Several initiatives unveiled to promote tourism in Northern Province
With tourism revival plans underway to revive local and international tourism in the Northern Province comprising the districts of Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, and Mannar, and the 7 islands of Delft, Kayts, Karaitivu, Nainativu, Eluvaitivu, Punkudutivu, and Analaitivu under the ‘REAL NORTH’ several tourism promotion initiatives have been rolled out by the Northern Province Tourism Bureau (NPTB), which comes under the Ministry of Local Government of the Northern Provincial Council.
Although the NPTB has been in existence since 2018, the ‘REAL NORTH’ Programme will see a well-coordinated, multi-pronged approach to develop the tourism potential of the Northern Province. It will be supported by the participation and involvement of domestic and international air travel services, Destination Management Companies, train services, airlines, ferry service operators, infrastructure developers etc.
It will be supported by a promotion and marketing campaign locally and internationally to achieve the NPTB’s vision to be recognised as the best regional destination for diverse, authentic and untouched experiences, while uplifting the sustainable socio-economic condition of the Northern Province. Each district in the Northern Province has beenre-branded as -‘REAL JAFFNA”, REAL MULLAITIVU”, “REAL MANNAR”. REAL KILINOCHI, “REAL VAVUNIYA”.
Veteran hospitality and leisure sector expert and management professional Sunil Dissanayake has been hand-picked by the Governor of the Northern Province Jeewan Thyagarajah to lead the Northern tourism revival as the Chairman of the NPTB. “We have developed a strategic plan with short, medium, and long-term objectives that aim to portray the natural and scenic beauty and the traditional Sri Lankan hospitality and warmth of the people in the North to the world and the rest of Sri Lanka. Several initiatives have been identified to be rolled out to achieve our objectives including conducting awareness sessions both locally and internationally.
The Northern Province is home to numerous attractions such as the Ketheeswaram temple in Mannar, Nagadipa in Jaffna, the Nallur Kandasamy Kovil, the Jaffna fort, Keerimalai Tank etc,” said Sunil Dissanayake – Chairman, TBNP. Board Member Suresh Murugaser, a multi-disciplinary veteran of the Tourism and Marketing Industries, added “We are very excited at the challenge before us.
We believe that the Indian market will be the one that will take off the fastest and provide the highest number of tourists in the shortest possible time. We are developing innovative low-cost but high impact “Call to Action” campaigns on-line, and we are confident of success.”
In association with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, other markets world-wide will be accessed, thereby cementing the ‘REAL NORTH’ firmly in the minds of the consumer.
From an infrastructure perspective, a new Colombo-Jaffna night intercity train service has been introduced on weekends for the convenience of travelers. An air-conditioned ferry service with 120 first-class seats and 300 economy class seats is also planned from Karaikal in Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, India to Kankesanthurai.
The journey is expected to take three hours, and it will return the same day. A unique feature will be that it will be able to carry 12 20-foot containers of cargo and 40-48 cars on a roll-on/roll-off basis. It is scheduled to commence operations in the first half of 2023.
Furthermore, international flights from Tiruchirapaali (Trichy), India to the Palay International Airport will commence shortly, along with domestic air services from Ratmalana and possibly from Katunayake international Airport, in the future.
The Board of Airline Representatives as well as SLAITO (Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators Association), among other similar organisations, will be encouraged to set up their offices in the North. A booking engine will be added to the ‘REAL NORTH’ website which will be designed and developed to provide information as well as online services such as booking tickets for attractions, tours, tour operators, hotels and homestays etc.
The Northern Province will no doubt blossom with this exciting initiative of the NPTB attracting local and international tourists who are looking forward to having an exotic tourist destination to visit.