TAAI President Jyoti Mayal (left) and Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando exchange the MoU yesterday witnessed by Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranathunga. Others from left: SriLankan Airlines Worldwide Sales and Distribution Head Dimuthu Tennakoon, TAAI Vice President Jay Bhatia, SLAITO Immediate Past President Mahen Kariyawasam, Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi, SLAITO Vice President Nishad Wijetunga and THASL President S. Shanthikumar – Pic by Sameera Wijesinghe 


  • Sri Lanka to host 66th Travel Agents Association of India Annual Convention from 19-21 April
  • Event to draw over 500 Indian travel delegates, 50 media
  • SLTPB, SLAITO, TAAI ink tripartite agreement to promote bilateral tourism  
  • SLTPB to spend Rs. 66 m in hosting biggest post-pandemic travel convention in Colombo
  • Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga hopes decision to host event will be a turning point for SL post-pandemic
  • TAAI President Jyoti Mayal says tripartite agreement to promote tourism will be a ‘game-changer’ for India-SL
  • Points to wedding tourism as a low-hanging, $ 700 m industry SL can easily cash on
  • SL Tourism Chief Kimarli Fernando calls on industry to show unseen picturesque and unique experiences
  • SLAITO says ideal opportunity for industry to interact with Indian travel trade

By Charumini de Silva

Sri Lanka Tourism will host the biggest post-pandemic summit by hosting the Travel Agents Association of India’s (TAAI) 66th Annual Convention in mid-April drawing over 500 delegates thereby wooing more holidaymakers from the neighbouring giant market.

A tripartite agreement between Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) and TAAI was signed yesterday to host the key event with hopes of reviving the COVID-hit tourism between the two countries.

SLTPB will spend around Rs. 66 million to host the massive event that will focus on inbound tourism to Sri Lanka, outbound to India, destination promotion, MICE, wellness, religious, wedding, sports and many more travel-related opportunities the two countries have to offer.

Sri Lankan Airlines will come on board as the airline partner of the event.

TAAI has a membership of over 2,500 and a large number is expected to attend the three-day convention from 19 to 21 April in Colombo, which will also be covered by 50 international media outlets for Sri Lanka to shine on the global spotlight.  

“India is our top source market. The TAAI convention will no doubt be a massive opportunity for Sri Lanka to get global attention. Around 500 tourism delegates representing top travel associations covering all states of India are expected to attend the conference in Colombo.

I hope the decision to host the 66th TAAI Annual Convention in Colombo will be a turning point for the Sri Lanka tourism industry in the post-pandemic era,” Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told journalists yesterday.

“The Government has recognised tourism as a thrust industry in economic development and has also given an export industry status. Sri Lanka was highlighted on top global travel channels such as CNN and Lonely Planet for 2022 — capitalising on these recognition, we hope to hold more international conferences in Sri Lanka. We aspire to re-establish a new world-class tourism industry in the country,” Minister Ranatunga said.

TAAI President Jyoti Mayal said the convention will not only strengthen bilateral tourism ties but also act as a catalyst in reviving the travel industry.

“I believe a crisis brings opportunity too. We have to use the lost time and opportunities to restructure our cultural roots, strengthen our bilateral ties to move forward.

Sri Lanka has been India’s closest partner in facilitating bilateral tourism post-COVID. Both countries are at ground zero post-pandemic, but we have survived this global calamity and India and Sri Lanka will now thrive to reach the glory of tourism,” she stressed.

Noting TAAI is delighted to bring its convention back to Colombo after 16-years, Mayal said their engagement with Sri Lanka will not stop after the convention, but will be a new beginning to enhance their partnership with B2B sessions, networking, and showcase new opportunities that will allow both countries to benefit from each other’s strengths.

Although India remains the biggest tourist source market, TAAI President said that the numbers Sri Lanka has recorded are insignificant compared to its large population, whilst pointing out that the tripartite agreement to promote tourism will be a ‘game-changer’.

Transparency, strategic collaboration, simplified communication, joint marketing campaigns and common goals are some of the key aspects included in the agreement.  

Mayal also highlighted that wellness and wedding tourism are two key opportunities for Sri Lanka to grab on post-pandemic, as both sectors are high in demand.

“India is leading the wedding tourism segment which grew from just $ 163 million to $ 700 million at present. This is a great sector that Sri Lanka should cash on, as Indian weddings expands from minimum three-days to 12-days with multiple functions. Post-pandemic, destination weddings are in high demand and I can assure that Sri Lanka is ideal for it,” she said.

Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando said the TAAI convention is a great opportunity to reposition Sri Lanka.

“We have not done enough to promote Sri Lanka to Indian tourists. We have only provided a cookie cutter product till now. Indian travellers are more sophisticated, knowledgeable, price conscious and sometimes demanding too — but it is time we give a premium tailor-made product, at a good price. Sri Lanka Tourism believes industry stakeholders will take the maximum exposure by engaging with Indian travel trade,” she added.

Highlighting some of the key segments; film, water, wildlife, adventure, culture, wedding, religion, cuisine, wellness tourism, Fernando hoped that the travel industry will have equal opportunity to benefit from the TAAI conference.

She also acknowledged tourism investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.

SLAITO Immediate Past-President Mahen Kariyawasam said they were glad to partner and host the event, which will also be an ideal opportunity for the industry to interact with the Indian travel trade. 


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