- Initiative to explore future tourism opportunities
Adding a new chapter to the civil aviation history in Sri Lanka, the Jaffna International Airport was declared open on 17 October. The officials and stakeholders of the Tourism industry visited the Jaffna International Airport to explore future tourism opportunities with Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga last week.
As an island nation, Sri Lanka depends very heavily on air access. At a time where the focus is on maintaining current lights and increasing current route capacity and frequency, the opening of the Jaffna International Airport opens up new opportunities for international/domestic air travel connectivity, which contributes to sustainable development, facilitation of tourism and trade, economic growth and employment opportunities around the area.
“The opening of the Jaffna International Airport is no doubt a watershed event in the resurgence of the Northern Province as an economic hub of the region.
Visitors to the north no longer need to spend 7 to 8 hours on the road to get there from the Katunayake airport, as they can now directly fly into Jaffna.
The immediate and direct beneficiary of this development will be the tourism industry. No doubt it will open up new avenues and new horizons for the people of the North to engage in the tourism sector and benefit from its commercial dividends.
“The economic development that will accrue from this pioneering initiative of the Government will go directly to the people of the North. Therefore I’m happy that the Government has delivered on its promise to usher in economic prosperity to the Northern region,” shared Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga.
Apart from this, in order to train more students in the hospitality sector in Jaffna, SLITHM is looking into establishing a Hotel School, and initial discussions were held during this visit. SLTDA is set to launch an extensive awareness campaign on the attractions of the Northern area for the locals in order to boost domestic tourism.
“The opening of the Jaffna International Airport not only eases accessibility for domestic and international visitors to the Northern part, but also opens up new opportunities for investors in the Jaffna Peninsula. At a time where the Tourism Development Authority is focusing on developing the Infrastructure for Tourism in this area, we would like to extend a cordial invitation to interested investors to invest in the region,” SLTDA Director General Upali Ratnayake shared.
“Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) is pleased to note the establishment of the new Jaffna international Airport. This will pave the way for Indian tourist traffic to the northern district of Sri Lanka, where we have many interesting places to visit, including the religious sites. We look forward to promoting this airport,” SLAITO President Mahen Kariyawasam shared.
Tourism Development Minister Amaratunga, representatives of the State Minister, veterans from the tourism industry, officials from Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM), Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) and other stakeholders, namely, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), The Hotel Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), Colombo City Hotels Association (CCHA), National Association for Professionals in Tourism (NAPT), Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET), and Tourist Drivers Associations (NTDA) participated in this visit.
Flight operations of the Jaffna International Airport are due to commence from November 2019.