'IIFA has Helped Sri Lanka's Image as Safe Nation'

'IIFA has Helped Sri Lanka's Image as Safe Nation'
Actor Vivek Oberoi, who extended his IIFA trip here to help in the rehabilitation in Sri Lanka's war-ravaged areas, says the presence of Bollywood stars has helped country's image as a safe destination.

The country is keen to repair an image battered by the civil war that lasted for close to three decades.

The government rolled out red carpet to Bollywood stars for the India International Academy Awards (IIFA) gala but big names like Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan boycotted the event over protests by Tamil bodies in India.

However, Oberoi said the presence of Bollywood stars will help spread the goodwill.

"You have had many global celebrities come down to Sri Lanka on one platform and endorse your nation and enhance your brand value. These are things that are immeasurable in terms of value. So many fans across the globe suddenly wake up and say wow my favourite star. He went to Sri Lanka. Vivek Oberoi went there with his family. That means it is safe," Oberoi told reporters.

Oberoi visited Sri Lanka's former war-ravaged Vavuniya city and other areas in the district to begin a rehabilitation project there. He, along with his parents, travelled to Vavuniya by air and was accompanied by Abeywardena.

The Company actor held discussions with the District Secretary of Vavuniya, NGOs and the displaced and resettled civilians.

Later he visited resettled people in Nedunkerni in Vavuniya district. The actor is reportedly planning to build a school there with the help of local and Bollywood artistes.

Deputy Economic Development Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywarden said the award show had generated a lot of good will for Sri Lanka.

"As many as 610 million people in 110 countries will watch the IIFA award ceremony on July 4. Our target is to increase the number of (global) tourists by 50 per cent by 2012. We will achieve our target," Yapa said.

"In the end it is not a question of who arrived or not. What is important is the message that was sent to the world stating there is a conducive atmosphere in Sri Lanka for such an event to be held and anyone could visit the country and spend a holiday in a peaceful atmosphere," the minister added.
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