Sri Lanka is aiming to garner a lot of publicity and promotion in addition to drawing hundreds of foreign fans for a major world cup cricket tournament here from September 18 to October 7.
"We are expecting at least 10,000 to 15,000 fans from abroad for the tournament, mostly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh for the ICC World Twenty20 cricket tournament," a Sri Lanka Tourism (SLT) official said.
He said so far 8000 hotel rooms have booked for the event in which 10 test playing nations and two other qualifiers and eight women's teams are contesting, and expected another 8,000 rooms to be taken up before the event.
"It's our biggest event for the year and happening at a good time because September is the off season." The matches will be played in Colombo and other centres across the island with SLT also planning familiarisation trips for some 300 foreign journalists covering the tournament, during off-days.
He said the authorities were working together with sports channel ESPN to show places of interest like cultural sites, wild life parks and the beaches during the coverage of the matches. "This is a great promotional event for cricket-crazy Sri Lanka," he said. Several top travel agencies and destination management companies were working out attractive packages for hundreds of fans coming to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is aiming to attract more than a million visitors this year, for the first time since tourism, began growing as a key economic sector in the early 1970s.