KOCHI: To attract more tourists from India, the Sri Lankan government launched a Ramayana tourism circuit, which will links all temples and caves in the country associated with the Hindu epic. The initiative was presented by Sri Lanka Tourism Minister John Amaratunga at the Sri Lanka Tourism Roadshow held in Kochi on Friday.
Amartunga said tourists from India visiting Sri Lanka will be provided with free visas. Also, the country has introduced a 50 per cent discount on hotel packages with effect from August 1 for Indian tourists and also brought down ground handling charges in airports.
According to the Minister, Sri Lanka today, has the highest number of concessions for its guests. “Free visa programs have been announced to encourage tourists from India. Sri Lanka, for some time now, was not being considered by tourists from South India owing to internal problems. However, the situation has changed. Our country is now a safe destination,” he said. The Minister said new policies which were being introduced were part of a larger plan to revive the tourism industry.
Since the Tamil Nadu government has also given the green signal to operate ferry service to Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu from Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan authorities will soon kick off the project. The ferry service is expected to be launched by the end of this year after finalising procedures with the Indian government.
Manavari temple, Ravan cave, Ashok Vatika, Seetha Amman temple, Divurumpola, Ussangoda, Thiru Koneswaram temple and Kathirkamam are part of the Ramayana circuit in Sri Lanka.
Felix Rodrigo, advisor to the Minister of Tourism delivered a presentation on Sri Lanka Tourism at the Roadshow while Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau assistant director Viranga Bandara introduced the features of Sri Lanka Tourism. District Collector S Suhas, FICCI co-chairman Deepak L Aswani, FICCI state tourism committee convener U C Riyas, FICCI state head Savio Mathew also spoke.
The event was organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce(FICCI) along with Sri Lankan Tourism Bureau and Spice Land Holidays Group. The Indian government had also launched the Ramayana circuit in June this year and is one of the fifteen thematic circuits identified for development under Swadesh Darshan Scheme.