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Oman Sri Lanka to boost tourism ties

Relations between Sri Lanka and Oman are going from strength to strength and the new Sri Lankan ambassador, Asoka Girihagama, hopes to do his bit to further boost the already robust ties.

Girihagama told Times of Oman in an interview that he hopes to improve the trade, cultural and tourism ties on a priority basis.

This is Girihagama's first assignment as ambassador and prior to this appointment, he was a Director General for the Consular Affairs division at the Ministry of External Affairs.
He said facilitating an exchange of visits between the heads of the states of the two nations is one of his objectives. "I plan to work out an exchange of ministerial and official level visits," the ambassador added.

The ambassador said in 2010, exports from Sri Lanka to Oman stood at US $ 9.3 million. Exports from Oman to Sri Lanka stood at US $ 93 million.

The ambassador said, "after conclusion of our war against terrorism in May 2009, some regions are being developed by the government with the support of international community. There are lots of development projects taking place. For example, many roads and bridges are being developed. Oman can invest in the country through infrastructure and agricultural projects."

"We can both learn from each other on how to develop tourism. I would be meeting the Sultanate's minister responsible for tourism to take this forward. I am also planning to meet outbound tourism agents so that the embassy can give them accurate information about Sri Lanka and suggest packages and destinations," he said.

Last year, around 1,500 Omani citizens travelled to Sri Lanka. "We hope to improve upon these numbers," he said. Considering that a majority of the Sri Lankans living in Oman fall in the blue collar category, he said the Sri Lankan government conducts pre-departure awareness programmes for citizens travelling to Middle East countries.