Keen to resume ferry service with India, says Lankan Minister

Chennai: Sri Lanka Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga  yesterday announced that the Island nation was keen to resume ferry service with India. He said this would help boost tourism.

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of an event held by Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Amaratunga noted that earlier there was a ferry service between the two nations – Rameswaram and Talaimannar – and it used to carry cargo too. However, it was cancelled and the infrastructure is still present. He further claimed that Lanka’s High Commission is in talks with the government of India to resume the service.

He further said that he hoped the project will be made before this year end and that the effort needs to be taken from the South Indian side.

There was a railway line near the jetty close to the Talaimannar pier and it can take passengers from there to any part of Sri Lanka, he stated.

Following the Easter Sunday blast in April, tourism sector in the Island nation has been hit. The minister stated that tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka in 2018 was 2.3 million and the total tourist earnings was USD 4.3 billion. However after the blasts, about 98% of tourists had cancelled their visit.

The Lankan government in a bid to attract more tourists have implemented visa-on-arrival facility from India and from 47 other countries. Visa fees have been waived and ground-handling cost has been reduced so that more airlines can operate in Lanka, he claimed.

Amaratunga said the first visit taken up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Colombo after winning the polls for a successive second term was a signal to the rest of the world that there was no problem in terms of safety and security to tourists visiting the country. He further claimed that the political relationship between Sri Lankan and India is at a peak, and cordial.