(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – With the opening of the country to tourists, the Ministries of Tourism, Sports and Health will formulate a joint program to develop the sports-based tourism industry, Minister of Tourism Prasanna Rantunga said.
Accordingly, a high level committee consisting of the Secretaries of the three Ministries has been appointed to implement sports programs based on the development of the tourism industry next year.
This was discussed at length at a special discussion held at the Ministry of Tourism Monday to formulate joint programs of the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Health to open the country to tourists and to develop the tourism industry based on sports.
The discussion was jointly headed by Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi.
Representatives of hotels and service providers’ organizations involved in the tourism industry along with top officials of the three relevant Ministries were also present at the occasion.
Accordingly, international level sports competitions will be organized island wide next year to attract tourists in accordance with the health guidelines.
Sports Ministry officials said there were plans to hold 420 sports events, including school sports.
It was revealed at this meeting that with the control of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, 80 major sports competitions are to be held in the world and the focus is on getting the opportunity to hold several such tournaments in Sri Lanka.
Cricket, Football, Rugby, Kabaddi, Beach Volleyball and Netball tournaments are planned to be organized in the country.
In addition to the Asia Cup, cricket teams from England, Bangladesh, India and South Africa will tour Sri Lanka.
Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa said that the youth and sports sector was the worst affected after the Tourism Industry by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sports Minister said that with the experience gained from the Lanka Premier League Tournament currently being held with the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, the Ministries of Tourism and Sports hope to develop the tourism industry based on the integrated sports field. Minister Namal Rajapaksa said that the Ministry has already prepared an annual sports diary and will implement it with the assistance of the Ministry of Tourism in accordance with the health guidelines.
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that this was a golden opportunity to revive the tourism industry which had collapsed due to COVID-19.
The Minister pointed out the need to implement this program without being bound by rules and regulations and stressed that the government’s tourism targets could be achieved by implementing this program.
Pointing out that sports based tourism is one of the most sought after sectors in the world today, the Minister said that the government hopes to develop the tourism industry in Sri Lanka even more than it was before the spread of Covid 19.
While a high level committee consisting of the Secretaries of the Ministries of Tourism, Sports and Health was appointed to promote the sports and tourism industry, Minister Ranatunga also instructed the relevant committee to submit an action plan for the implementation of this project within two weeks.
In addition, it was decided to present a joint cabinet paper in this regard.
Minister of State V. Chanaka, Secretary to the Ministry S. Hettiarachchi, veteran cricketer Mahela Jayawardena, Chairperson of the Tourism Development Authority Kimarli Fernando, Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority Themiya Abeywickrema, representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority, airports and airlines were also present.