Japan Association for Travel Agents (JATA) President Akira Kanai and the Executive Committee arrived in Sri Lanka over the weekend on a familiarisation tour.
The delegation comprising 25 members will remain on the island until 16 November. During the visit, the delegation is expected to visit Colombo, Pinnawela, Kandy, Dambulla, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa.
The delegation comprises of the heads of leading travel companies in Japan.
JATA’s familiarisation visit is happening as result of the joint efforts made by Sri Lanka Tourism, SriLankan Airlines and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Tokyo.
Sri Lanka Tourism has made the logistical arrangements for the visit jointly with Sri Lankan Airlines, SLAITO and THASL.
Sri Lanka Tourism considers the visit of the JATA Executive members as a major landmark of Japanese visitor promotions since the JATA Executive Committee is the most influential body of Japanese outbound travel.
The objective of the visit is to allow JATA members to familiarise themselves with Sri Lankan tourist products and to send a positive message to the travel trade in Japan on the products.
Previously, the former President of JATA paid a visit on an invitation extended by Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism. Sri Lanka Tourism is expecting to further develop the relationship between the travel trade in Japan and Sri Lanka through extended PR activities.
More importantly, the Executive Committee’s visit is happening at a time when Sri Lanka Tourism is implementing a focused marketing programme in the Japan market with the assistance of the Government of Japan.
In July last year Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa and External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris during a visit to Japan met with JATA Chief Akira Kanai.
At the meeting, the Sri Lankan Ministers noted that the Sri Lanka Tourism Authority was now concentrating on new areas of interest for tourists visiting Sri Lanka, which are mainly eco-tourism, religious tourism and certain specialised areas such as ayurveda.
The Ministers also emphasised that since the UK and US travel advisories on Sri Lanka had now been relaxed, they wished to invite a team of JATA officials to visit Sri Lanka and experience firsthand the present situation. They also requested the visiting team to give any advice on areas that require improvement in the tourism sector.