TEHRAN—On Monday, Colombo’s embassy in Tehran hosted a two-hour meeting on traveling to Sri Lanka, highlighting colorful destinations and traditions of the island country.

 

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Iran, G.M.V. Wishwanath Aponsu, senior travel insiders, representatives of the Foreign Ministry, Mahan Air, and Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture exchanged views on ways to facilitate tourism for the two nations.

During his opening remarks, the ambassador introduced Sri Lanka as a country of natural wonders, historical, momentous, unique lifestyles with more delicious typical cuisine, friendly people, and a safe & secure destination.

Highlighting the recent growth of Iranian tourists’ floor to Sri Lanka, the envoy appreciated the significant role of tour operators, travel agencies, airlines, and relevant others in achieving the present progress of tourist arrivals. Further, he made an open and friendly request to all represented tourism stakeholders in the Promotion Programme to encourage the friendly people of Iran to continue visiting Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan tourism is ready to welcome them with their required facilities with great hospitalities.

Attempts to launch direct flights, proper introduction of travel destinations, traditions and culture of the locals, and visa simplification rules were among the themes that tens of tour operators, hoteliers, travel agents, and tour guides discussed at the event.

In addition, some attendees expressed their views on the hospitality of the people, safari parks, tourism accommodation, transportation, native cuisine, tea plantations, and wildlife, among other themes.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran Mohammad Deldari, Airline Specialist Majid Singh, and Former Secretary General of the Air Transport and Tourist Agencies, Faramarz Saeedi highlighted Sri Lanka as a unique and affordable tourist destination. Several suggestions include the need of operating a direct air link between Iran and Sri Lanka, conduct regular tourism awareness programs, convene B2B meetings between both Chambers, introduce reasonable tour packages, initiate FAM tour campaigns, provide publicity through electronic and print media and facilitating for bilateral instruments were also discussed.

Tehran talks raise awareness of traveling to Sri Lanka

In response, Ambassador Wishwanath Aponsu pointed out that the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tehran is in the process of working on some proposals in coordination with the concerned authorities of Sri Lanka and Iran with a focus on expanding the two-way tourism floor between the two countries. In this scenario, he emphasized all tourism-related stakeholders of both countries had a significant role in proceeding with the proposals and expressed that reaching for rapid growth expected in tourism is “leaving no one behind.”On behalf of the Iran Tourist Association, Saeedi thanked the Sri Lanka Embassy for timely organizing the tourism event and assured his Association's fullest support to expand two-way tourism.

The event was attended by over 65 participants working in Iran's tourism industry, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Foreign Ministry, airlines, media personnel, and prominent business people. The invitees were treated to a reception with several Sri Lankan typical food items with Ceylon tea taste.

Earlier in September, Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Hashem Ashja’zadeh met with Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva to explore ways to promote tourism. Their discussions were also focused on initiating direct airline services between Iran’s capital Tehran and Sri Lanka and making the service a fruitful means to encourage more Iran travelers to the island.

Sri Lanka’s tourism income during the first ten months of this year exceeded $1 billion, as per the latest data from the central bank. Available data show that the monthly tourism earnings were $75.6 million in October, Travel And Tour World reported on Tuesday.