Strengthening linkages between Sri Lanka and the Philippines in the tourism industry: Message of Solidarity at the 1st NAITAS General Membership and Business Meeting

Upon the invitation of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS), Ambassador of Sri Lanka Shobini Gunasekera participated as one of the guest speakers at the first General Membership and Business Meeting (GMBM) of the travel association for 2022. NAITAS ranks among the most prominent tourism associations in the Philippines with hundreds of members and partners throughout the country.

In her speech, Ambassador Gunasekera elaborated on the importance of maximizing the new prospects that the challenge-laden pandemic period has generated for the industry especially that the new normal necessitates the pursuit of new value chains, new markets, and a different perspective especially in accelerating the drive towards an inclusive and sustainable recovery.

She observed that both countries, being distant neighbors having good air travel connectivity, should collaborate in promoting bilateral tourism. As two renowned tourism destinations with unique features and offerings, travelers should include Sri Lanka and the Philippines in their travel bucket list. Further, she also reiterated the Embassy’s standing invitation to the association to visit Sri Lanka through a familiarization tour for travel agents and to hold their second GMBM in the country this year.

The NAITAS, with its leaders and membership mostly composed of women entrepreneurs, has been advocating for women empowerment in line with the significant role of empowered women in the development of the tourism industry.

In addition, the association has been extending valuable support to the Embassy’s tourism promotion initiatives in the Philippines. In the past two years, the Embassy has participated in their activities such as travel expos, networking sessions, and tourism presentations.

The Philippines, initially focusing on domestic tourism as its first priority in revitalizing the industry, has recently lifted all inbound travel limitations and restrictions. Fully-vaccinated foreign travelers with the appropriate visas can now enter the country for leisure activities.