Deputy High Commissioner, Shri Vinod K. Jacob spoke at the presentation on Ramayana Trails organised by Sri Lanka – India Society and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau at Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, Colombo on 10th March 2022.
In his remarks, Deputy High Commissioner highlighted the strong people to people and cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka. In this connection, he mentioned the establishment of the air bubble arrangement between India and Sri Lanka in April 2021, the holding of the third Joint Working Group Meeting on Tourism and the inaugural flight from Sri Lanka to Kushinagar airport in October 2021.
India is ready to welcome tourists again and considers Sri Lanka as an important source market for tourism. To encourage tourism, the Government of India had recently suspended the RT-PCR test requirement for travellers who are fully vaccinated and announced the resumption of international commercial flights from 27th March 2022. He noted that despite the COVID related restrictions in 2021, 1.94 lakh tourists arrived in Sri Lanka, out of which 56,268 were from India which translates into about 29% of total arrivals. However, it was highlighted that efforts should be made by the Sri Lankan side to increase these numbers.
Deputy High Commissioner said that in the last two months, 7,682 tourists from Sri Lanka had visited India, while 196 had travelled for medical purposes. The objective of reaching a record of 3 lakh tourists to India in 2019 should be pursued. He also said that it was a good time for Sri Lankans in all walks of life to benefit from opportunities available in India; and in this regard, referred to examples of Sri Lankan cricketers in the Indian Premier League, artists in Bollywood and other creative personalities and investors.
The programme included presentation to audience on prominent sites linked with Ramayana in Sri Lanka, which would be of interest to Indian tourists.