Sri Lanka, Nepal to jointly promote tourism sector


Sri Lankan ambassador to Nepal Sumith Nakandala, speaking on behalf of his country, today offered to join hands with Nepal in promoting the tourism sector of the two South Asian countries. Nakandala was officially addressing the media on Friday for the first time after taking charge six months ago.

The ambassador, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and Sri Lanka, expressed his enthusiasm to put the mountains of Nepal and the beaches of Sri Lanka on the itinerary of international tourists. “For this, we need to solve the issue of air connectivity, as there is no direct flight between Colombo and Kathmandu,” he said. He conceded air connectivity was a crucial factor in promoting tourism in any country. That is why this issue was taken up even at the 14th SAARC summit that concluded in New Delhi recently, he pointed out.

The Sri Lankan embassy, in cooperation with Nepal Tourism Board, kicked off the golden jubilee celebrations of their diplomatic relations yesterday with the inauguration of a Sri Lankan Food Festival at Hotel de’ l Annapurna being held from April 6 to 7.

“We though it right to start off a year round of activities with food as food brings people together,” quipped Nakandala. The activities commemorating the 50th Anniversary of relations between the two countries will last from July 2007 to July 1, 2008, he informed. “Nepal is a revered nation in Sri Lanka, primarily because it is the birth place of Buddha,” said Nakandala adding that their focus would now be on promoting other regions as well, like Kathmandu and Pokhara besides Lumbini.

Moreover, Sri Lanka expressed keenness to assist Nepal’s department of archaeology and culture in excavating achaeological sities around Lumbini. “We have some of the best archaeologists in the world who will begin visiting Nepal from May onwards,” he promised. A group of Tamil English and Sinhalese media are currently on a FAM trip to Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini as part of these celebrations.

Nandini Thapa, director tourism marketing, NTB, welcomed the move to join hands with Sri Lanka in tourism. While the number of tourists from Sri Lanka had been growing over the years, they happened to be mostly ‘day tourists’ who entered through India and returned from Lumbini, she observed.

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