May 7, 20170

The Ministry of Commerce, the People’s Republic of China, in collaboration with the Economic & Commercial Counsellor’s Office of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka conducted “2017 Seminar on Tourism Administration for ASEAN Countries” from 7th to 20th April, at the Yunnan International Center for Economic & Technical Exchanges in Yunnan, China.

The participants were the senior government officials from ASEAN Countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Samoa, Bangladesh, China and Sri Lanka.

There were 19 senior officials from different  ministries and governmental organizations of Sri Lanka, participated at the seminar they were officials from Presidential Secretariat, Ministry of Tourism, Skills Development Ministry, Health Ministry, Ministry of Labour, Media Ministry, Ministry of Vocational Training , Ministry of Foreign  Employment, University of Colombo,Land Reclamation Corporation, Ports Authority, Department for Registration of Persons, Sri Lankan Airlines and Representatives from China Eastern Airlines etc. and the President of the Chamber of Tourism &  Industry attended the Seminar.

The Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media, Hon. Karunarathna Paranawithana (MP), who was present at the opening ceremony, made a speech on Sri Lanka’s potential in Agriculture & Tourism and highlighted the investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka.

According to the President of Chamber of Tourism & Industry, Mr. A.M. Jaufer, it was a very useful seminar & was an invaluable learning experience. He says, the way that the Chinese Authorities have developed their natural tourist attractions such as Mountains, Parks, Lakes, and Lagoon etc. to such high standard, is very commendable. It generates a lot of income to the local community.

The pattern of diversity in unity in China is very encouraging.  In China, there are 56 ethnic communities and in Yunnan Province itself, they have about 26 ethnic communities, & they integrate very well with each other & the co-existence is very encouraging.

They have heavily focused on domestic tourism & organize numerous cultural & recreational activities based on their cultural values & beliefs. They believe in the slogan that “The Culture is the Passport to Tourism Development “and the cultural events that they promote are either based on recreational activities or otherwise, adventure based activities. Chinese History, Chinese Culture, Ethnic Culture & Traditional Festivals are the order of the day. The Sri Lankan Delegation felt that they can learn a lot from them & that we should pay more attention to recreational & adventure activities when promoting Sri Lanka Tourism.                                                                       

The participants were afforded the opportunity to visit several important places such as, Yunnan Provincial Tourism Development Commission, Li Jiang Tourism Association and China Power Company in Kunming, Yunnan and exchanged views on how they can assist the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.  The delegation spent some time in visiting tourist attractions in Li Jiang and Dali of Yunnan province as well. 

Mr.Jaufer making the Country Presentation highlighted the special tourist attractions available in Sri Lanka and indicated that among all other Asian countries, Sri Lanka is one country where one could experience 3 different climatic conditions within a matter of a few hours of travel. He cordially invited them to visit historical and beautiful Sri Lanka, which is called “The Pearl in the Indian Ocean” and also to see the investment opportunities available in the tourism & hospitality industry. He emphasized the fact that the Sri Lankan Government is offering a series of incentives for such foreign investments.

During the meeting with Yunnan tourism commission official, he appealed to the Chinese Authorities for technical assistance & financial support in order to facilitate rural development in tourism industry. He mentioned that there is a vast potential of untapped resources in these provinces & by supporting them to develop, it will lead to a social growth in the country. It was noted that they are 158.6m inbound tourist arriving annually in the yunnan provinces. He also identified the need to establish a Tourism Research Center to facilitate research work on tourism development & other related activities in Sri Lanka.   

He says that he has visited USA, UK, Thailand, Maldives, UAE, Qatar, India, Kuwait & China on tourism promotional programs and is of the view that the Ministry of Foreign Employment must try to have some bilateral arrangement with countries such as China, Russia, UK, Germany and France etc, where we heavily depend on, for our inbound traffic – our work force to be given employment opportunities in these countries to enhance their knowledge & experience, very specially in the field of tourism & hospitality . Even in developed countries like Australia, Canada & USA etc, the opportunities offered for advanced training & development, will eventually help the industry to maintain high standards in delivering its services. Our workforce will get accustomed to the facilities & standards maintained by these countries & will also understand the expectations, habits & attitudes of those nationalities.

Another special area, where he thought that we can pay some special attention was the              “Travel Police “operation that he noticed in China. He even suggested to Chinese Authorities whether they can have some cross – exposure arrangement for our “Tourist Police “, whereby our police officers will be trained how to handle situations in a professional manner & also how to deal with foreign  guests, when they are faced with difficulties. With that kind of training, our police officers will be able to learn about their attitudes, culture & languages etc.

Mr. Jaufer had a special word of thanks to Mr. Paddy Withana, the Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority for assisting & providing him with promotional material, which became very helpful in presenting his case to the Chinese Authorities.

He also conveys his special thanks to Ms. Kong Yefie of the Economic & Commercial Counsellor’s Office of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka & Col. Wipula Jayakody of PowerChina Kunming Engineering Corporation Limited – Sri Lanka Office, who coordinated with the participants before they left for China to attend the seminar & Ms. Li Yan, Deputy Director of International affairs for the tourism commission Yunnan Province for her attention & care given to the Sri Lankan Delegation, when they were in Kunming, Yunnan.

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