Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, title sponsor of the prestigious, annual British Guild of Travel Writers Awards, London
The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, was for the first time the title sponsor of the black tie, British Guild of Travel Writers Awards, at The Savoy Hotel, London, on 05 November 2017. Joining past sponsors who included Virgin Atlantic Airways, the Oman Ministry of Tourism and Las Vegas to name a few. The event attracted over 330 media and industry leaders to celebrate the excellence of British Travel Writing in the presence of Hon. John Amarathunga, Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs in Sri Lanka and Her Excellency Mrs Amari Wijewardane, High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom.
On arrival guests were treated to Sri Lankan cocktails, beer, music and souvenir photographs. Traditional drummers and dancers paraded the VIP guests into the room, followed by a traditional lamp lighting ceremony.
Afterwhich, Mr UdayaNanayakkara, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, welcomed the distinguished guests: “Ayubowan! It gives me great pleasure towelcome you all to this evening’s festivities, and Sri Lanka Tourism is proud to partner with this prestigious event, the British Travel Writers Awards” he continued “It is our intention that all of you here this evening visit our beautiful island home – Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a resplendent island like no other. Our vision is to be recognised as the world’s finest island for memorable, authentic and diverse experience. Our mission is to be a high value destination, offering extraordinary experiences that reflect Sri Lanka’s natural and cultural heritage; are socially inclusive and drive economic benefits to communities and the country”.
Mr Nanayakkarawent on to explain that despite being in a state of conflict for over 20 years, Sri Lanka is now at peace, with tourism exponentially increasing from a mere 500,000 during the conflict to over 2 million arrivals today.
He gave the audience a taste of the country’s highlights: from peacocks dancing, whales breaching and the magnificent ‘Gathering of Elephants’,to the incredible EsalaPerehara where the tooth relic of Lord Bhudda takes a turn around the City of Kings – Kandy or the fierce surfing waves ofArugam Bay. “ Where in the world can you find the two largest mammals on land and in the sea: elephants and whales – Sri Lanka!” he enthused.
The evening started with Ceylon Arrack cocktails, and Lion Beer flown in especially for the event, and the menu, prepared by the highly skilled chefs of The Savoyincorporated the best of the best Ceylon tea into its ingredients. Ending with a tea ceremony performed by Mr Malik Fernando of Resplendent Ceylon.
During the evening guests were treated to a variety of videos and images of the country and entertained by Sri Lankan singer, Alston Koch, who flew in especially for the occasion from California. The evening was eloquently presented by Adrian Phillips, Managing Director of Bradt Guides and Jennifer Howze, Co-founder of britmums.com.
At the end of the evening guests left dreaming of their trip to Sri Lanka and 4 lucky guests won a holiday there for two with flights courtesy of Sri Lankan, Emirates and Qatar Airways and accommodation from Cinnamon Hotels, Shangri-La and Aitken Spence Hotels.These were won in the award dinner’s raffle that raised £5000 for the charity nominated by the BGTW theJoliba Trust who work tirelessly to support marginal communities in Africa.
In his address, the Hon. Minister praised the Sri Lanka Promotion Bureau for taking the initiative to sponsor the event and thanking the Guild and mediafor their support and future endeavours, he said “The main reason for the positive growth in visitors numbers from the UK is the fact that British tourists have come to realise that Sri Lanka is home away from home due to its centuries long historical connections that include English being one of three official languages in the country and a Westminster style system of governance. Our changing political landscape based on good governance, respect for human rights, upholding of democratic values and a vibrant, engaging foreign policy have ensured that bilateral relations between the two countries are the closest they have ever been”. After his address, the Hon. Minister presented a special gift of recognition to the Chairman of the Guild as well as some of the prestigious awards.
From left to right - Mr Chameera Peiris - Asst Director Marketing, Ms. Madubhani Perera - Director Marketing, Mr. Udaya Nanayakkara - Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Mr Alastair McKenzie- Chairman British Guilt of Travel Writers, Hon. John Amarathunga - Minister Tourism Development and Christian Affairs, Mr. Nalin Perera - TPO SrI Lanka Tourism UK, Mr. Felix Rodrigo - Senior Advisor to the Minister