'Oman, Sri Lanka have tourism potential'
"We opened our mission in the Sultanate of Oman on December 19, 1987
and our relations have grown from strength to strength ever since. We
will reach the historical landmark of 25 years in our diplomatic
relations with Oman," said Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Oman Asoka
He said, "Oman has become one of our closest friends in the Middle
East region and our relations encompass various fields - from manpower,
construction industry and hospitality to agriculture, education,
tourism, trade and close co-operation in multilateral forums.
"There is one striking feature between Sri Lanka and Oman, among
other similarities. Both countries have been internationally acclaimed
as popular tourist destinations due to rich cultural heritage and wealth
of natural beauty," Girihagama said.
"It is common knowledge that Muscat was awarded the prestigious title
of 'Arab Tourism Capital 2012' in recognition of its rich culture and
Following this prestigious recognition, Oman has accelerated numerous
tourism-related projects to meet the challenges in the tourism sector to
make the country more attractive to visitors.
"Sri Lanka, while treading the same path, has taken numerous steps in
infrastructure development to provide more facilities to visitors and to
bring international standards to the tourism sector," he said.
Sri Lankan policy makers initiated a five-year tourism development
plan in 2011 with a view to increasing annual tourist arrivals to 2.5
million; expanding annual foreign exchange earnings from tourism to
US$2.75 billion and to increase the room capacity to 45,000 by 2016,
among other things.
"In terms of tourism development, our room capacity must be increased
by around three-fold from the current capacity of 14,000. Although it is
an uphill task, we are determined to achieve that target within the next
four-year period. Therefore, opportunities are open for investors to
develop the hospitality industry of the country. I trust this is the
opportune time to learn from each other of the challenges and
experiences of the industry for the development of tourism sectors of
the two countries," ambassador Girihagama said.