Sri Lanka’s Tourism Minister Harin Fernando and former cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya, who was recently appointed as tourism ambassador, said on Saturday that it is safe to travel to Sri Lanka now as normalcy has returned in the country following months of political turmoil.
Jayasuriya said that Sri Lanka is exploring new avenues to attract more tourists.
“Last three months were difficult for Sri Lanka, things are now getting better. Govt is slowly trying to get things into the right place, it is time to promote tourism in Sri Lanka. I’m promoting Sri Lanka tourism in India, especially in Gujarat. We did a tourism promotion programme here. We had a roadshow here as well yesterday. As our neighbour, India has played a huge role in helping Sri Lanka during the crisis. We are very thankful to India,” news agency ANI quoted the cricketer as saying.
“We are looking to give a boost to religious tourism for which we are working with different spiritual centres,” said the former Sri Lanka captain. He added that ferry service between Puducherry and Sri Lanka has already been approved, and is expected to begin operations within four weeks. “We are also looking to increase connectivity between India and Sri Lanka,” Jayasuriya said.
Addressing media persons, Fernando said, “While the crisis is over now, the constant flow of negative news, which does not reflect the true picture in Sri Lanka, is one of the reasons behind the low tourist footfall there. I assure you that Sri Lanka is up and running, and Indian tourists are welcome to visit our country. Sri Lanka has a lot more to offer other than the beautiful beaches.”
Earlier, Jayasuriya also met with BCCI General Secretary and Asian Cricket Council Chairman Jay Shah to discuss ‘important’ issues related to cricket in his country. “It was an honour and a pleasure to meet Mr @JayShah Honorary secretary, Indian Cricket Board & Chairman, Asian Cricket Council. Thank you sir for agreeing to see us at such short notice. We discussed some important issues regarding cricket in Sri Lanka,” the cricketer tweeted.
Sri Lanka was to host the 2022 Asia Cup but due to the political turmoil resulting in violent protests throughout the nation meant the continental tournament was shifted to UAE.