Lanka and Maldives mull joint tour packages
Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri
Lanka (right) and Ahmed Mohamed, Minister of Economic
Development of Maldives.
In the wake of Expo 2012’s successful tourist draw, Sri Lanka is
mulling joint tour packages with Maldives. “Combining Maldives’ ocean
gateway and attractive beaches with Sri Lanka’s diverse, multifaceted
inland tourism can lead to mutual benefits for both countries” said
Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka.
Minister Bathiudeen announced this to Ahmed Mohamed, Minister of
Economic Development of Maldives.
The visiting Maldivian Minister Ahmed was making a courtesy call on
Minister Bathiudeen on the side-lines of Expo 2012 on 30 March.
Maldives reported a record number of tourist arrivals in 2010 while
Sri Lanka’s tourist numbers in 2011 stood at 855,975. In February 2012
alone 83,549 tourists have arrived in Sri Lanka registering 27% increase
in comparison to February 2011, of which 3129 from the Maldives. In
2010, Sri Lanka recorded 5.3 Mn Foreign Guest Nights. According to the
Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, the Maldives is the third largest
trading partner of Sri Lanka among the SAARC countries, after India and
Pakistan. The value of total trade between the two countries stood at US
$ 50.6 Mn in 2010.
“Sri Lanka tourism has risen to new levels thanks to the efforts of
Basil Rajapaksa, our Economic Development Minister. As I am given to
understand, Maldives too is reporting record tourist numbers in 2010 and
I believe that time has come to for both countries to exploit the
tourism boom through joint efforts which can boost tourism industries at
both ends in a significant way. I suggest that we jointly promote
combined tourist packages using Maldives’ ocean gateway and attractive
beaches with Sri Lanka’s diverse, multifaceted inland tourism so that
both countries can gain more” Minister Bathiudeen informed Minister
Ahamed and added: “The potential of a combined Sri Lanka – Maldives
tourist market is very strong.”
Responding to Minister Bathiudeen, Minister Ahamed said: “Yes, I
agree that we can increase our mutual gains by a joint approach to this
industry. I too think that time is now ripe for joint tour packages for
foreign tourists given that our attractions are complementary.”