Promoting Sri Lanka as a South Asian hub
The government's objective is to make Sri Lanka the Air and Sea hub of South Asia and this is in line with the objective of the Travel Mart, said Udaya Nanayakkara, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourist Board speaking to The Sunday Times FT, soon after the inauguration of the Sri Lanka Travel Mart Gateway to South Asia in Colombo last week.

"That is why we call it Sri Lanka the gateway to South Asia and that is why Sri Lankan Airlines is spreading its wings to India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. This will also give an opportunity for us to spread to other SAARC countries and to other neighbouring countries enabling us to promote tourism," he said adding that in this exercise they had invited around 150 buyers and said that within one and a half hours after opening the Travel Mart there were 110. The Travel Mart was inaugurated by Arjuna Ranatunga, Deputy Minister of Tourism.

At this Travel Mart, the Sri Lankan German Development Corporation (GTZ), a project funded by the German Government, had taken a stall to promote alternative tourism. Ms Wilja C G Witcombe, Business Consultant of the project said they are involved in the capacity building for competitiveness and qualified employment in a programme of Value Chain Promotion Component (VCP).

The programme has been in operation in Sri Lanka for the last 10 years in an attempt to support private sector enterprises in Sri Lanka and to develop international competitiveness and export business opportunities under its Private Sector Promotion Project (PSP) .

Within this programme three years ago they launched the promotion of Alternative Tourism. She said that they have made headway in promoting Alternative Tourism in Europe. GTZ has prepared a complete Trade Directory for the Alternative Tourism sector of Sri Lanka of different enterprises, institutions and products available. The first draft of it was submitted to the Sri Lanka

Tourist Board to be used as an information base for this market to enhance, expand, improve and maintain it. A spokesman for the Kerala Tourism, represented at the Travel Mart, said that as far as Kerala tourism is concerned it is the newest destination in India which has got everything. Sri Lanka is the launching pad to Kerala as Sri Lanka has lots of communication channels to the entire world.

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