‘Seethawaka Odyssey’ on track to boost tourism | Daily News

‘Seethawaka Odyssey’ on track to boost tourism

Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said that the economy will receive an enormous boost through the development of the tourism industry.

The Minister added that it is essential to develop the country’s tourism industry and the Government’s attention is focused on identifying and developing new tourist zones.

Minister Dr. Gunawardena expressed these views attending the launch of the “Seethawaka Odyssey” luxury train service yesterday (15), which promotes Seethawaka/Avissawella as a new tourist destination, anticipating the rapid growth of the tourism industry in this country.

The official launch of the “Seethawaka Odyssey” promotional programme was organised by the Western Province Tourism Board and the Ministry of Transport, Highways and Mass Media under the patronage of the Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media, Dr. Bandula Gunawardena.

This train journey was launched after performing religious observances with the participation of foreign tourists and a large number of people.

The train then travelled from Colombo Fort along the Kelani Valley Railway Line to the Waga Railway Station and the guests were taken from there to the Labugama and Kalatuwa reservoirs by bus.

A cultural pageant was held at the Seethawaka Wetland Park. This service has been introduced to promote Seethawaka/Avissawella as a tourist destination as another milestone under the tourist programme implemented by the Western Provincial Tourism Board to revive the tourism industry that collapsed due to the pandemic and economic instability as result of the global economic crisis.

The Western Provincial Tourism Board has planned to utilize the tourism potential of the Seethawaka/Avissawella tourism region to promote the area as a sustainable tourist destination.

Promotional programmes have been implemented jointly with the Railway Department as a preliminary step to attract local and foreign tourists.

A special weekend tourist train service will operate to boost the tourist industry in the Seethawaka/Avissawella areas and online bookings will be available from January 29.

Speaking to the media, Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said, “Visitors will travel to the Waga Railway Station by train and then visit the Kalatuwawa, Labugama Reservoir and Seethawaka Wetland Parks using a shuttle bus service. We must educate local and foreign tourists about such tourist areas and promote such tours among foreigners who visit Colombo for a one-day or two-day stay. They plan to promote new tourist destinations in the Colombo District.

“The Government is focusing on bringing more foreign tourists to Sri Lanka and attention is focused on bringing tourists from Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake to the Seethawaka Tourist Zone under a special package. Both local and foreign tourists are taken to this tourist area from Colombo Fort.”

Western Province Tourism Board Chairman Sugath Hewapathirana said the “Seethawaka Valley near the Kelani River has the most beautiful ecosystem in the Colombo District.

“The ancient Seethawaka Kingdom has great historical importance and his home to many tourist attractions such as traditional arts, cultural and archaeological sites. People of Colombo and other areas are aware of this importance and now they can have more enjoyment by visiting this area. New avenues of investment are opened through the existing tourism industry in the area.”

“We are working to start a new project focusing on the Kelani Valley Railway to develop the tourist industry in a more systematic manner. Tourist trains such as Ella Odyssey and Kandy Odyssey, operated by the Railways Department are in great demand and have become very popular among travellers. The Seethawaka Odyssey is another weekend tourist train service that has been launched. Passengers coming from Colombo to Waga by train will be provided with travel facilities from there by a combined Sri Lanka Transport Board and private transport service,” he said.

Members of Parliament Yadamini Gunawardena, Madhura Withanage, Pradeep Undugoda, Western Province Chief Secretary Pradeep Yasaratne, Tourism Ministry Secretary Chulananda Perera, Western Province Tourist Board Chairman Sugath Hewapathirana, representatives of the Railway Department, Ceylon Transport Board and many other institutions related to the project together with representatives from Local Government bodies were present for the inaugural tour.

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