Sri Lanka and Thailand to promote bilateral tourism | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka and Thailand to promote bilateral tourism

Minister John Amaratunga meeting with Executive Committee of the Thai Chamber of Commerce headed by its President, Kalin Sarasin
Minister John Amaratunga meeting with Executive Committee of the Thai Chamber of Commerce headed by its President, Kalin Sarasin

A delegation from Sri Lanka headed by Minister of Tourism Development and Wildlife, John Amaratunga visited Thailand and held a series of meetings with key officials to promote bilateral tourism between the two predominantly Buddhist nations. The special focus of these meetings was to promote Sri Lanka’s Buddhist sites among Thai tourists.

Kicking off the promotional program Minister Amaratunga met the Executive Committee of the Thai Chamber of Commerce headed by its President, Kalin Sarasin.

The matters discussed included developing air connectivity and creating more awareness about Sri Lanka’s tourism attractions. The Thai Chamber of Commerce agreed to promote Sri Lanka vigorously while also exploring opportunities in infrastructure development projects including port operations and cruise operations. Development of the Wellness Tourism sector in Sri Lanka was another key area.

Minister Amaratunga also met President of the Young Buddhist Association of Thailand, Montian Thananart. The Association functions under Royal patronage. The discussion centered on promoting the Buddhist Trail in Sri Lanka and to double the current number of arrivals during the course of the year.

During the meeting it was revealed that a young group of pilgrims are already on their way to Sri Lanka on a fact finding mission. Minister Amaratunga promised to extend support and assistance to make this mission a success. They also showed keen interest in Buddhist education programs conducted by the Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy which is under the management of the Sri Dalada Maligawa – Kandy.

At present 45,000 Thai nationals travel to Buddhist countries for meditation and retreat programs annually. The Young Buddhist Association of Thailand will join hands with Sri Lanka Tourism to influence Buddhist travellers to visit Sri Lanka for meditation. The Minister also invited the Association to host their annual conventions and meetings in Sri Lanka. The Minister agreed to establish a Buddhist Information centre for the benefit of such travellers. Minister Amaratunga and delegation also met Ven. Fra Anil Sakya, the rector of World Buddhist University, the largest Virtual Buddhist University that has institutions located around the globe conducting Buddhist academic studies. The Thera is considered the most influential Buddhist personality in Thailand that binds with the Royal Family, Government and people of Thailand.

Minister Amaratunga said that the three-hour meeting with the Thera was very fruitful and mutually beneficial to both Sri Lanka and Thailand. The Thera had said that he will organize a special two day Sri Lanka Promotion in Thailand in association with all stakeholders. Minister Amaratunga had thanked the Ven. Thera for his whole hearted support for promoting tourism and had invited him to hold the next International Buddhist Convention in Sri Lanka.

Theravada Buddhism in Thailand is now known as Lankavamsa. This is because 700 years ago, King Ramkhamhaeng of Thailand had requested senior monks from Sri Lanka to come to his country and teach their views of Buddhism, which led to the birth of Lankavamsa in Thailand. 

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