“SRI LANKA in Georgia”
Unravelling Sri Lanka’s potential for tourism in Tbilisi
First ever mega Sri Lanka tourism promotional event in Georgia was organized in Tbilisi, Georgia on 27th September 2023, coinciding with the World Tourism Day.
The event also marked the celebration of 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries and took place at the courtyard of Radisson Red hotel, the former post office converted to a luxury hotel recently.
Preceding the event, in the morning, a Memorandum of Understanding on tourism cooperation was signed by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, H.E. Alexander Khvtisiashvili and the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Georgia, with residence in Ankara, Türkiye, Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake Another Memorandum of Understanding was signed for cooperation between Georgian Levan Mikeladze Diplomatic Training and Research Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka by H.E. Alexander Khvtisiashvili and Ambassador Dissanayake.
SRI LANKA in Georgia was an evening of sharing Sri Lankan traditions and culture through multiple media platforms, on Sri Lanka’s tourism products offered to the world with a special focus on its cultural and natural heritage elements that are distinctly different from the Georgian tourism experience. After all, tourism is not just visiting places today, it is also to understand, respect and appreciate differences, which would eventually contribute to global peace.
While welcoming all guests Ms. Nino Makhviladze, Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka in Georgia, briefly shared her firsthand experience visiting Sri Lankan recently. Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Georgia, with residence in Ankara, Türkiye, Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake, presented an introduction to Sri Lanka highlighting a broad range of uniquely Sri Lankan experiences that Georgian tourists could enjoy with a PowerPoint presentation. The Guest of Honour for the occasion, Ms. Medea Janiashvili, Deputy Head at the Georgian National Tourism Administration delivered her thoughts noting that this is the first ever such event in Tbilisi, and the importance of the occasion to promote bilateral tourism cooperation in an effective manner.
Hon. Alexander Khvtisiashvili, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia was a special guest at the event. The event saw over 150 guests with diverse backgrounds with majority from tourism sector, from corporate clientele who have a high potential to seek Sri Lanka for their corporate events, staff retreats and personal holidays, wide range of media representing social media, to print and digital media, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Georgian National Tourism Administration, diplomatic corps, Sri Lankan community and representatives of Sri Lankan students in Tbilisi.
Representatives of leading Sri Lanka tourism agencies, Jetwing Travels (Pvt) Ltd, Cinnamon Hotels and Walkers Tours presented their products through short video clips. Dilmah Tea, which is already popular in Georgia, had a tea promotional video and Ceylon Tea was served by distributors of Dilmah Tea in Georgia. Furthermore, a chef from Jetwing Hotel Group of Sri Lanka joined the event to provide an authentic Sri Lankan culinary experience to the guests.
In addition, a Sri Lankan photo exhibition depicting natural beauty, including wildlife, culture and heritage of Sri Lanka by two professional award winning photographers, Mr. Ravi Ranasinghe and Dr. Umberto Binetti, a selection of paintings of renowned Sri Lankan artist, Mr. Vasantha Perera was displayed at the venue, providing yet another platform of exposure to Sri Lanka.
A few traditional Sri Lankan dances were performed by professional Sri Lankan dancer, Ms. Poornima Wickramarachchi together with students from Tbilisi State Medical University. In addition, a spot fashion show depicting Sri Lankan clothing, traditional and modern, with batik and handloom, was presented by professional Georgian models.
Traditional and modern Sri Lankan music and songs were performed by a Sri Lankan musician in Georgia, Mr. Amila Jayasooriya and Ms. Ellie Dawson, a British (check name). They also sang some Georgian songs. A Georgian folk dance was also performed by a Georgian ballet group at the venue which added colour to the event and the World Tourism Day.
All guests enjoyed Sri Lankan and Georgian cuisine while networking with each other. There were also opportunities for B2B meetings set up at the far end of the venue for the Sri Lankan and Georgian tourism companies.
It was indeed an enthralling glimpse to what Sri Lanka offers to the world, a moment of festivity and colours which created a unique platform to promote Sri Lanka as a promising destination among Georgians and making Sri Lankan known among Georgians which at the same time, getting Sri Lanka a high up in the bucket list to visit.
The event continues to receive wide coverage in social and mainstream media.
The Sri Lanka Embassy in Türkiye, accredited to Georgia, organized the event, supported by the Honorary Consulate of Sri Lanka in Georgia and with generous support by ALFAD Group, Jetwing Travel, Interco, Walkers Tours, Dilmah Tea and Turkish Airlines, Sri Lankan community including the students in Tbilisi.