The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Türkiye arranged a Sri Lanka tourism and cultural promotional event in Adana commemorating Sri Lanka’s 75th Anniversary of Independence celebrated on 4th February 2023, establishing the Republic of Türkiye on 29th October 2023 and the 75th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Türkiye in 2023.


The world has changed much since 1948, and with technical advancements, changes in demographics, and our lifestyle the greatest burden has been on the natural capital, let it be Sri Lanka, Türkiye, or, the rest of the world. The decline in biodiversity, anomalies in weather patterns, and challenges to ensure the provision of clean water, energy, and uncontaminated food to human beings are the new devils we have to tackle together. It is not a fight we can win alone.


As per the projections of the 6th Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is clear that countries with a coastline will be hard hit and both small island nations and nations with densely populated coastal cities will be the most affected. That’s where our livelihoods that depend on the ocean will be challenged such as fisheries, port and shipping, agriculture, and tourism. These circumstances are forcing countries to come together to minimize and at least adapt to evolving situations as climate change impacts are transboundary.


Given this context, Sri Lanka can be proud of the contributions it has made over the decades, of course sometimes through trial and error, to preserve its high biodiversity, and genetic resources and to increase its potential to absorb carbon, which also contributes to the common good of the people of the planet earth, not just only those in Sri Lanka.


In this context, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Türkiye decided to organize the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Independence Day of Sri Lanka under the theme “At 75: Sri Lanka Moving Forward with Nature-based Solutions for Global Climate Change".


Although a series of Sri Lanka tourism and cultural promotional events were originally scheduled to be held in February 2023, in solidarity with the Turkish people affected by the devastating earthquake in southeastern Türkiye on 06th February 2023, the Embassy postponed all the promotional events.


Eight months after the earthquake, the first such event was arranged by the Embassy together with the Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in Adana on 13th October 2023 at Adana HiltonSA.


Two such events are being organized for the cities of Antalya and Bursa as well.


While welcoming all guests, Mr. Beşir Uğur, Hony. Consul of Sri Lanka in the Mediterranean Region, Adana, Türkiye shared his experiences about Sri Lanka as a business and tourist destination as Mr. Uğur started his business relations with Sri Lanka in the tea sector in the early 1980s as the owner of BETA Tea in Türkiye.


Mr. Yavuz Selim Köşger, the Governor of Adana delivered his remarks, as the Chief Guest. He highlighted the importance of arranging such an event in Adana to cherish the similarities and understand and embrace the differences between cultures that enrich our lives and to continue to promote tourism and culture as a means of bridging gaps to promote understanding and peace among people.


Prior to the event, Ambassador Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake called on the Governor Mr. Köşger and areas for collaboration, trade, and investment including garment, IT, renewable energy, and agricultural sectors were discussed. Governor noted a Turkish idiom “one knows who real friends are at times of peril and disasters” noting how Sri Lanka helped Türkiye in the aftermath of the earthquake and how Türkiye helped Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the tsunami.


Governor Köşger, an ardent diver, inquired about what is special or different from the Mediterranean waters than diving in Sri Lankan waters and expressed his interest in exploring undersea around Sri Lanka.


Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Türkiye delivered the keynote address by introducing Sri Lanka as a country that is well known for its Ceylon tea, gems, and true cinnamon and a land with infinite experiences for Turkish tourists. She noted that the direct flights to operate between the two countries by Turkish Airlines would increase connectivity more and would contribute positively to more and closer interactions between the two peoples, which would enhance bilateral economic cooperation for mutual benefit.


The Ambassador also mentioned that Sri Lanka is globally recognized for its advancement and commitment to contributing to mitigating climate change impact and the efforts to sustainably manage its unparalleled ecosystems, diversity, and high endemism. She added that Sri Lanka is ready to share its expertise with Türkiye too.


The event was attended by over 150 invitees attracting diverse attendees, primarily comprising officials from the public sector, including MPs from the National Assembly and local government, heads of chambers and leading private sector organizations in Adana, representatives from the tourism sector in Adana and media.


Tourism presentations, videos, Sri Lankan music, batik décor, and banners all provided a beautiful Sri Lankan ambiance.


In addition, a Sri Lankan photo exhibition depicting nature and climate change impact and culture with photos by professional award-winning photographers, Mr. Ravi Ranasinghe & Dr. Umberto Binetti and a selection of paintings by renowned Sri Lankan artist, Mr.  Vasantha Perera were displayed at the venue, together with a display of Sri Lankan gem-studded jewellery.


As the sponsor of the event, BETA Tea Company in Türkiye, served Ceylon tea at the event and showed a video clip introducing BETA tea.


Guests were also treated to sumptuous Sri Lankan delicacies together with Turkish food during the networking session while enjoying traditional and modern Sri Lankan music and songs.


It was an event to expose the people of Adana to a wide range of experiences and insights into the Sri Lankan culture and a glimpse of what Sri Lanka offers to the world, particularly to the people of Adana in Türkiye as a promising future tourist destination.