EU Ambassadors meet with Minister of Tourism to affirm commitment to Sri Lankan Tourism
In the spirit of Team Europe, the Ambassador of the European Union (EU) together with Ambassadors of EU Member States (Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden) met with Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Tourism and Lands, to reiterate their full support to revivethe tourism sector in Sri Lanka.
The tourism industry is the third largest foreign exchange earner for the country and contributes 12.6% to its economy, with the EU market bringing in 44% of tourists. But Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has suffered multiple crises since 2019, and this has had ripple effects affecting the entire country and its people. It is hence a priority of the Government to rebuild a vibrant and sustainable tourism sector.
Recognizing the importance of tourism to bring in much-needed forex, the EU contributes Euro 7.2 millionin grants (approximately LKR 2.8 billion) to support the sector on multiple fronts, including promotion of wellness, biodiversity, exploration and culture. The EU funded projects will also help diversifyingthe tourism offer in an inclusive mannerin order to assist in building a stronger and competitivesector able to increase revenues.The projects will reach out to rural communities and contribute to local economies, thereby spreading the benefits of tourism, leaving no one behind.A key element of this support will be the development of skills for those active in tourism.
During the meeting, Hon. Minister Harin Fernando stated that Europe has been the traditional tourist-generating market for Sri Lanka. The United Kingdom and Germany followed by France have indicated marginal increases during the month of January 2023. He stated that other markets too will register improved performances during 2023. Whilst the support extended by all ambassadors of the EU countries in the recent past is greatly appreciated, Hon. Minister Fernando states that he is confident of support in the coming months enabling tourism to make a positive contribution to economic revival.
Noting the importance of global trends vis-à-vis the inherent potential of Sri Lanka to position itself to attract the environmentally and socially conscious traveler, EU Ambassador, H.E., Denis Chaibi stated, “EU Member States Ambassadors and I are keen to support Sri Lanka in making a green economic recovery, with social inclusion and poverty reduction at the heart of our support to the tourism industry”.
The EU has provided around Euro 1 billion (approximately LKR390 billion) of assistance in Sri Lanka so far, through a variety of bilateral, regional, and global programmes in different sectors. Our financial support is based on the country’s policies and priorities, as well as EU strategic interests and values.