Sri Lanka yesterday hosted the inauguration of the French travel agents’ SNAV congress, now referred to as Les Entreprises du Voyage (LEV), in Colombo. The event, which is happening first time in 10 years at a long-haul destination, will go on till November 5. The picture shows Tourism Minister John Amaratunga, Special Assignments Minister Sarath Amunugama and SNAV officials during the lighting of the traditional oil lamp to mark the inauguration of the event
Pic by Damith Wickremasinghe
Les Entreprises du Voyage (LEV), the French travel agents’ and tour operators’ association, yesterday committed to helping boost tourism into Sri Lanka while kicking off LEV’s annual congress, which the island nation is hosting this year.
“Our common goal is to re-establish Sri Lanka as a prime destination in the Indian Ocean for French travellers,” LEV President Jean-Pierre Mas said yesterday at the inauguration, attended by over 300 LEV members, as well as local tourism stakeholders. Mas also noted that the French travel professionals have no worry over Sri Lanka’s quality of products, safety and stability for tourism.
His endorsement comes at a time when security concerns are on the rise at popular tourism destinations across Europe and the Middle East. As a show of support from the French government, Trade, Crafts, Consumption and the Social and Solidarity Economy State Secretary Martine Pinville was also in attendance and noted that Sri Lanka is well known for its culture and attractions. While also noting the growth prospects arising from the congress, Tourism Development, Land and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga expressed his appreciation for French travellers.
“French tourists helped to keep tourism afloat during the war,” he noted.
Arrivals from France so far this year has grown by 12.9 percent year-on-year (YoY) with 76,875 tourists, while last year, 86,126 French had visited Sri Lanka, growing 9.2 percent YoY. The French market makes up around 5 percent of the total tourism market of Sri Lanka. LEV comprises of over 5,700 state-approved travel agencies and tour operators who are present across 5,000 sales points across France.