Sri Lanka, Anyone?

How I ended up in a meeting about Sri Lanka’s wildlife and the all of the things I learned…

If you want to read the story about how I accidentally ended up in this meeting, continue reading here. If you’re just interested in Sri Lankas wildlife and don’t care to have a laugh at my expense, skip this section and start at “Part 2”..

Part 1

OK, for those of you who want to read my story. Let me tell you a little about WTM London. First of all, it’s MASSIVE. Two huge halls filled with industry leaders, marketing professionals and executives from around the world, mostly wearing suits. Then there’s me, travel blogger from Florida. Big pond, little baby fish.

WTM, for the first time, can be completely overwhelming. There are so many booths to see, people to meet and conferences to attend. My first day strategy was to attend some of the conferences, and just get generally familiar with the place. Then I’d have the remaining two days for meetings. Easy, right? Well things don’t always go as planned.

My first conference of the day was over, so I was taking some time to stretch my legs and have a look around. I was walking past the Sri Lanka booth, which was always brimming with excitement, dancing and music…

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and I saw someone I remembered meeting in the press room that morning. He had told me earlier about an exciting event at this booth today. SriLankan Airlines was highlighting their work with Whale and Dolphin Conservation and the main guest was an author who recently wrote a book on wildlife in Sri Lanka.. I thought, “Perfect! I’ll go to that next.”

I go up to the gentleman that I had met that morning and ask about the conference. He goes upstairs to check on something, and I’m thinking, “Great, it’s so full he’s making sure there’s still room. I can just slip in the back. Easy.” I was so wrong. He comes back and ushers me upstairs into this room with 3 other people. THREE!Β Everyone there was either associated with the Airline or the book. In total, it ended up being a marketing person and the chairman (the chairman!) of the airline, two people associated with the book and the author…

The room felt like it was 100 degrees, and it seemed like I couldn’t think of a single articulate thing to say. Everyone was perfectly nice, though, and I’m really glad I went. I learned quite a bit by sitting back while they exchanged dialogue about the future of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry and I now have a strong desire to visit. Something a friend of mine said afterwards was, “you may be a little fish in a big pond, but at least you’re in the pond.” Wise words, I think. At least they made me feel better.

Anyway, moving onto Sri Lanka…

Part 2…

Just like that, I’ve added Sri Lanka to my list of “must-see places.” The author was Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne.

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He wrote this book about the diversity of Sri Lankan wildlife. Most people know about Sri Lanka’s elephants and some might also know about their leopards, but did you also know that it is also a fantastic whale and marine life observation destination? Nearly 25 cetacean (whales, dolphins, porpoises etc.) can be found off the Sri Lankan shores. There aren’t many countries that could offer to take you on an elephant safari in the morning and whale watching tour in the evening.

SriLanka Airlines has launched project BLUEprint in conjunction with Whale and Dolphin Conservation, to ensure this newly budding tourism industry develops in a way that is both good for the local economy and the wildlife. They’ll be selling these plush toys on their flights to raise money for the cause…

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Each box has the name and markings of a blue whale that has been known to frequent the area. This post isn’t sponsored by SriLankan Airlines in any way, I just think it’s great when businesses get involved in their local communities.

So, who’s coming with me to Sri Lanka?

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