Colombo, Sri Lanka

The continued journey of Tourism in Sri Lanka

By Gihan - TMG (Sri Lanka), independent tour guide in Sri Lanka

Leading to 50th Anniversary of Sri Lanka Tourism from 1966 to 2016

A strategic location in the ‘Indian Ocean’ attracted many explorers & travelers to this beautiful ‘Island Paradise’ from the ancient times. One might also think that oversized Island of Taprobane as indicated in Ptolemy’s world map was intended propaganda for ancient Ceylon. Marvels of the world by Marco Polo, Rihla also known as the ‘Journey’ published by Ibn Battuta and as described in his important travelogue of Fa-Hien, Sri Lanka as a country was highly depicted in recorded history of ancient world. Much glamour is added by historical stories of ‘silk route’, the spices & cinnamon which are few of the testimony in support of this great story of a continued journey of Tourism in Sri Lanka.

Unspoiled natural beauty of a tropical Island, rich history of ancient hydro-civilization and the warmth of hospitality extended through its native people were part of the correct mix that gradually developed Sri Lanka into a popular destination loved by thousands of international tourists, at present.

The growing need to develop & promote tourism on a systematic basis was identified by the Government of Sri Lanka way back in 1966 when Ceylon Tourist Board took necessary initiatives to lead an industry which has immense support to the national economy as a main foreign currency earning source.

Since then eminent personalities, professionals, experts & veterans in the travel trade has made invaluable contributions to nurture a wide range of tourism products, capitalizing on a Sri Lankan identity. Ceylon Hotel School that was established in 1963 was a major step taken towards the much needed human resource development for the industry.

By 1977, the first 10 year Tourism Development Master Plan showed results and encouraged Sri Lanka to move further with planned and guided industry development maximizing economic benefits to the country. 1st ‘National Holiday Resort’ in Bentota was the ever famous golden-mile eagerly promoted by then travel agents featuring Sun, Sand and Sea among overseas markets.

Commendable tourism promotional activities were carried-out through a network of representative offices Australia, India, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and USA by early 1990s. Tireless efforts of Tourism Promotion Bureau together with Sri Lanka Convention Bureau in promoting Sri Lanka as a destination for the MICE market segment proved to be a success when arrival figures reached 500,000 and 1 million as landmarks, in the past. Destination Sri Lanka would look forward welcoming 2 million tourist arrivals in 2016 with a lot of pre-preparations from everyone working in tourism industry and much enthusiasm from the masses at large.

Ongoing development process and the future of tourism in Sri Lanka are of much value to the country’s economy in many ways. It earns valuable foreign exchange, leads to the development of the agricultural & industrial activities and more importantly diverts income sources towards the rural sector. This is essential for Sri Lanka in its present day process to develop the entire nation including the North & East of our beautiful Island.

Tourism in Sri Lanka passed through its second phase from 1992 to 2001 when the UNDP/ WTO assisted ‘Master Plan’ was formulated to optimize industry benefits. Newly opened ‘promotion offices’ in identified major markets of London, Paris & Frankfurt were able to strengthen marketing and promotional activities working along with previously opened representation offices.

While creating an awareness of the Sri Lanka’s Tourism Product amongst leading travel & tour operators, participating in trade fairs and international exhibitions, it was equally important to make a direct approach to the consumer through travel media in order to gain wider exposure.

Rapid development in infrastructure facilities such as star class leisure resorts & luxury transportation facilities are introduced to enhance the tourism product in Sri Lanka with active involvement of the private sector companies for overseas promotions as a routine and on a continuous process. They also focus on various niche products to highlight the destination backed by the Government endorsement and encouragement given through Sri Lanka Tourism. Year 2016 marks the Golden Jubilee of Sri Lanka Tourism which will continue its journey with local and global traveler facing the challenges of tomorrow…


About Gihan – TMG (Sri Lanka), independent tour guide in Sri LankaProfile image of tour guide Gihan Perera
Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way – but it is interesting to know that Serendib was an Old Persian name for Sri Lanka. You will surely find happiness in your journey and on top of it, the local people would make you feel at home with their gestures in traditional hospitality and the warmth of smiling faces. Diverse opportunities for the explorer never end on this land and I would look forward to share the best of my experiences wi
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