Global travel body meets in Colombo in aid of Sri Lanka’s recovery

Train on the Nine Arch Bridge, Sri Lanka

An international body of travel agents, the Universal Federation of Travel Agents Associations (UFTAA), has announced plans to hold its next meeting in Sri Lanka to support the destination which took a devastating hit in the wake of last month’s Easter Sunday attacks.

UFTAA president Sunil Kumar Rumalla told reporters in Colombo last Friday: “UFTAA board member, Trevor Rajaratnam, appealed to us to try and look at Sri Lanka as a destination for our next immediate event which is normally held in August (in another country).”

UFTAA’s meeting wants to show that Sri Lanka is ready to receive tourists; train on the Nine Arch Bridge pictured

Rajaratnam, who is also the president of the Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka, told TTG Asia that he was preparing a formal letter address to UFTAA’s board of directions to look into meeting earlier in Colombo in June or July. Some 100 tourism leaders and experts from 30 countries are expect to attend.

Rumalla also informed reporters that the event was fast-tracked by a month or so as it could “serve as a message to the whole world that a global body of tourism experts and leaders is present in Sri Lanka”.

He added UFTAA is committed to supporting Sri Lanka, similar to its support of Turkey to rebuild confidence in the country in the aftermath of terrorist attacks there three years ago.

“We are very keen to see that this most wonderful country is brought back to normalcy as soon as possible,” Rumalla shared.

In the meantime, Emirates and SriLankan Airlines have pledged their support to facilitate the UFTAA mid-year forum by offering concessionary airfare to delegates coming to Sri Lanka. Hotels are also expected to offer concessionary rates for foreign delegates attending the forum.

UFTAA is also considering holding an event at one of the affected hotels on Easter Sunday. More than 250 people including 40 tourists died in the attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo. Two of the hotels are have reopened, but a third hotel, the Shangri-La Colombo, has yet to reopen.

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