Tourism unites people, creates economic opportunities: PM Modi

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Colombo, Mar. 13 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday who is on his two-day visit to Sri Lanka said that tourism unites people and creates economic opportunities.

” Tourism unites people and createseconomic opportunities. India is already the biggest source of tourists here. We will work together to increase that flow,” Prime Minister Modi said while speaking at the Business Meeting hosted by the Ceylon Chambers of Commerce.

“I also believe that when we connect the lives of people, we strengthen the bonds between nations. We have extended visa on arrival facility to Sri Lanka from April 14. We should do more to connect our countries by air and sea. India and Sri Lanka were, in some ways, better connected in the past than we are now. In the past, a person could buy a rail ticket in Colombo and travel to Chennai by rail and ferry. Air India’s decision to launch direct flight between our capitals will help reverse that trend,” he added.

Further, the Prime Minister said that India’s progress would give its neighbours opportunities for the same.

“Our development partnership has injected commitments of USD 1.6 billion in assistance from India. That has helped rebuild and upgrade infrastructure in Sri Lanka. Today, we have offered another Line of Credit of about USD 318 million for the railways sector. Reserve Bank of India has agreed to provide Central Bank of Sri Lanka a currency swap arrangement for USD 1.5 billion. This will increase the stability of Sri Lankan Rupee,” he said.

“It is not just in development partnership. We will also be supportive in advancing your commercial interests. I believe in Sri Lanka’s capabilities. We should engage more. We should open up to each other more. We should move forward with greater belief in our own strengths; more trust in each other; and, with more confidence in the fruits of our partnership. Sri Lanka has the potential to be our most important economic partner in the region. We count on your support to make it happen,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi expressed his delight to be in Colombo and said that India is privileged to be Sri Lanka’s development partner.

He also called for a long term solution to the fishermen issue, stating that it involves livelihood and humanitarian concerns on both sides.

Prime Minister Modi also thanked Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena for choosing India as the destination for his first trip abroad since taking office.

(ANI)

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