An interactive meeting was held between Italian travel trade stakeholders and the Minister of Tourism Development, Lands and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga in Milan, Italy yesterday.
The meeting took place on the side-lines of Borsa Internazionale del Turismo (BIT) which takes place from April 2nd to 04th in Milan. BIT is an international meeting point for decision makers, professionals and buyers from different areas in the tourism industry.
Over 50 participants comprising travel agents, Destination Management Companies, professionals and businessmen in the travel trade were present at the Interactive Meeting. The objective of the event was to promote Sri Lanka’s tourism industry while offering a platform to exchange ideas, network, explore business prospects and promote the country to potential tour operators and travel related agencies in Italy.
Speaking during the meeting Minister Amaratunga emphasised that BIT is considered an important tourism promotional event for Sri Lanka. He said the event would help re-position Sri Lanka in Italy as the most sought after travel destination in Asia. The Minister also spoke of the conducive environment prevailing in the country for the Italian market and said that Sri Lanka Tourism was planning to launch a series of market development programmes in Milan, Turin and Verona including media FAMs and Road Shows.
Responding to queries posed during the Q & A session regarding Sri Lanka’s strategic plans for the Italian market, Minister Amaratunga said that trade familiarization tours and media familiarization tours will continue to be a major component of the marketing plan while traditional promotional activities such as participating at travel fairs, conducting roadshows and outdoor promotions will also be carried out in key identified locations.
Minister Amaratunga added that with SriLankan Airlines suspending flights to key European destinations, Sri Lanka Tourism will push for an open skies policy to boost connectivity.
Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), Sutheash Balasubramanium made a presentation of the country’s tourism attractions highlighting the changing political landscape and increased private sector led policy making.
Consul General Pradeepa Saram in her remarks highlighted the significance of establishing the Sri Lanka Consulate General in Milan, the economic and financial nerve centre of Italy. She said the Consulate has been focusing on promoting economic, trade, tourism and cultural relations between the two countries.
Italy is the 6th largest market in Europe and considered as one of the most important tourism generating markets for Sri Lanka in the Western European Region accounting for nearly 30,000 tourist arrivals in 2016 with a growth rate of 22.6% in 2016.
The Interactive Meeting was organized in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Embassy in Rome, Consulate General in Milan and the SLTPB.
Minister Amaratunga also held a meeting with senior officials of the Milan Chamber of Commerce and PROMOS. Promos is a Special Agency of the Milan Chamber of Commerce for the promotion of international trade. The Minister held discussions with Senior Board Member of the Milan Chamber and Chairman/CEO of Antares Hotels Milano, Remo Eder and Head of Strategic Areas Department, Dr. Federico Maria Bega.
The Minister discussed opportunities and investment prospects particularly in the tourism and leisure sector. He also requested collaboration between SriLankan Airlines and Alitalia. The Chamber officials assured that the request will be channelled to the relevant authorities for consideration. Possible Italian participation at Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave 2017 organized by the Ceylon Chamber, initiating of a Memorandum of Understanding between the chambers of two countries and exchange of travel trade delegations were also discussed.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Rome, Daya Pelpola, Consul General in Milan, Mrs. Pradeepa Saram, Senior Adviser to the Minister Felix Rodrigo and Minister Counsellor (Commercial), Somasena Mahadiulwewa were associated with the Minister.