‘Tournival’ - Reviving Sri Lankan Tourism | Daily News

‘Tournival’ - Reviving Sri Lankan Tourism

State Minister of Tourism and Event Head Diana Gamage. Pictures by Wasitha Patabendige
State Minister of Tourism and Event Head Diana Gamage. Pictures by Wasitha Patabendige

“Where there is a will, there is a way” said charismatic and strong State Minister of Tourism and Event Head, Diana Gamage at a Press Conference that was held recently to announce the plans she and her talented team have in store as they attempt to revive Sri Lankan tourism. Tournival is the way forward.

‘Tournival’ is a concept that will focus on entertainment, culture and sports. Zakir Hussain from Anyelp Entertainment is the founder of the concept –‘Tournival’. Initially it was to take place in the Maldives, but now Sri Lanka will launch the events first. Right now it is a bilateral event between India and Sri Lanka, but it has the potential to establish itself in multiple countries. This will surely benefit the tourism industry in the host country. The target is to draw as many tourists as possible to Sri Lanka through these events, hence the term ‘Tournival –Welcome to Sri Lanka’.

State Minister of Tourism and Event Head, Diana Gamage, is passionate about reviving tourism in Sri Lanka. She has spoken about initiatives that will drive this economy.

She pointed out that Sri Lanka is in an economic crisis and that we have also defaulted. We have gone bankrupt. “For a country which has gone bankrupt it takes quite a while to get back on its feet. The reason being, when you declare bankruptcy, investors are very reluctant to come in and invest in a country which is bankrupt. That is a very understandable situation. You and I would not want to go into a bankrupt country. It will take a risk to invest our money because we do not know what will happen. So that is also a very unfortunate situation. But this is a turning point for Sri Lanka. At the moment Sri Lanka is in a do or die situation. So we have to take up the challenge and we have to turn the situation around. That is exactly what I want to do starting from the tourism industry,” explained State Minister Gamage.

The State Minister was adamant saying that if there is a will, there is always a way. “I don’t believe in the excuse – it takes time to do this. It does not take time to do things. If you really have a passion and if you really want to do something, you can do it. India is our big brother and there is not much of a difference if you look at our cultures. The majority of Sri Lankans are Buddhist in this country and obviously this also comes from India. So we are a big family,” said State Minister Gamage.

She reminded us that Sri Lankan tourism is not doing very well. Since the Easter bomb attack Sri Lankan tourism has gone down. It has been declining.

“Tournival is only the start. We are planning on continuing this every year in Sri Lanka. This will certainly bring a lot of tourists to Sri Lanka from India. Our main tourist attraction will be from India. There is a lot of cultural tourism in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has such a great heritage and such a wonderful culture, and this generates a lot of interest in India. So we are working on that. And also when it comes to Tournival, we are planning on doing this first in the North – this is the musical concert. This will give the North and the East the opportunity to join in together with us. Sri Lanka is one country. And that is how we should look at it. That is why we suggested that we should start from there (the musical concert). Then we will bring it to the South and have a cricket tournament in the South. We are planning on introducing our artistes to the Indian artistes and getting this celebrity mixture together. The singers of Sri Lanka will be mixing with the singers of India. There will be two teams that will be singing and we will be choosing the best team,” explained State Minister Gamage.

The next topic that State Minister Gamage brought up was the trade exhibition. “This will create an opportunity for the Sri Lankan market. The local market. There will be investors there. There will be a lot of stalls at this exhibition. This will help Sri Lanka in a big way. So this is what we are planning on doing with the Tournival. We are expecting around 10,000 tourists. That is the target. I think that is great. I am positive that we can make this a success. I wish the team the best of luck. I am sure our hard work will pay off.”

All present at the head table agreed that this decision to host Tournival 2022 by State Minister Diana Gamage was absolutely brilliant and timely. The media can play a huge role here. To show the whole world that Sri Lanka is a prime destination when it comes to culture and beauty.

Managing Director, Anyelp Entertainment and Event Partner, Rudhraa Nufais, explained that the Tournival will revolve around entertainment, culture and sports. “The idea is connecting the world through entertainment, culture and sports. So we want to connect the countries and make this huge. So this is basically the concept behind Tournival. We want to do this all over the world. So firstly we are going to do it in Sri Lanka. This will include the cricket matches, cultural programmes like musical concerts and trade fairs. So we will be bringing celebrities, sports personalities and famous musicians from India. We are definitely going to support Sri Lanka,” said Nufais.

He also added that without media support it is not possible to embark on this project. “Together we must all support Sri Lanka. India is Sri Lanka’s neighbour. That is why we must help Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. That is why we must do this together. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who is on the team. So let’s make this a success! Let us bring more investors and visitors to Sri Lanka.”

This project is a bit of a novelty with such diverse participants. It is showcasing and highlighting our artistes, musicians and actors on a bigger platform than what we have been used to.

Managing Director, Anyelp Entertainment and Event Partner, Poojashree, said that the Tournival definitely has the potential to bring in those 10,000 tourists to Sri Lanka. “The artistes from Sri Lanka and India are going to give the Tournival the kind of boost that it needs from them. It is going to be a beautiful festival. I need to say that Madam Gamage’s leadership has been nothing short of inspirational. Her passion for her country is such an inspiration. Tournival is going to connect the world one day. It has great potential to spread beyond Sri Lanka. Our Indian artistes have made a firm decision to help Sri Lanka and promote its tourism.”

The legendary and veteran musician Keerthi Pasqual is very keen on supporting this concept. “These past few months have been very distressing for Sri Lankans. The economic crisis has really affected all of us. The tourism sector has declined and this is something that is very upsetting. However, we are so fortunate to have the leadership of State Minister Diana Gamage. Her confidence, self-belief and sacrifice is so inspirational. I firmly believe she will succeed. If we want dollars, then the tourism industry is vital. I am so glad that there is a plan. We need to let the world know that Sri Lanka is ready to come out of the doldrums. In a short time, Madam Gamage has worked miracles. I am ready to assist her and this project, because I want my country to prosper. I am not motivated by politics, only by a genuine love for my country.”

South Indian Actor/ Dance Choreographer/ Motivational Speaker Danny Kanikaraj, expressed his delight at being present at the occasion. “The people of Sri Lanka have warmly welcomed us. The whole thing has been wonderful. Tournival is indeed a wonderful concept. The name says it all. This concept is right up my street! I love it! I immediately agreed to be a part of this wonderful team. All these Indian artistes have signed up because they really care about our neighbouring Sri Lanka. I am really honoured to be a part of this. I need to say that meeting Madam Gamage has been such an honour. She is so amazing and I was blown away when I met her for the first time! I also want to thank the media.”

Managing Director, White Lotus Entertainment and Event Partner, Asim Akhtar, lauded State Minister of Tourism Diana Gamage for her efforts and determination. “We collaborated with ANYELP to come up with this new and unique concept called Tournival. The idea is to connect the world through culture. We are starting this in Sri Lanka. India itself has a very rich culture, and we have the rest of the world before us. We are working on this. We are so happy at this collaboration and the opportunity to collaborate with other countries in the future. We are looking forward to greater things.”

Chairman of Western Province Tourist Board, Sugath Hewapathirana, was last but not least. “The entire tourism industry has collapsed. Today in Sri Lanka we are suffering because of a lack of dollars. We are also suffering from the rising Cost of Living. India has come to us like a brother. Blood is thicker than water. India has always been our helper. I actually applaud this effort. I urge the media to give publicity to this noble effort. There is so much for us Sri Lankans to be sorrowful about. But because of initiatives like this, we have a reason to smile. So I urge the media to bring attention to this great effort. Let’s bring these 10,000 in!”

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