“No sooner our Motherland was united under our national flag; I invited all who had left the country because of terrorism to return home. Today, I invite visitors from abroad to come to our wonderful country to enjoy its charm and the hospitality of our people.
This is a momentous phase for the Tourism Industry. With terrorism defeated after three decades, our people can now travel freely in our motherland. Tourists should have no fear to visit our attractions. And, I believe, we have ended the need for Travel Advisories that crippled Tourism.
We can now fully use the assets of nature, history and culture for Tourism, to restore its contribution to development.
As we have assisted the Tourism Industry through its most difficult period, I now assure the industry of every effort and all resources to meet a target of 2.5 million tourists by 2016.
While developing Hambantota, Kalpitiya and Arugam Bay as major tourist resorts, we can now add Passikudah and Trincomalee, up to Kokilai Lagoon in the East, and many locations in the North too, as part of the Uthuru Vasanthaya – the development agenda for the North.
Tourist ventures must draw their strength from and contribute to the communities around them. Tourism must move to new opportunities with the people as its partners.
The Tourism Industry also has a major role as custodians of our environment, assets of nature, and traditions of our people. They must not be subordinate to the search for profit.
The launch of the new image for Sri Lanka Tourism comes when the entire island is open for tourists, to discover and enjoy the marvels of history, diversities of culture, and friendship and tolerance of our people.
I trust the new direction of Sri Lanka Tourism will position Sri Lanka as a premier tourist destination of Asia.
I think it is time now for us to Think Big of the many great attractions we have.
We are large in the diversity of attractions to offer.
We are a Nation with a great history. Our achievements in engineering, architecture and art are great. Our land has such variety in the attractions of nature.
Strengthened by our great past, the successes of the present, and promises of the future, I am pleased to launch to the world our new image, to promote our beautiful country, with its history going back into the mists of time. It is the new miracle that will soon be felt throughout the world.
Our commitment to developing tourism shall also be Maathrubhumi First, Second, Third … the true miracle of success.
Extending the warmest welcome to tourists to Sri Lanka, I am pleased to announce our decision to declare the Year 2011 as “Visit Sri Lanka Year”.