Sri Lanka Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai continues to attract large numbers of visitors
Daily FT: The Sri Lanka Pavilion continued to attract large numbers of visitors to Expo 2020 – a result of the concerted efforts of Sri Lanka Tourism along with partners to date – Export Development Board, Ceylon Tea Board, SriLankan Airlines and Consulate of Dubai and with the excellent and willing cooperation of the Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.
Expo 2020 Dubai, a prestigious global event commenced on 1 October and will run until 31 March 2022. It is situated across a 438 hectare area, that is around 1,083 acres, of desert land held with the participation of 192 countries under the thematic districts of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability and the Sri Lanka Pavilion is positioned in the ‘Opportunity District’ of the Expo Village. The space allocated is a 212 sq meter area, assigned free of charge, by Expo 2020 Dubai.
The Sri Lanka Pavilion is built on a design concept given by a team from the Moratuwa University, which won the design award selected and awarded by expo officials. This was when the Export Development Board (EDB) was taking the lead, from 2018, in representing Sri Lanka at Expo 2020. Based on the design and approvals from the organisers of Expo 2020 Dubai the pavilion showcases the hydraulic civilisation of Sri Lanka and is being presented in a manner to attract tourists to the Island. In a visual journey keeping in mind the unique position of Sri Lanka as an authentic, compact and diverse destination.
Silent display screens take visitors on a journey through history, culture, nature, people, and the many facets of a visit to the island will entail, through the medium of storytelling, via video and digital content. This has been successfully achieved while retaining the essential features of the design. Some features of the design aspect have had to be adjusted to keep with climatic and health and safety conditions of the location of Expo 2020; it has not resulted in any additional cost to Sri Lanka. The entire pavilion construction was facilitated at zero cost to Sri Lanka courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai.
Financial constraints have also played a part when implementing some of the plans of the EDB, which had budgeted and planned for the expenditure to the tune of Rs. 580 million and the contributions from industry players, for the six months duration of Expo 2020. The pandemic and economic factors resulted in EDB not being able to raise the funds, Sri Lanka Tourism being called upon in December 2020 to shoulder the financial responsibility and also to take leadership with Tourism agreeing to spend Rs. 155.5 million, a fraction of the initial budget, for the entire six months, to manage the event in Dubai.
“We at Sri Lanka Tourism are happy that the Sri Lanka Pavilion attracted nearly 10,000 visitors during the last 20 days from the date of commencement with positive endorsements flowing in. The interactive craft corner which had a cane weaver demonstrating drew many and is run on a rotation basis with an array of activities from batik, Sri Lankan puppetry, clay pottery, wood carving, Sri Lankan sculpting craft, patterns of ‘Beeralu,’ brass plate designs, mask carving, rush and reed craft, flax Designs and other Sri Lankan art showcasing Sri Lankan art and crafts to the world,” a statement noted.
Included in the pavilion is a retail corner hosted by EDB providing the opportunity for Sri Lankan export businesses to exhibit their products. These exporters were selected in response to an industry circular, and provides the opportunity for variety and a greater number of exporter participation as it is on a rotation basis. Also included in the pavilion is the famous ‘Ceylon Tea’ corner hosted by the Tea Board in partnership with the private sector and will be on a roster basis and run throughout the six months. Laksala is also provided with a special souk to showcase and to sell Sri Lankan art and craft outside the Sri Lankan Pavilion.
Complimenting these pavilion activities are outside pavilion activities of a wedding show; batik fashion show; song, dance, drama and drums of Sri Lanka; book reading ‘Under the stars’ featuring Sybil Wettasinghe’s ‘Sun, Rain and Fox Wedding’; Sri Lanka cultural musical and dance show and a fusion dance show; and the viral sensation Yohani live in concert.
The Tea Board, BOI and Port City will have their own B2B forums facilitated by Sri Lanka Tourism at Expo 2020 Dubai focusing on creating awareness and connecting with potential investors and businesses, paving the way for Sri Lankan businesses to unleash possible opportunities in a global marketplace. Also hosted is the Sri Lanka Tourism Travel B2B Forum connecting the local travel and tourism industry with global players.
The Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Authority with industry participation will showcase ‘Ceylon Gems’ at the Sri Lanka Pavilion from mid-December till early January and will also run a gem promotion providing the visitors with an opportunity to win Ceylon gems. SriLankan Airlines’ raffle draw to win free airline tickets, with social media engagement, is also a huge success according to reports coming from Dubai.
“Sri Lanka Tourism looks forward to presenting many more attractions in the coming days, weeks and months during the whole duration of the exhibition and it is all planned to keep the momentum going not only at the opening of the exhibition but to continue throughout until March 2022. Taking on the huge responsibility and challenge with limited time and resources, we are happy to state that the Sri Lanka Pavilion is a success due to the concerted effort of all stakeholders who stand behind Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Tourism,” it added.
The exposure received by Sri Lanka at the Expo 2020 in Dubai and the interest shown by foreign visitors are indicative of a growing interest to explore the business potential in the island. Sri Lanka’s economy has shown great resilience to external and internal challenges through the years and is once again on the path to recovery after facing the pandemic challenges. Several key economic sectors in Sri Lanka has shown a growth momentum despite facing the pandemic and the ongoing development programme has expanded the business/investment opportunities in the country. With Sri Lanka fast emerging as a business destination in the South Asian region, investing in the business/investment opportunities in the island would provide quick and guaranteed return on investment.
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