Ajith Dias | PATA CEO, Mario Hardy

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) will be holding their Annual Summit in Negombo, Sri Lanka in 2017, in recognition of the importance of the country in Asian tourism. The winning bid was submitted by the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau.

Announced formally by PATA Chief Executive Officer Mario Hardy at the PATA Travel Mart in Bangalore, India held from September 6-8, 2015, Sri Lanka was also presented as the latest tourism and MICE destination in Asia to the hosted buyers of PATA attending PATA TRAVEL MART in Bangalore as well as to over 100 Indian Tourism and MICE buyers.

“Negombo was chosen out of the four options given – Negombo, the Cultural Triangle, Kandy and Bentota/Beruwala, due to the destination’s rich and colourful history, the proximity to the airport, and the event itself will be held at Jetwing Hotels; the single largest accommodation provider in Negombo,” a statement from Jetwing Hotels said last week.

The announcement of the awarding of PATA Annual Summit to Sri Lanka in 2017 was made on September 5, at an event hosted by Sri Lanka Convention Bureau and Sri Lankan Airlines in Bangalore.
A high powered team attending this event from Sri Lanka consisted of Chairman SriLankan Airlines Ajith Dias, CEO of Sri Lanka Convention Bureau SLCB Vipula Wanigasekera, President Sri Lankan Inbound tour Operators Association Mahen Kariyawasam and Members of Sri Lanka professional Conference and Exhibition organizers (SLAPCEO), Travel Industry of Sri Lanka, Senior Officers of SLCB and SriLankan Airlines. SLAPCEO was represented by Paddy Paul together with industry members who met a large cross-section of the buyers during this event.

As speakers, Vipula Wanigasekera presented reasons for the phenomenal growth of tourism and MICE Tourism and why this trend will continue in the coming years. He presented the factors that attribute to the unique memorable experience that the visitors, be they Leisure or MICE, take back from Sri Lanka which has helped Sri Lanka through word of mouth without a major advertising or PR Campaign which is expected be launched soon.

Apart from Sri Lanka being a MICE location, Wanigasekera presented the finer attractions that can entice special niches of travellers and they are yet to be projected in our Marketing campaign beyond the 8 wonderful experiences. Story lines in locations, ship wrecks, the largest living creatures witnessed from one land, Port Tarshish in the 1st testament presumed to be Galle, Hot water wells that said to be prolonging life spans taking out illnesses, location for spiritual seekers were among the lesser known attractions presented at this event to hundreds of international tourism buyers.

SriLankan Airline Dimuthu Tennakoon presented the latest plan for growth and the markets that the national airline would be taping while Chairman SriLankan Airlines Ajith Dias welcomed the guests explaining the Government policy towards the development of the national career.

PATA CEO Mario Hardy in his speech announced that Sri Lanka was chosen as the venue for PATA Annual summit in 2017 in response to the bid submitted by Sri Lanka Convention Bureau with the support of the Industry.

PATA CEO Mario Hardy in his speech said, ‘I would like to take this wonderful opportunity to announce something special. It is honor and pleasure for me to announce that the PATA Annual Summit in 2017 will take place in Negombo, Sri Lanka’ Negombo was chosen out of the four options given viz. Negombo, Cultural Triangle, Kandy and Bentota/Beruwala.

‘In the last few months we have been working on getting a few major tourism events to Sri Lanka and PATA was one such Conference which will bring in over 300 international tourism professionals into Sri Lanka. Apart from the event that offers opportunity for our industry to showcase their products and services, PATA will publicise Sri Lanka through their communication channels over the next two years’ says CEO SLCB Vipula Wanigasekera.

Former Chairman of PATA and current Chairman of Jetwing, Hiran Cooray welcomed the announcement, stating that “Sri Lanka and Jetwing will welcome the delegates of the PATA Annual Summit with open arms in keeping with our reputation of being the heart and home of Sri Lankan hospitality. Our contribution to South Asian tourism is growing steadily, as our destination is truly unique with plenty to offer everyone. We look forward to a successful Summit, with the participation and support of all stakeholders to further expose Negombo and Sri Lanka as unique destinations”.

Founded in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a not-for profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. The Annual Summit is a 3-4 day program consisting of the association’s executive and advisory board meetings; annual general meeting; PATA Foundation charity and Gala dinner.

‘We are eying for one more major event which we cannot divulge due to nature of competition. We are hopeful it will also come to Sri Lanka,’ concluded Wanigasekera