Nepal, Sri Lanka mull joint tour packages
Tourism entrepreneurs of Nepal and Sri Lanka have agreed to develop joint tour packages targeting tourists from countries like India and China.
The entrepreneurs along with policymakers of both the countries said the combined package could be instrumental in attracting more tourists. They also suggested establishing direct air connectivity between Kathmandu and Colombo to increase the number of tourists in both countries.
A delegation of Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) is currently in Sri Lanka to promote Nepal´s tourism attractions and organize its half-yearly meeting.
Issuing a statement on Sunday, the association said its promotional programs in the Sri Lankan capital were aimed at developing Nepal as a destination for pilgrimage and leisure tourism.
Speaking at a program organized by HAN in Colombo on Saturday, Chandima Wirakodi, Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament, said the combined package can attract tourists from various destinations as it will include different products ranging from mountain to ocean. “The joint effort will definitely help promote tourism and contribute in the economy of both countries,” he added.
Sushil Chandra Amatya, Nepali ambassador to Sri Lanka, said direct air connectivity between Kathmandu and Colombo can help bring Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka to Lumbini – the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
HAN President Shyam Sundar Lal Kakshpati expressed hope that the number of Sri Lankan tourists visiting Nepal will reach 100,000 by 2013.
Around 60,000 Sri Lankan tourists had visited Nepal during Nepal Tourism Year 2011.
Sri Lanka is targeting to welcome 2.5 million tourists by 2016. The government plans to add 100 hotels with the capacity of 20,000 rooms during that period. Sri Lanka had welcomed around 800,000 tourists in 2011.
Meanwhile, the half-yearly meeting of HAD concluded in Colombo on Saturday, issuing a three-point declaration. The decision includes putting pressure on the government to construct regional international airport in Pokhara and Lumbini, requesting the government to renew the lease agreement of resorts inside Chitwan National Park and ensuring representation of HAN in the governing board of Nepal Tourism Board.
The meeting also held discussions on poor infrastructure for the tourism sector and strikes and its impact in tourism and other sector, according to the HAN statement.