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Thailand reinforces support for Sri Lanka tourism with key MoU

Thailand last week reinforced its unwavering support for Sri Lanka and a quicker revival of tourism from setbackscaused by theEaster Sunday terror attacks.

The strong expression of support came from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), which signed an important memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB).

Under the MOU, TAT will share knowledge on best practices in destination marketing to SLTP as well as assist in joint promotion of the Buddhist trail in Sri Lanka, provide technical assistance in developing cultural experiences for tourists, and promote celebrity and influencer visits to Sri Lanka.

Thailand tourism has faced many similar setbacks, but recovered quickly to attract even greater numbers. It draws 38 million tourists annually, and the industry earns $ 90 billion in foreign exchange earnings. TAT will share expertise with regard to crisis management and recovery strategies with SLTPB.

The signing of the MOU coincided with an 80-member Thai delegation led by TAT Deputy Governor C.K.N. Ayudhya, comprising tourism officials, 40 tour operators and 20 Thai media personnel, including travel bloggers. Their familiarisation tour of Sri Lanka, which began on 27 June, ends today.

Last year, around 9,800 Thai tourists visited Sri Lanka while Thailand attracted over 50,000 Sri Lankan visitors. Over nine million Thais travel overseas annually for holiday.

TAT Deputy Governor C.K.N. Ayudhya said he last visited Sri Lanka 12 years ago and that it was always a pleasure to be back. “Several members of the Thai delegation haven’t been here before, and I am sure it will be an eye-opening experience with warm hospitality. It will be a truly rewarding experience,” he said. “The core values of Sri Lanka are still very much intact and should be promoted to the world. Sri Lanka Tourism and corporates must go out to the world and tell this story, that Sri Lanka is open for business once again,” the TAT Deputy Governor added.

He said TAT and SLTPB had worked together for several years, and Sri Lanka and Thailand enjoy strong ties in terms of Buddhism, trade, investment, culture and tourism.

“All these relations will bode us well as we move together in challenging times.We are always together. No one in the world can exist alone, but we are hand in hand. Whatever experience and knowledge we can impart, we will, and rest assured that Thailand is here for you (Sri Lanka). We will send more Thai tourists to the wonderful Sri Lanka,” he emphasised.

He stressed that the MoU is a good start to making things happen and to further the Sri Lanka-Thailand ties.

The visit of the Thai delegation and the MoU follow a recent meeting between Tourism Minister John Amaratunga and TAT Governor Y. Supasorn. They met on the side-lines of THAIFEX 2019, held in Bangkok in early June, where Supasorn assured that Thailand would help Sri Lanka tourism recover faster following the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Thailand Ambassador Chulamanee Chartsuwan reiterated that her country had never imposed a travel ban or slapped an adverse travel advisory, and that it was a group of Thai Buddhist tourists who came to Sri Lanka soon after the Easter Sunday attacks.

She also said that the traditional Thai tourists would opt for Buddhism, culture and heritage, but Sri Lanka has lot to offer to the younger Thais as well. She listed beaches, adventure, wildlife, etc., including blue whale watching, safari in Yala, and Sripada (Adam’s Peak).