On the evening of Wednesday 8 November 2023, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Brussels, which is also accredited to Luxembourg and the European Union, held a tourism promotion event at the cultural centre in Luxembourg-Rollingergrund.
This event, bringing together about 60 people, followed a larger celebration earlier this year to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Luxembourg, as well as the 75th anniversary of the independence of Sri Lanka.
Wednesday's event took the form of a workshop / presentation promoting tourism opportunities in Sri Lanka for Luxembourg's travel market.
In her welcome remarks (in English), Grace Asirwatham, the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union, described Sri Lanka as "not just a place, but an experience waiting to be discovered." She noted that the aim of this event was to "shed light on the diverse and unique attractions" Sri Lanka has to offer tourists around the world and invited those working in the travel industry to consider choosing Sri Lanka for an "unforgettable journey" for their clients. Taking attendees on a virtual journey (via a visual presentation) through the island country's main tourist attractions, the Ambassador highlighted its "diverse" landscapes and "beautiful" beaches, as well as its cultural heritage (including eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites), wildlife and nature (including rainforests, natural parks and birdwatching opportunities) and wellness tourism.
Yves VanHaack, Belgium-based Sales Manager at Emirates (which partially sponsored the event), then delivered a presentation (in French) about the airline, particularly its fleet, novelties and connections to Sri Lanka (two daily flights from Brussels to Colombo via Dubai). He also spoke about the options available to passengers in Luxembourg, e.g. a chauffeur-drive service to/from Brussels Airport.
Monique De Decker, Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in Antwerp, Belgium, then presented (in French) some of the less traditional tourist opportunities in Sri Lanka - a country she has visited 80 times... She particularly highlighted its adventure tourism (watersports, whale watching, jungle safaris, hot air ballooning, etc.) and shopping opportunities (e.g. artisanal products, (semi-)precious gemstones and Ceylon tea at local markets and shopping centres), as well as the hospitality and friendliness of people in Sri Lanka, an approach which she described as a "way of life".
Dulmini Dahanayake, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Brussels, went on to present (in English) some of the main hotels in each category, looking at different budgets: star-class luxury hotels, eco-tourism hotels/accommodation, heritage and colonial hotels, and boutique hotels and villas.
Throughout the evening, several video clips also showcased Sri Lanka's more popular and lesser known attractions.
The evening concluded with a traditional Sri Lankan buffet dinner and authentic Ceylon tea - imported from Sri Lanka and brought to Belgium (and Luxembourg) by Basilur Tea.