President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that the government will be unveiling a new tourist plan called ‘Visit Sri Lanka’ that will be released in the upcoming months. He claimed the proposal is in the final stages of development and would be made public as soon as it is complete.
President Wickremesinghe made this statement while attending the Award Ceremony and a Gala dinner of the ‘Bocuse d’Or 2023’ competition held at the Waters Edge Grand Ballroom.

Government to launch ‘Visit Sri Lanka’ – new tourism plan
• Govt. aims to draw 5 million tourists
• Culinary tourism to play the key role
• Govt. to start a Culinary School
• Merrill. J. Fernando made a significant contribution to the tourism industry


The government aims to bring in 5 million tourists, of whom 2.5 million will be high-end visitors, President Wickremesinghe said while emphasizing the industry as a significant economic driver. According to Indian estimates, Sri Lanka can host up to 10 million tourists, of whom most will be tourists from Asian and the Indian Ocean region, he continued.

Transformation of the tourism industry is required to make Sri Lanka competitive in the global travel market place and the government has recognized the potential in promoting the country as a tropical nation with a diverse culinary style. Hence attention will be given to develop the culinary tourism in the country, the President said.

The government is prepared to launch a Culinary School in collaboration with the private sector, the travel industry, and the hotel industry, the President added, noting that there is a need to train more personnel in the hospitality field, particularly in culinary tourism. Attention will also be paid to aid private Culinary Schools in accomplishing this task, he added.
The President expressed admiration for the late Mr. Merrill J. Fernando, a prominent business figure and founder of Sri Lanka’s renowned ‘Dilmah Tea’ brand. He praised Mr. Fernando’s valuable contributions to the country’s tourism industry.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe further commented;
There’s a void in our room. We all feel it. These functions would not have been possible without Merrill, and we meet here today for the first time without him. We all feel the loss, we all feel the sadness. For me, it’s also been a personal loss. All the articles on Merrill referred to the tea industry, Dilma, and what he had done. He made a similar contribution to the tourism industry; our hotels would not have been the same without him. I remember in the beginning, it was when I was Prime Minister in 2002, Merrill was one of those within a small circle. I used to consult on economic matters. That was the time Adrian Zecha had come. He was talking about tourism, how we could expand tourism.