one of the most preferred tourist destinations,” he said.
Fernando denied Sri Lanka had emerged as a rival to India on the tourism front. “In fact, we are not promoting Sri Lanka tourism alone. People coming to Sri Lanka also prefer to visit India and Maldives. We are promoting tourism of multiple nations. India has always been a key player in Lanka’s development.
Ravindra Samaraweera, Colombo’s Minister of Labour and Trade Unions, spoke on India’s contributions in rebuilding his nation. He also dwelt on the cultural exchange between Kerala and Sri Lanka.
“Ayurveda is a key attraction for tourists visiting Sri Lanka. However, ayurveda in Sri Lanka is not as well developed as it is in Kerala. Similarly, education is another sector where Lanka can stand to gain from Kerala,” he said.