Business missionA group of 20 delegates representing 13 innovative New Zealand companies arrived in Colombo yesterday for a three-day visit to continue forging business and trade links with Sri Lanka.

The delegates were welcomed by a Kandyan troupe of traditional dancers and drummers. In Maori culture it is customary for the visitors to respond to a welcome with speeches, singing and a haka. Te Puna Manawa, a Maori culture group based in the United Arab Emirates, responded to the welcome on behalf of the New Zealand delegation.

Minister John Amaratunga was present to personally welcome the delegation, the fourth to visit Sri Lanka in as many years, along with Sri Lanka’s Honorary Consul for New Zealand Senaka Silva.

The delegation was led by New Zealand Trade Commissioner for Sri Lanka, Ralph Hays, who said: “We’re proud to have been able to respond in kind to your traditional welcome. Our traditions and cultures are what sets us apart on the world stage and when you visit New Zealand, just like when you visit Sri Lanka, the hospitality you receive from the tangata whenua, or local people, leaves a lasting impression.” Tourism is New Zealand’s number one export earner with nearly 190,000 people directly employed by the tourism industry in New Zealand. People often come to New Zealand for the scenery and outdoor activities whether it’s tasting wine on Waiheke Island or taking a leap of faith at the Nevis Bungy jump in

Central Otago, but it’s the experience people enjoy that keeps them coming back. Over the years New Zealand has developed expertise in food service and food production, environmental management, infrastructure design and development, as well as education and training – areas that have allowed New Zealand’s tourism sector and others to flourish. As one of the first countries with a dedicated Ministry of Tourism, Tourism New Zealand has invested heavily in attracting tourists to New Zealand. 

With their award-winning 100% Pure New Zealand campaign well recognised around the world, Tourism New Zealand has been focused on attracting tourists throughout the year to ease pressure on hotspots during peak seasons.

Tourism New Zealand has partnered with the Department of Conservation to develop world-class experiences and increase visitor awareness of the range of experiences available in New Zealand.

“Like Sri Lanka, we’re proud of our natural environment and want to see it preserved for everyone to enjoy. We feel there are many areas of opportunity, such as sustainable tourism development, for New Zealand and Sri Lanka to collaborate and to share expertise. We’re happy to be back in Colombo again – this is our fourth visit in recent years and it’s pleasing to see the Sri Lanka and New Zealand connection strengthening. Thank you for the generous welcome and we look forward to a positive and productive three days,” said Hays.

Minister John Amaratunga said he looked forward to when the New Zealand High Commission opens in Colombo in 2019 and the visit of the trade mission would further cement ties between the two countries. 

“Sri Lanka enjoys a strong relationship with New Zealand and it’s great to see New Zealand business looking at Sri Lanka. On the tourism front arrivals from New Zealand grew 14 percent last year and we would like to see such robust growth in the next few years, especially in the high-end adventure tourism category, where New Zealand is a world leader. I believe Sri Lanka has much to learn from New Zealand Tourism and would like to see greater collaboration in the aspect of professional education and know-how on developing our own tourism assets which are of a similar nature,” the Minister observed during his keynote address.

“Tourism receipts from New Zealand have the potential to ease the trade balance which is now very much in favour of New Zealand. Therefore I earnestly request all of you to promote Sri Lanka not only for tourism but investment as well. With Sri Lanka entering into Free Trade Agreements with countries such as India and Singapore, New Zealand companies have the opportunity of using Sri Lanka as a manufacturing and trading base to access the vast regional market,” the Minister said.

Two-way trade between New Zealand and Sri Lanka has grown by 31% over the past three years, and is now worth NZD 367 million (Rs. 41.3 billion).  The majority of trade in goods is commodity based, but there are increasing opportunities in a variety of sectors including tourism, aviation, agriculture, electronics and education.




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