The Sri Lankan embassy in Brussels in collaboration with Sri Lanka Tourism held a week long promotion of Sri Lanka in Brussels this week in a programme intended to be replicated in other European capitals.
Centered on Sri Lanka's participation as the hos country at the BELASIA annual travel fair which projects over 25 Asian countries as a tourist destinations, it included tourism and travel promotion, a Sri Lankan Food festival, performances by a Sri Lankan dance troupe and Sri Lankan lace, masks, handicrafts and gem displays. The embassy in Brussels said the Minister of State of the Belgian Government Jos Chabert recalled his visits to Sri Lanka during the inauguration of the BELASIA on 20 February 2010.
Mr. Chabert said he saw Sri Lanka as the ‘paradise of Asia’ and was happy to see it forge ahead. According to the statement, he commended the sense of partnership generated by BELASIA to bring the East and West together and saw it as an opportunity to learn from each others capacities and advantages, to stimulate synergies and raise confidence in relations. He hoped that this exposure of Asia in Belgium, this year particularly highlighting Sri Lanka, would stimulate Belgians to visit these countries and build strong partnerships in the future.
Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union Ravinatha Aryasinha said Sri Lanka was honoured to have been selected as the host country of BELASIA, a key event in the tourism calendar of Belgium. He said this exhibition could not have come at a better time, for having overcome both the natural calamity caused by the tsunami and the man made damage caused by 30 years of terrorism, Sri Lanka tourism was gathering unprecedented momentum.
He said the 32% increase in tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in January 2010, over the corresponding period in 2009, is indicative that “tourists to Sri Lanka have voted with their feet”. He expressed confidence that BELASIA would serve as a catalyst in further promoting Sri Lanka in Belgium as well as in other parts of Europe.