Ambassador Julie J. Chung’s remarks at the inauguration of the Hilton Yala Resort

August 31, 2023

I am so proud to be here standing as the US Ambassador to help launch this Hilton Yala Resorts today.

I’ve got to say I love the global brand that you’ve just mentioned.  I’ve seen it for the first time just now.  “You’ll come back for more.”  Well I came here ten years ago as a tourist.  I was pregnant, and I climbed every step up to Sigiriya, and I came back for more.  And recently my son and I, my ten year old son and I climbed up Sigiriya together to enjoy the splendors of the beauty of Sri Lanka.

And, as a life-long Hilton Honors member, I’ve been a long-time fan of the Hilton family staying in dozens of Hiltons around the world. So we’re so happy to see this global brand here in such a great way in Sri Lanka.

Now the country has gone through some very difficult times, the tourism industry has gone through some very difficult times recently, but with the commitment of the government, with the start of the IMF program reforms, grit, perseverance and resilience, Sri Lanka is coming back.  Coming back to welcome back tourists and investors and friends ever more.

Now the Hilton brand name was started 104 years ago by Conrad Hilton with its first hotel in Dallas, Texas.  From Dallas to Yala, Sri Lanka.  Who would have thought that?  And now with almost 600 locations in 94 countries, it is a brand that has a global reputation.  That’s why it’s so important today for Hilton to show its commitment to Sri Lanka.

And as we stand here during this year of the 75th anniversary of US-Sri Lankan relations, not only do we celebrate people, progress and partnership and the strong relationship of the governments of Sri Lanka and the United States, but the education to education ties, the cultural ties, people to people, and tonight the education, trade and investment ties, and commercial ties, ever more tonight.  And that’s why I am committed, once again, the United States is committed once again in the 75th year anniversary of our relationship, for the next 75 years to come to help grow your prosperity, the prosperity of Sri Lanka.  And we hope many, many people come back and experience Sri Lanka again and again.

Thank you.