The request was made at a meeting held between EU Ambassador in Sri Lanka Denis Chaibi, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga and SLTDA Chairperson Kimarli Fernando on Tuesday. Commending the Government’s proactive measures taken to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in Sri Lanka, the EU Ambassador said the decision to grant 3.5 million euros was made in support to boost the tourism industry impacted by the pandemic.
Expressing gratitude on behalf of the Sri Lankan Government, Minister Ranatunga called on the SLTDA Chairperson Fernando to submit the relevant proposals to the EU in the immediate future.
According SLTDA data, tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka stood at 71,370 in March of which 60% of these came from European countries with the closure of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on 19 March.
Europe is a key source market for Sri Lanka and the tourist traffic from Europe totalled 42,084 in March.
The Minister pointed out that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy framework has recognised tourism, as a thrust sector for economic development in Sri Lanka.
Noting that the Government’s objective is to boost tourism industry by generating $ 10 billion in foreign exchange and increasing the annual tourist arrivals to seven million by 2025, Ranatunga added every step will be taken to meet the desired target despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19.
Tourism Ministry Secretary to S. Hettiarachchi, Industrial Export and Investment Promotion Ministry Secretary Mapa Pathirana, SLTDA Director General Dhammika Wijeratne were also present at the discussion.