Sri Lanka Tourism (S.L.T.) plans to market its annual spice festival overseas, an official told reporters on Friday.
The war may probably have had been a constraining factor in the past to market the same abroad, S.L.T. Director Upali de Silva said.
This festival, sponsored by HSBC, will be held over 12 days beginning on July 14.
A feature at this event is that hawker street, an outdoor affair, will be held over three days, and not one, as was in the past. It will be held down Greenpath, Colombo.
HSBC C.E.O. Nick Nicolaou said that the bank’s sponsorship of this event started since 2005 was not about making money for the bank, but the exposure it would gain through this event, particularly to its credit card business, the largest provider of such a service in the island. HSBC credit cardholders are in for discounts ranging from 50-100% during this period.
With international chefs also participating in this festival and the global flavour that comes with it, complements the fact that HSBC is a global bank, he added.
Nicolau described this festival as the country’s largest culinary extravaganza.
S.L.T. Director General S. Kalaiselvam in his speech said that it was the lure of spices that brought the European invaders to Sri Lanka. He further said that in the first five months of the year tourism arrivals to the country increased by 50% year on year (y.o.y.). If this trend continues, the island will be in for a record 600,000 arrivals this year, beating the previous record of 550,000 established in 2004.
He told this newspaper that the “Rama Trail” popularized by S.L.T. has attracted Hindus from Malaysia to the island. He saw no reason why this “advertisement” would also not attract Singaporean Indians, who are also largely Hindus.
Kaliaselvam further said that he expected arrivals to increase by 10% y.o.y. next month due to the Esala Perahera.