Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena visited the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium yesterday to inspect the progress of the work where the Micromax IIFA awards will take place on June 5. Sri Lanka Tourism Managing Director Dileep Mudadeniya is also in the picture. Picture by Ruwan de Silva
Economic Development Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said hosting the 11th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards is not only a prestige to the country but it is an event which can have a positive effect in Sri Lanka’s development scheme as well.
“It is calculated that around 600 million viewers watch the event on television,” he said.
“More than 300 foreign media from over 110 countries will be present to cover the event. This will have a positive effect on the country’s image. Foreign countries especially from the west will realize that Sri Lanka is able to stage such a grand scale event without any problems,” he said.
According to Abeywardena, one reason Sri Lanka was chosen as the Micromax IIFA awards venue is due to the cultural similarities between Sri Lanka and India.
He said each year countries have to bid for the award ceremony to be staged in their country. In the past IIFAs have been celebrated in London, Sun City, Johannesburg, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Amsterdam, Yorkshire and Bangkok. IIFA celebrated its 10th anniversary in Macau last year. Sri Lanka was selected to host this year’s event out of around nine countries.
“This gives us an opportunity to show the world what Sri Lanka has to offer. Tourism is our most rapid developing sector. IIFA will add a boost to the sector. We are expecting a 50 percent increase of Indians who will visit this country next year due to the coverage that the island is getting through this event. It would have cost us around Rs. 4,625 million to launch a promotional campaign regarding the peaceful atmosphere and resources that Sri Lanka has to offer. With the IIFA Awards being staged in the country we can send across that message free,” he added.
Around 2,650 hotel rooms in Colombo have been booked for the event. Hotels from Colombo to Bentota will accompany visitors.
“Not only Colombo, but even other areas will benefit from the event. More than 300 Indian multi- millionaires will take part in the business forum. We are hoping to discuss with Habitat for Humanity on building 100 houses at the IIFA village in Kilinochchi. The fashion show and fund raising cricket match will bring more exposure so that we will gain more rather than the amount we spend,” Abeywardena noted. He said Rs. 1,700 million profit will be obtained through the high-profiled event that will unfold in the city from June 3 to 5.
Monitoring the progress of the new outlook of the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, he said the stadium will be revamped in such a manner so that it could be marketed to mega scale events in the future. Apart from the main venues, road development and airport decorations are also under way.