Tourism industries in Sri Lanka and Nepal have welcomed the recently started direct flights operated by Sri Lankan Airlines connecting Colombo and Kathmandu, thus removing a long-felt impediment to promote tourism between the two countries.
Against this backdrop, Sri Lanka Embassy in Nepal joined hands with Nepal Tourist Board (NTB) and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) to promote tourism between Sri Lanka and Nepal and explore opportunities for collaborative activities. A webinar was held on 30 September 2021 hosted by Nepal Tourist Board, bringing together the tourism promotion institutions and tourism industry stakeholders from Sri Lanka and Nepal onto one platform. The industry representatives welcomed the direct flight, and discussed opportunities for collaboration to promote tourism, as well as the measures that need to be in place to instill confidence in customers traveling during the pandemic.
Delivering the opening remarks, Chief Executive Officer of Nepal Tourist Board Dhananyaja Regmi presented the post COVID strategy for Nepal tourism and the year-round attractions in Nepal. Director Marketing of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Dushan Wickramasuriya made a presentation on the diversity of Sri Lanka’s tourist attractions and also outlined the post COVID safety protocols that have been put in place for safe and secure tourism during the pandemic.
Religious tourism covering Buddhist and Hindu religious sites, cultural heritage, and adventure tourism were highlighted as providing similar attractions in both Sri Lanka and Nepal, yet with their own unique characteristics. Five of the UNESCO heritage sites in Sri Lanka are related to Buddhism while Nepal is home to Lumbini where Prince Siddhartha was born. The similarity of cultures also makes the two countries appealing holiday destinations for each others’ citizens.
Over 50 participants representing the travel industry in Sri Lanka and Nepal took part in the interactive webinar. The Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), Association of Small & Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET), Travel Agents’ Association of Sri Lanka shared their views from the Sri Lankan industry perspective. From Nepal, the Nepal Association of Tour & Travel Agents (NATTA) and Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal shared their insights and ideas. The industry associations also exchanged views on practical issues relating to tour packages, health and safety protocols, and possibilities for combined destination promotion.
Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Nepal Himalee Arunatilaka and Chargė affairs of Nepal to Sri Lanka Bishwash Bhatta also addressed the webinar and assured their fullest support to promote tourism between Sri Lanka and Nepal.