Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, organised a special ceremony on New Year’s Eve at the Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake to welcome the first tourists coming into the country, in 2011.
These visitors who arrived in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, were welcomed by Lakshman Yapa Abeywardhana, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism and Malraj Kiriella, Acting Managing Director, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau along with the heads of the tourism and travel trade.
The tourists received a traditional welcome with Sri Lankan drummers and dancers performing, and were garlanded and offered surprise gifts.
The tourists were invited to a traditional sweetmeats buffet table with kiribath and kavum and also to light the traditional oil lamp.
Visit Sri Lanka 2011 was declared by President Mahinda Rajapaksa with the country attaining peace after three decades. Sri Lanka Tourism is set to achieve the target of 700,000 tourists in 2011 with the launch of the Visit Sri Lanka Year.
Visit Sri Lanka 2011 has 12 theme events spread across the year. They will be promoted during each month of 2011, symbolising the 12 letters in the “Wonder of Asia”. These 12 themes include beaches, sports and adventure, MICE, people & culture, religious tourism, weddings & honeymoons, body & mind wellness, heritage, nature & wildlife, community & education, culinary and shopping & entertainment.
The campaign aims to involve the domestic market and to develop domestic products by the end of the year.
Sri Lanka was earlier known as a beach destination. However the events planned for year 2011 and the products created surrounding the events and themes will highlight the various products that could cater to different market segments the world over.