With the festive season just around the corner, elaborate plans are being made to transform the city of Colombo into a tourism wonderland from December 20 to 23 this year.
Sri Lanka Tourism under the guidance of the Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Ministry is planning the second edition of Tourism Fest, which took the city by storm last December. The idea behind this unique event is to portray Sri Lankan food, culture, gems, handicrafts, tea, shopping and entertainment at one venue during the height of the tourist season. According to sources at Sri Lanka Tourism, this year’s Tourism Fest will be a bigger and better version of last year.
Tourism Fest 2016 will be declared open by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Tourism Development, Christian Religious Affairs and Lands Minister John Amaratunga on December 20, while President Maithripala Sirisena will preside at the closing ceremony on December 23, at the Independence Arcade in Colombo, which is the venue for the four-day event. A host of VIPs and diplomatic community are expected to visit the fest during the four-day event.
Tourism Fest is a concept of Amaratunga who having realized the absence of any organised tourism-related event during the festive season when the city hotels are filled with foreign tourists, decided to organise a multi-day event bringing together all tourism stakeholders. The event is complemented with nonstop entertainment by armed forces bands, choral groups and cultural shows providing both local and foreign tourists a memorable experience.
Meanwhile, in order to enliven the ambience in the city, the Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Ministry has requested the corporate sector to light up their buildings during the festive season. As a result, Colombo is expected to dazzle during Tourism Fest 2016 creating a lively atmosphere that will rival the trendiest cities in this part of the world.
“My intention is to organise calendar-based events so that thevisitors to the country will know that there is plenty of entertainment during their visit. I have heard many tourists complaining that there is not much to do when the sun sets in the city. Events of this nature will provide much-needed entertainment for tourists while also promoting our tourist attractions,” said Amaratunga explaining the rationale for Tourism Fest 2016. Among the entertainment acts billed to perform during the four-day fest are the Army, Air force and Police Bands, various choirs singing Christmas carols, groups conducting nativity plays and various cultural shows. A fireworks display is set to dazzle the environs of Independence Square while a special kiddies’ entertainment area will keep the youngsters thoroughly entertained while the adults grab bargains at the shopping bazaar featuring some of the best-known global brands.
To add spice to the proceedings, Tourism Fest will feature food and beverage stalls by leading hotels and restaurants in Colombo with live demonstrations of different cuisines giving visitors an opportunity to learn and experience the culinary aspects of Sri Lanka. The international cuisine on offer will include Mongolian, Arabic, Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, Korean, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Indonesian and specialty desserts at a nominal rate. In addition, the Sri Lanka Tea Board will feature a tea tasting centre with a display of the many varieties of tea available in the island.
One of the main attractions for tourists will be an exposition of Sri Lankan culture and heritage presented by the Central Cultural Fund showcasing photographs, artefacts, replicas and books. The Gem and Jewellery Authority will also be organising an exhibition on Sri Lankan gems with a sales outlet as well. The Zoological Department and Wildlife Department will have exhibitions on the wildlife and zoological gardens of Sri Lanka. It will be a unique experience for those interested in wildlife.
A special double-decker shuttle bus service organised by Colombo City Tour will be available from selected Colombo hotels daily to and from the venue with live carols onboard.
Tourism Fest 2016 will create a Sri Lankan sense of celebration and spread the spirit of the season among locals, tourists, the diplomatic and expat communities while providing a unique platform for tourism promotion.