The MOU that was signed recently between Sri Lanka and Pakistan to co-operate on Tourism and Archeology is expected to open a new window of opportunity for both countries. This is expected to build on the momentum achieved from by the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Free Trade agreement, which was signed in February during the official visit of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to Pakistan. This landmark visit took Sri Lanka-Pakistan ties to a higher ground, with the signing of several important agreements.
Dr. P. Ramanujam, Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism explained, “The broader objective of the MoU is to strengthen friendly relations through the promotion of mutual understanding of the people through expansion of co-operation in the fields of tourism and archaeology”.
Various proposals were discussed under broad headings including development of tourist tariff, promotion of tourism, training and exchange of experiences, investment in tourism sector and the preservation and exchange of experience in archaeological heritages. According to the discussions, the joint working group will work on an action plan targeted at both short and long term gains mutually beneficial to both counties.
At the operational level the joint working group will monitor the progress of the work carried out in the form of facilitating the exchange of tourist information and experiences the establishment of contacts between relevant parties, mainly the private sector operators and exploring and activating joint collaboration on investment, education and technical training in the tourism and archaeology sectors.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan are also exploring the possibility of increasing air links to facilitate tourism and business. The discussions were followed by a meeting with the Minister of State Tourism in Pakistan, Sumaira Malik. The emphasis was on translating policies into action and facilitating the participation of the private sector to realize the goals of the MOU. Dr. Ramanujam, led the Sri Lankan delegation along with the other members A.P.A. Gunasekera, Secretary to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Vipula Wanigasekera, General Manager of Sri Lanka Convention Bureau.