“Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and we have the most hospitable people in the world. Let us showcase the best of our country—our culture, heritage, nature, wildlife and food.”

These words of Paddy Withana, Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism, are a fitting testament to stats that show Sri Lanka as one of the world’s top destinations for visitors seeking new holiday experiences.

He was talking to Sri Lanka Mirror in a wide-ranging interview that clearly underlines his commitment to taking our Paradise island faster and further forward in the global hospitality stakes.

“Sri Lanka has the best wildlife, nature, historical and cultural sites. For example, if we look at our hill country, it is beautiful with rolling hills, tea plantations and waterfalls.”

He spoke with the assurance and conviction of a man clearly on top of his brief, experience gained during many years at the peak of an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing global industry.

Specifically, he says, “this Government has identified areas for development such as the South, East, Mannar and Kalpitiya, the surrounding islands as well as the north. Then we are looking at the plantation area, the central highlands. The hill country is a top-end market for visitors from the Middle East.

mirror-support-tourism-2“Wildlife is something unique that we offer in this country. We have to make sure that we protect the environment. Sri Lanka Tourism is working with agencies such as the coast conservation agency, wildlife department, forestry and irrigation. I always believe that we have to protect our wildlife.”

Which is good news not only for environmentalists, but also everyone connected with making eco and sustainable tourism joint cornerstones of Sri Lanka’s entire tourism industry.

Withana addresses at length the nuts and bolts of the industry, and the importance of keeping the whole construction in synch and on the same page of the tourism instruction manual.

He was also clear about arrival priorities: “The top markets are India, China, UK, Germany, France, Russia and the Middles East. However, there are emerging markets, which are Scandinavia, Australian and New Zealand.

“We also need to have a greater focus on the US market. We need to focus more on the European market as they stay the longest in Sri Lanka, when compared with Asians.”

And his last words on the subject? “We ask people to work with us and also protect the environment. We are expecting four million tourists into the country, therefore we need to step up and perform. We encourage people to join the industry because there is great potential.”

Read the full report here.

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