From left: AFD Country Director Martin Parent, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Deputy Mayor of Paris Jean François Martins
World Bank Operations Advisor Valérie Layrol, Deputy Mayor of Paris Jean François Martins, Colombo Mayor Rosy Senanayake and AFD Country Director Martin Parent
Deputy Mayor of Paris Jean Francois Martins visited Sri Lanka from June 5-6, to meet the senior government officials and key private sector leaders on Sri Lanka’s tourism revival strategy, following the Easter Sunday terror attacks in the country.
During the mission, the mayor met with the prime minister, tourism minister, Colombo mayor and the Cabinet Subcommittee on Tourism.
Martins is Deputy Mayor overseeing tourism for the city of Paris. He visited on the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka, to share lessons learnt from Paris’ own experience managing communications and security expectations following a series of coordinated terror attacks in the city in 2015.
In his conversations with the private sector, Martins highlighted the role played by French hoteliers and tour operators in engaging closely with travellers to support the government’s assurance of safety in Paris. He noted that tourism in Paris was able to recover rapidly from the attack’s aftermath due to a coordinated, cohesive and united communication strategy implemented jointly with the private sector.
“I express my sincere condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives on April 21,” said Martins.
“This senseless act of terror has impacted the lives of all Sri Lankans. We commend the Government of Sri Lanka’s rapid response, which prevented any further incidents.”
He also added, “Sri Lanka remains one of the most vibrant tourist destinations in the world because it is a beautiful country with resilient, hospitable people. The world already knows this. The focus should now be on effectively managing the evolving security concerns of the international community and making it known widely that Sri Lanka remains an exciting and secure destination for travellers.
After a catastrophic year post terror attacks in 2016, the French capital saw a surge in the number of visitors in the two years that followed. And last year, Paris hit a new tourist numbers record. That’s why I wanted to come with this optimistic message, the next few months will of course be complicated but with the right decisions, the country can recover.”
Martins’ visit was organised by Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) supported by the World Bank. The two organisations are expected to co-finance the proposed Sri Lanka Sustainable Tourism Development project to be implemented by the Government of Sri Lanka, focused on supporting the creation of conditions for increased private investment and sustained growth in the tourism sector.
The project design is based on a framework approach to (i) institutional and regulatory strengthening, (ii) sustainable destination development and (iii) skills development and market linkages. The project design will also include a comprehensive crisis management strategy and communication mechanism for the Government of Sri Lanka.