“As much as we need foreign currency, we also need more friendship with Chinese people”
Sri Lanka is set to receive its first group of post-pandemic Chinese tourists after becoming one of the first 20 countries to resume the organization of outbound group tourists from China since COVID-19.
Their flight will depart from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport on March 3.
“We are expecting Chinese tourists to come back soon, but their particular interest has been to countries closer to China,” Anura Fernando, the consul general of Sri Lanka in Shanghai, said during an interview with China Daily about the country’s eagerness to receive more tourists from China.
As soon as the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced the decision to allow travel agencies to resume booking groups to travel to 20 countries and regions on Feb 6, the Sri Lanka consul general began to work closely with travel agencies and other partners to reopen direct flights between Shanghai and Colombo, its capital city.
With its tropical climate, as well as rich and diverse cultural heritage, Sri Lanka has been a popular destination for holidaymakers from around the world. In 2018, the country received a record number of 280,000 tourists from China.
“Since most Chinese haven’t traveled out of the country for three years, they are looking at closer destinations,” he says, adding “but I think Sri Lanka should be attractive to most Chinese tourists”.
He notes that the rich heritage of Buddhist culture, tea plantations, gem stones, as well as its natural beauty and water activities, are all appealing for Chinese tourists. Now that the pandemic is over, and Sri Lanka has emerged from the economic crisis, Fernando hopes that “this year tourists’ numbers will increase to about 1 million”.
China is the biggest trading partner of Sri Lanka and the largest source of foreign investments. With the signing of a free trade agreement expected to be made this year, Fernando believes the trade volume will increase between the two countries.
One of the first countries involved in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Sri Lanka has witnessed major projects constructed by China, such as the Port City in Colombo that kicked off in 2014. The construction process was slowed down because of the pandemic, and now that the Chinese workers are returning, he says the construction has restarted, with a new international financial center expected to be completed in the coming two years when it will start functioning.
Sri Lanka has a large Chinese community so “Chinese tourists are very much at home”, with Chinese restaurants and Chinese-speaking tour guides.
“We have a lot of cultural bonding,” Fernando says. “As much as we need the foreign currency, we also need more friendship with the Chinese people”.
From the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in 1973, to the Lotus Tower unveiled in 2019, China has helped construct monumental structures in Sri Lanka, which are evidence of the close ties between the two countries. This year marks the 20th anniversary of “sister cities” ties between Shanghai and Colombo, and the consul general hopes more cultural, tourism and business communication could enhance the friendship between Chinese and Sri Lankan people.
Laugfs Gas prices to remain unchanged too
LAUGFS Gas PLC has also decided not to revise the prices of domestic LP gas cylinders for the month of February 2024.
Accordingly, the current prices are as follows:
12.5kg cylinder – Rs. 4,740
5kg cylinder – Rs. 1,900
The announcement comes hours after Litro Gas Lanka stating that they will not revise gas prices this month.
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Actress and model Poonam Pandey has passed away last night (Feb. 01) due to cervical cancer at the age of 32, according to her team who posted the news of her death on her Instagram handle.
Poonam made her feature film debut with Nasha, an erotic drama that was released in 2013. She made cameo appearances in films such as Love Is Poison (Kannada) and Aa Gaya Hero (Hindi). The actress also headlined the Telugu movie Malini & Co and The Journey of Karma.
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Japan confers honour to Dharshan Munidasa
Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka – Mr. Mizukoshi Hideaki yesterday (Jan. 30) conferred “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays” on Mr. Dharshan Munidasa, CEO and owner of the restaurant “Nihonbashi”, in recognition of his distinguished contribution to promoting Japanese cuisine in Sri Lanka.
Since the establishment of his renowned Japanese restaurant “Nihonbashi” in 1995, Mr. Dharshan Munidasa has been a trailblazer in introducing the intricacies of Japanese gastronomy to the Sri Lankan palate. Through his dedication to sourcing the highest quality Japanese ingredients and his commitment to upholding traditional Japanese culinary techniques, Mr. Munidasa has elevated the dining experience for patrons, furthering the cultural exchange between Japan and Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Mizukoshi commended Mr. Munidasa not only for managing a Japanese restaurant but also for his longstanding contributions to the understanding, promotion, and dissemination of Japanese cuisine and culture, including “washoku,” recognized as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, both within and outside Sri Lanka. Additionally, as part of recent initiatives, Ambassador Mizukoshi highlighted Mr. Munidasa’s efforts in serving traditional home-cooked Japanese dishes at the Bon Odori festival, a cultural event of Japan held in Maharagama two years in a row, providing many Sri Lankan festival-goers with an opportunity to experience Japanese cuisine.
“The Order of the Rising Sun” is awarded by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan to foreign nationals who have made distinguished contributions to enhancing friendly relations with Japan and it is hoped that this auspicious event would further develop the bilateral relationship between Japan and Sri Lanka.
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