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The Embassy of Sri Lanka to the United States in collaboration with Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), hosted a dinner reception for the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) on 11th June 2024 at the Embassy premises in Washington D.C., promoting Sri Lanka as a key tourist destination among the USTOA members.

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Ambassador Mahinda Samarasinghe, in his welcome address, highlighted the strong bonds of friendship that exist between Sri Lanka and the United States. He traced the relationship back two centuries which predated the establishment of formal bilateral diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the newly independent Ceylon in 1948. He said that 75 years of relations was marked in 2023 and that friendly relations were growing ever-closer encompassing many fields of cooperation. The Ambassador emphasized the turnaround in Sri Lanka’s economic fortunes over the past two years that had been achieved, leading to the stabilization of the economy. Many factors such as tourism, inward remittances and economic reform initiatives have contributed to the recovery of the economy and that Sri Lanka was ready to welcome tourists whose visits would further contribute to growth – which, it is anticipated, could record 3% by the end of the year.  He encouraged the U.S. Tour Operators to recommend Sri Lanka to their customers. He requested them to partake of the unique and authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, world renowned Sri Lankan tea, and enjoy the multifaceted Sri Lankan cultural performances showcasing the rich diversity of attractions that Sri Lanka has to share with the rest of the world.

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President & CEO of the USTOA, Terry Dale, in his remarks, while thanking the Ambassador forhosting the unique event in the fabulous settling of the Embassy garden, assured that they will partnerwith the Embassy to spread the story about Sri Lanka not only among USTOA members but also among the USTOA customers as well.

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Minister (Commercial), Charitha Yattogoda of the Mission ran a detailed presentation for the audience briefing them about tourism prospects available in the country highlighting the ever growing demand among US tourists to visit Sri Lanka. Additionally, he invited the attendees to undertake familiarization visits to Sri Lanka, that the Embassy could facilitate arranging, in association with the SLTPB, to explore available tourist promotional opportunities in the country for the US traveler.

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The Embassy showcased the main tourist attractions of the country through a vivid photographic exhibition of colorful photographs depicting the ancient cultural heritage, natural beauty with a special emphasis on wild life and the people of Sri Lanka, presented by courtesy of the  "America - Sri Lanka Photographic Art Society Los Angeles" and the SLTPB. Tourist-oriented videos portraying pristine beaches, and green mountain landscapes were screened at the event, highlighting Sri Lanka wide ranging tourism-related activities from adventure and wellness to wildlife and cultural wonders.

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The talents of the troupe of "Ceylon Bera" enthralled the crowd with the rhythms of Sri Lanka accompanied by instrumental music. A traditional dance recital showcased the talents of “Lanka Dance Academy” directed by Lanka Mudannayake, which captivated the attendees. Dances in both up-country and low-country styles that depicted Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage were performed. A Bharathanatyam dance performance that depicted the culture of the Tamil community along with other traditional dancing forms from the Southern part of the country was performed by the Achila Perera and her team which emphasized the vibrant diversity of Sri Lankan culture.

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Attendees were treated to a sumptuous dinner buffet of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine with flavours of Ceylon spices especially prepared by a reputed Sri Lankan restaurant “ Sigiri”  offering live stations serving fresh Sri Lankan hoppers, kottu roti and other unique delicacies, that were well received by the attendees.

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The Embassy also made arrangements to serve all the visitors freshly brewed hot and iced Ceylon tea sponsored by Basilur (Sri Lanka) and QTrade Teas & Herbs (California, USA) at  a specially set up tea corner that enabled the visitors to enjoy different types of tea. The total expenses relating to the event was borne by the SLTPB.

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This event was held as a welcome reception on the sidelines of the 12th USTOA Congressional Caucus for visiting USTOA members from different parts of the country to Washington DC to lobby the elected US Congressmen and Senators on Capitol Hill about the priorities and needs of the US tourism industry. The event concluded very successfully creating positive image about the country among the USTOA members.

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USTOA is a professional, voluntary trade association founded in 1972 with the primary objective of promoting integrity within the tour operator industry by representing the overall interests of the US tour operators and became a national organization with headquarters in New York in 1975. The USTOA which currently has 49 corporate members and 765 Associate members that represent 143 US tour operator’s brands accounting for annual combined revenue of over US$ 16 Bn.

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Embassy of Sri Lanka

Washington D.C.       


13th June 2024

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