Coinciding with the opening of the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport on 18 March, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched the Hambantota city app developed by Microsoft. It is the first of 15 city apps to be unveiled as part of Microsoft’s ‘Window to Sri Lanka’ app development initiative aimed at promoting the country’s tourism sector.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched the Hambantota city app, the first of 15 city apps to be unveiled as part of Microsoft’s ‘Window to Sri Lanka’ initiative

The Microsoft city apps provide tourists and travelling locals a visual information guide and an interactive snapshot to key cities in Sri Lanka, including high-quality pictures and maps that serve as navigating tools. The city apps can be accessed with or without Internet, which makes them ideal for use even in remote locations where 3G and Wi-Fi network coverage is limited. The first cities covered under the ‘Windows to Sri Lanka’ exercise are Hambantota, Colombo and Anuradhapura, while the rest of the city apps will be launched in the near future.

Udana Wickramasinghe, Director-ICT, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, commended Microsoft’s effort to help boost the tourism sector, “Sri Lanka is heading towards a new era of tourism, where visitors will use the Internet as the primary medium in accessing information related to the country. Smart mobile devices will play a vital role in delivering rich content and accessibility to services such as online hotel booking to potential travellers.”

Built on the Windows 8® platform, the new Hambantota city app provides key information about Hambantota, one of the fastest developing cities in Sri Lanka. In addition to an overview of the economic potential of Hambantota, the app also provides other key information such as airline schedules, business updates and important contact details that are relevant to foreign investors.

“Although the development of the city apps is primarily focused on the tourism sector, this initiative has an investment aspect as well. For instance, Hambantota is not only a tourist attraction but also a top investment destination, particularly with the massive scale of commercial and infrastructure developments taking place across the district,” said Wellington Perera, Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) Director at Microsoft Sri Lanka, who spearheaded the initiative.

Initially built for laptops and tablets, Mr Perera added that plans are under way for the city apps to be modified into a mobile app available via the Microsoft Store and popular travel websites.

“Sri Lanka is heading towards a new era of tourism, where visitors will use the Internet as the primary medium in accessing information related to the country.”

- Udana Wickramasinghe, Director-ICT, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority