The month of May 2016, marks a golden milestone for Sri Lanka Tourism with the grand celebration of its 50th anniversary.
Earlier referred to as the Ceylon Tourist Board, was the official government body responsible for all tourism related activities and development within the country.
The Ceylon Tourist Board was established on the 2nd of May 1966 by Tourism Act No. 10 of 1966. It is now branched into four institutions namely Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism &Hotel Management (SLITHM) and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB).
Sri Lanka Tourism has initiated a series of activities to celebrate this historic occasion. An attractive logo which depicts the various tourist attractions of Sri Lanka was launched in March powering a more meaningful beginning to this event. The grand celebrations will draw the attention of both local and global tourism enthusiasts bringing a strong word of mouth to Brand Sri Lanka. Amongst the planned activities, 50 foreign nationals already in the country talks about Sri Lanka and it has grabbed the attention of many tourism lovers in the Sri Lankan Tourism industry. These videos will be released to the social media channels at the inaugural ceremony which will be held on the 27th of May 2016 at the main hall of the BMICH with the participation of the four institutions.
Along with the celebrations a commemorative volume, a commemorative stamp and a video film on the 50-year history of the industry will be launched at the national ceremony. Individuals who have contributed to the development and growth of the tourism industry throughout the years will be felicitated as Legends of Tourism along with appreciation awards for long service staff members of the institutions at this event. The Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Executive Director of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) are expected to attend the official ceremony on May 27.
This event will be followed by a National Exhibition of Artefacts in Tourism which will showcase important milestones of Sri Lanka Tourism since its establishment in 1966. The exhibition will take place from 27th of May to 29th of May. Sri Lanka Tourism has already conducted a series of competitions for children and adults in parallel to this Golden Jubilee Celebrations. A stamp will be issued at the main celebration platform. The prizes for the children essay, arts competition and photo and videography competitions will also be presented on the same stage. A number of social media competitions are also being promoted to coincide with the 50th anniversary celebrations such as 50 best experiences of Sri Lanka and 50 best food of Sri Lanka.
Other events at the BMICH premises from 27th to 29th May include exhibition on memories of 50 years of Sri Lanka Tourism, exhibitions of cultural heritage, gem & jewellery, Sri Lankan handicrafts, wildlife conservation, zoological & botanical gardens and Ceylon Tea by relevant government organizations, Sancharaka Udawa – Exhibition of Tourism products meet mart in Sri Lanka organised by Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators. A Home Stay village showcasing rural tourism activities and cultural shows presented by the armed forces.
Over the years various highly regarded professionals led each of these institutions together with the devoted team at Sri Lanka Tourism to achieve the targets and goals in the Sri Lankan tourism industry. Accounting only 18,969 tourist arrivals in the year 1966, Sri Lanka Tourism industry has progressed dramatically over five decades to receive an all-time high of 1.8 million annual tourist arrivals at the end of the year 2015. Previous year total arrivals showed a 17.8 percent year on year growth and that will be expected to continually improve over the upcoming years by financially strengthening the nation. Further, over the next several years Sri Lanka Tourism will focus on sustainable tourism development by improving the stability between the tourism related commercial development with a natural & sociocultural uplift. With this positive vision towards the future of the tourism industry, Sri Lanka Tourism is heading towards new challenges with the accomplishment of continued progress, regardless of the rising competition in the global tourism sector.