The 37th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of The Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) was held on 25th August 2017 in the presence of over 200 attendees. Harith Perera (Managing Director – Hemas Travel Cluster) was appointed as Incoming President of SLAITO 2017 /2018 on the occasion. Hosted by Anantara Kalutara Resort, which opened the gates of its beautiful resort and warm hospitality to welcome SLAITO members, the AGM concluded successfully followed by a gala dinner.
At the AGM, the following office bearers were appointed,
• Mr. Harith Perera – President
• Mr. Nalin Jayasundera – Vice President
• Ms. Gayangi Wirasinha - Hony. Treasurer
• Ms. Nushani Ediriweera - Hony. Secretary
• Mr. Devindre Senaratne - Immediate Past President
Commenting on his appointment, Harith Perera said, “It is a great personal honour to be appointed Incoming President of SLAITO 2017/18. I would like to thank the immediate past president Devindre Senaratne for his contribution. In preparation for this new role, I have consulted with past presidents and office bearers of SLAITO about the challenges that face the industry and our members and the path forward. I am committed to making a significant contribution to have a beneficial impact on SLAITO members.”
Elaborating further, the incoming President mentioned strong focus on proposed destination promotions through Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board (SLTPB); the need to restructure Sancharaka Udawa to be a more sustainable and meaningful venture; initiate a CSR project; appoint a fully dedicated company for public relations and lobbying objectives of SLAITO; and to develop a road map for joint collaboration between The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and SALITO.
Commenting on new initiatives, he proposes relooking at services to cater to the changing needs of the new tourist; attracting/training new staff; enhancing efficiency and sustainability of sites; and developing a sound relationship with line ministries through the Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs.
Delivering a speech on the occasion, Guest Speaker Udaya Nanayakkara – Chairman of SLTPB commended SLAITO members for their contribution and praised the tourism minister for his unstinted support to the industry. He went on to stress the importance of creating windows of opportunity by boosting tourism and simultaneously attracting investors as a form of business tourism. He noted that SLAITO has come a long way and commended the SLAITO Board for its proactive approach.
The Guest of Honour at the AGM, Dr. Harsha De Silva - Deputy Minister National Policies & Economic Affairs, delivered an insightful, statistical and thought provoking address while elaborating on creating the most viable economic environment to foster the growth of tourism in SL. “We need variety in our tourism and need to create and build the necessary eco system to grow the tourism industry. We must utilize opportunities wisely in order to have a long and sustainable future in this industry. Our tourism sector is an avenue to increase investment and incomes and to enhance employment and entrepreneurship. We must establish a balance to create development and implement policies to create wealth. The need of the hour is to target the right audience and capture the right market to get our message through. This industry is changing and evolving; we need to move with the times.”
The Chief Guest on the occasion, Hon. John Amaratunga – Minister of Tourism Development & Christian Religious Affairs congratulated the newly-appointed SLAITO committee and incoming President. In his speech, he noted the recent challenges faced by the industry due to natural calamities, while assuring those present that his ministry is doing everything in its power to improve the situation with SLAITO’s support.
As the apex body for in-bound tourism and established to promote and foster the rapid and long term growth of tourism in Sri Lanka by providing and maintaining a high standard of excellence in the services provided for the comfort and convenience of the tourist in all aspects, the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) champions industry causes.