Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, today launched the first in a series of “Signature Tours,” that will bring more American travelers to Sri Lanka to see and experience the magnificence of the island.
The group of 25 tourists is visiting Sri Lanka from August 20–29, 2010 and is accompanied by Ambassador Wickramasuriya. Travelers on the inaugural trip include an award-winning travel writer, a Hollywood film professional and executives from a variety of companies.
“It is our pleasure to bring this group of American travelers to Sri Lanka,” said Ambassador Wickramasuriya. “I look forward to introducing the travelers to our island of unrivaled splendor and our welcoming culture. I know our journey will be an eye-opening experience that will highlight Sri Lanka’s boundless potential.”
The 12-day itinerary includes travel from the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo to the U.N. World Heritage site of the Galle Fort and then a visit to the renowned countryside and tea fields of Nuwara Eliya. Working with the Embassy, the itinerary was organized by Jetwing Travels, a leading travel company in Sri Lanka.
Earlier this year, The New York Times named Sri Lanka its number one travel destination in 2010 and National Geographic ranked Sri Lanka second among its top 25 places to visit in 2010.
The Embassy plans to arrange Signature Tours on an annual basis.
Due to the stable, peaceful conditions in Sri Lanka since the May 2009 end of a conflict against the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the number of tourist arrivals has increased by 50 percent during the first half of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009. The U.S. Department of State in May recognized the lasting peace and lifted a travel advisory.
“We believe we are just scratching the surface of our tourism market and we look forward to continued growth,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said.
Guidance and cooperation extended by Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Development, and officials at the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) were essential in the timely implementation of this initiative.