Sri Lanka Tourism to get a shot in the arm through IIFA
By Sanath Weerasuriya
The spotlight will be on Colombo when the glitter and shine of Bollywood cinema and the industry’s best arrive in Sri Lanka for the 11th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards ceremony scheduled to be held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium from 3 to 5 June.
Veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan was in Sri Lanka on Tuesday as the Brand Ambassador of IIFA to finalize the event details and to brief the media on the event.
It is reported that South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Australia and South Korea, were the other strong contenders for the venue. A twenty / 20 cricket match between Bollywood stars and Sri Lankan film and cricketing stars is also being planned during this three day mega event. The weekend events in Colombo will also include a business forum, fashion show and movie workshop.
The Bollywood legend, though he kept the media waiting for about one hour for the briefing at the Cinnamon Grand, said that of all the welcoming he had received over the past 10 years with IIFA, the reception he had received in Sri Lanka was by far the very best.
He was also very positive of the opportunities for film production available in Sri Lanka, in the current situation of peace and stability that prevails in the country. Also he mentioned in his address to the media that he was struck by the integration of the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim cultures in the welcome dance forms that he saw, which showed the people's desire to live in peace and harmony. He was also very positive on the prospects of tourism development in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Tourism Authority along with Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau made it possible for this event to be held in Colombo.
'This is a very rare and wonderful opportunity for Sri Lanka. Thanks to the prevailing peace, Sri Lanka has received international recognition. And we have a very limited time frame to do all the ground work before the event and to create the magic to be on par with or make even better than all the previous international venues,' said Duleep Mudadeniya, Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.
IIFA Colombo 2010 is expected to be attended by more than 600 Indian film industry guests and watched by 600 million TV viewers in 110 nations.
Celebrities expected to attend include famous Indian acting dynasty the Bachchans -- father Amitabh, son Abhishek and his wife, former Miss World Aishwarya Rai, Sha Rukh Khan, Kajol and other popular Indian stars.
Also present at the press briefing were Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal, former Tourism Minister Achala Jagoda, Secretary of Tourism Ministry George Michael, CEO of SriLankan Airlines Manoj Gunawardena, Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Duleep Mudadeniya, acclaimed movie stars of Sri Lanka Ravindra Randeniya and Jackson Anthony, former Miss Sri Lanka and Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez, and Joseph Sabbas of Wizcraft Enterprises International of India and the founder of IIFA.
Mr. Bachchan paid a courtesy call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the evening at the Janadhipathi Mandeeraya. President Rajapaksa said the government is keen to develop the Sri Lanka film industry and sees many possibilities of partnership with India in this regard. Mr. Bachchan was impressed by the work already done in establishing the Mahinda Rajapaksa National Tele-Cinema Park, at Tissamaharama, a brainchild of the President.