Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board launches a food festival
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion’s Middle East Bureau announced the launch of a food festival in conjunction with the Renaissance Hotel Dubai from April 7 to 21 designed to raise awareness about Sri Lanka and its diverse cuisine.
Destination Sri Lanka reported a major arrival of Arab travellers as Middle East Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka surged 50 per cent in January, 2010 compared to the same period last year, according to statistics compiled by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and announced by the Middle East office of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board (SLTPB).
“We are confident of the early results, and are on track to surpass figures attained last year where tourist arrivals saw a double-digit growth,” said Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of SLTPB based in Dubai.
Announcing the results, Ms. Al Mansoori confirmed that the strongest growth was registered from the UAE (up by 164%), Saudi Arabia (up by 127%), Qatar (171%), Kuwait (up by 135%) and Jordan among others. Apart from the Middle East, regions that saw a marked increase in visitors are Western and Eastern Europe, and South Asia.
“Sri Lanka is ideally positioned as a destination to attract more regional travellers despite the credit crunch as stability has finally dawned on Sri Lanka with the war coming to an end and the destination offers very good value for money,” Ms Al Mansoori remarked. “Sri Lanka is an interesting locale and peace has finally brought prosperity and development into the country and opened up more areas for tourism development which otherwise were not accessible during the war.”
Factors such as the government’s support for the tourism sector, and expansion of low-cost carrier services are also contributing to the growth of the tourism industry.
Speaking about the food promotion, Ms Al Mansoori said that chefs at Dubai’s favorite restaurant would be titillating the palates of foodies, gourmets, food connoisseurs or plain food lovers with a mouth watering array of dishes from the island paradise that is Sri Lanka. Those having a meal during the Food Festival get an opportunity to win two tickets to Colombo.
The Sri Lankan Festival is organised in cooperation with the Sri Lankan Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), and the Renaissance Dubai Hotel.
His Excellency Wasantha Senanayake, Consul General of the Sri Lankan Consulate, Ms. Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori, Director for the Middle East of Sri Lankan Tourism Promotion Bureau, Shiran Perera,UAE Manager of Sri Lankan Airlins and Executive Chef Amgad Zaki spoke on tourist attractions in the island and Sri Lankan food. The panel members answered questions from the Press.
Ms. Al Mansoori, invited journalists and the public to sample Sri Lankan cuisine prepared by the award winning chefs of Spice Island. “The paradise island that is Sri Lanka boasts an amazing variety of food and styles of cooking. The island has a rich heritage of indigenous dishes and its regional cooking is strongly individual and varied,” she said.
Ms. Mansoori added that the Sri Lankan Food Festival was an excellent way of showcasing Sri Lanka’s attractions to the clientele of the restaurant.
Sri Lankans, who are following the lunar calendar, are celebrating the New Year in April. The Sri Lankan Chefs of Spice Island will feature delicious Hoppers and String Hoppers, Fish Ambulthiyal, Devilled Potato, Seeni Sambol and Kuttu Roti. There will also be Watatalapam, Rulang Dhosi. The promotion also features the desserts of Chef Achala Weerasinghe, a native of Sri Lanka’. He will be presenting his personal favorites such as Watatalapam, Rulang Dhosi, Sweet pumpkin pudding, milk toffee and other sumptuous desserts.
“We are happy to celebrate the Sri Lankan New Year through our Sri Lankan Food promotion. After last year's successful collaboration, we are delighted to partner once again with the SLTPB and Sri Lankan airlines to bring the promotion to greater heights,” Executive Chef Amgaz Zaki said.
“Our award winning Sri Lankan culinary team led by our Sous Chef Chandana Kathriarachchi including Pastry Chef Weerasinghe who is fresh from winning the Best Pastry Chef of the Year at the Salon Culinaire for two straight years will be preparing an exciting line-up of rich and spicy food Sri Lankan cuisine such as the distinctive curry, an authentic and memorable Sri Lankan experience,.
Ms. Al Mansoori added: “Cultural attractions, entertainment, shopping, and dining are some of the factors that draw modern day Arab travellers to their preferred destinations and Sri Lanka offers a good product that scores on all counts and is less than four hours flying time away from the Gulf.”
The Middle East has outperformed all other regions of the world, by becoming the fastest growing source market for Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka is one of the best kept secrets in the world as a travel destination, especially for Middle East travellers. The food is exotic and wonderful, the people are gracious and friendly, the accommodation options are first rate and many of the sights are unparalleled anywhere in the world,” said Ms. Al Mansoori.
Mr. Shiran Perera, UAE Manager of Sri Lankan Airlines said “Avail this opportunity to win two tickets to Colombo when you dine during the Sri Lankan Food festival, at the Spice Island. Sri Lanka now a top destination in the world is,just four hours away from UAE, will be a wonderful weekend break. Sri Lankan Airlines fly daily to Colombo from Dubai and Abu Dhabi,
SLTPB’s Middle East office is responsible for all tourism promotional activities in the Arab markets including exhibition participation, marketing visits, presentations and road shows, advertising, brochure distribution, public relations, as well as familiarization visits to the island for influential business and travel journalists.