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WORLD NEWS | Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe proposes to make BIMSTEC area a ‘borderless’ tourist area


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COLOMBO, July 7 (PTI) — Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has suggested that the seven-member BIMSTEC region be made a “borderless” tourism zone.

He was speaking at the opening of the 67th Annual Conference of the Association of Travel Agents of India (TAAI), one of India’s oldest travel-related associations, at the historic Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BIMCH) on Thursday. speak.

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The theme of this year’s TAAI Conference is “Transcending Borders, Changing Lives”.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization that includes India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.

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In his speech, Wickremesinghe also spoke about the cash-strapped island nation’s recovery from last year’s economic crisis.

“We are trying to reinvigorate the tourism industry and tap more into the potential. We faced bankruptcy in Sri Lanka and now we are coming out of it, the debt restructuring process is underway. We still have to remember that the balance of trade growth is not working for us. Therefore, we must ensure a future trade surplus. “He said.

One of the ways to raise money without incurring debt is through tourism. So make the most of it, he said.

Wickremesinghe also touched on several projects his government plans to help speed up Sri Lanka’s recovery from the crisis in 2022, including seven golf courses and more resorts. Some laws will be changed to accommodate the tourism industry’s plans, he said.

In April 2022, Sri Lanka announced its first debt default, the worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948, as a shortage of foreign exchange sparked public protests.

Months of street protests led to the ouster of then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in mid-July last year.

In the next 10 years, people’s per capita income will increase and people will travel around, he said.

“So, why don’t we make the whole BIMSTEC region a borderless tourism (region)…that’s what you want…beyond borders,” he said.

Sri Lankans go to India, Indians go to Bangladesh, and it’s “a tourist area” for anyone coming from abroad, the president said.

“In 10 years, you will have a new industry. So we have to arrange our interconnection too,” Wickremesinghe said, adding, “My idea is that BIMSTEC should become a big tourist area. …..why don’t we?” Open BIMSTEC? Why don’t we use the Bay of Bengal for cruising? “

The opening ceremony was attended by many other dignitaries including Gopal Bagley, Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka; Harlem Fernando, Minister of Tourism and Lands; Nimal Siripala De Silva, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation; Chalaka Gajabahu, chairman of the Promotion Bureau (SLTPB).

De Silva later said Wickremesinghe’s idea would boost tourism in the BIMSTEC area.

Speaking at the meeting, Bagley said that Alliance announced that it will operate daily flights between Jaffna, Sri Lanka, and Chennai, India, starting July 16.

He also highlighted the historical and cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka, referring to the two countries as “twins of civilizations”.

There were also many wonderful performances by Sri Lankan artists at the opening ceremony of the conference.

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, the latest staff may not have modified or edited the body of content)


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