A veteran hospitality and tourism industry professional has been appointed as honorary consultant to the Ministry of Tourism Development with special focus on Germany and the European Continent. Minister of Tourism Development John Amaratunga officially presented the letter of appointment to Nihal Samarasinha at a special event in Colombo last evening.

Samarasinha who has wide experience in the European tourism and hospitality industry presently serves as Sri Lanka’s Honorary Consul in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. Speaking at the event Minister Amaratunga noted that Samarasinha was a great fit for the role given his impeccable credentials. “Samarasinha is an asset to Sri Lanka and the time is right to tap his wealth of experience for the benefit of the country. Sri Lanka Tourism must make use of this golden opportunity by leveraging his knowledge of the European market to promote Sri Lanka,” said Minister Amaratunga.

Emphasising the importance of focusing on the European market Minister Amaratunga said that Europeans were traditionally identified as good spenders and demanded high standards. “Before the influx of the Indian and Chinese tourists it was the Europeans that formed the bedrock of our tourism industry. Even during the 30 year war the Europeans never stopped coming. Today with so many hotels coming up we need to redouble our efforts to attract more Europeans to our country. It is with this in mind that I made this appointment,” said Minister Amaratunga.

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Samarasinha, a distinguished alumnus of St. Joseph’s College Colombo ventured on his own to Europe way back in 1972 to join the hospitality industry. Starting at the bottom he quickly rose up the ranks to senior management positions in leading international chains some of which include Intercontinental Hotels, Holiday Inn, Canadian Pacific and Ramada. He crowned an extremely successful career by becoming Vice President of Ramada International.

Having risen to the top as a hotelier he then succeeded in building a hospitality empire of his own. Today he is the Chairman and Managing Director of Millennium Hospitality International based in Germany which owns and operates six properties under international brands such as Ramada, Mercure Hotels, Clarion Collection, Comfort Hotels, Hotel Savigny and United Hostels.

Samarasinha has been actively promoting Sri Lanka as a preferred destination for holiday makers. He is a regular visitor at all the top international travel fairs and trade exhibitions. In recognition of his efforts he was appointed as an Honorary Ambassador for Tourism Promotion in 2009. Subsequently he was appointed as an Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in Germany.

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Welcoming the appointment, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Paddy Withana said that Sri Lanka was fortunate to have the services of a professional of the calibre of Samarasinha who is a respected figure in Europe. “Having him onboard to promote Sri Lanka in that region is a huge bonus for Sri Lanka Tourism,” he noted.

Expressing his delight at receiving the new appointment, Samarasinha said he will go to any length to “expose Sri Lanka as the best value proposition in global tourism. First off, I want to help the Sri Lankans based in Europe who are already promoting Sri Lanka. I will help, guide and support them to grow their businesses. I will leave no stone unturned in leading the charge to establish Sri Lanka as a top destination in the European market,” he said.

This article originally appears on DailyFT.

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