A new paradigm in Sri Lankan tourism: Way forward plan post-reopening and beyond
Bringing the best of Wellness Tourism to a domestic audience, the Sri Lanka Wellness Tourism Association (SLWTA) and the Export Development Board (EDB) concluded its third and final webinar of a tri-part series – Wellness: A New Paradigm in Sri Lankan Tourism, recently. Culminating with its final session on 10 July, a panel of high-profile industry experts comprising of Prof. Lal Chandrasena, GM, Nawaloka Hospitals; Dr. Lakith Peiris, MD, Hemas Hospitals; Dr. Shantha Godagama, President, UK Ayurvedic Medical Association; Dr. Palitha Serasinghe, Founder and Chairman of Setramed UK; Shalin Balasuriya, Co-Founder of SPA Ceylon; shared several exceptional insights, with Trevor Reckerman, Chairman, SLWTA summarising how Sri Lanka can position itself in the global wellness industry, through a well structured national action plan.
Medical tourism’s inextricable link to wellness and Sri Lanka’s unique selling points!
With a $ 600 billion global market valuation, the wellness sector grew over 6% between 2015-2017 – doubling the growth of the broader tourism industry. Anticipating an industry valuation of over $ 900 billion by 2022, market leads in the Asia Pacific are geared for the race and boasts of a lead in western medical tourism. With Thailand leading the pursuit, India and Singapore trail closely. With a strong overlap, medical tourism is a prominent component of the broader wellness tourism package, whereby medical travelers seek curative interventions. Sri Lanka is certainly a formidable opponent in this race.
Operating in a highly regulated environment, Sri Lanka offers a robust clinical governance structure in compliance with global best practices and international quality accreditations. Further accentuating its unique selling points, Sri Lanka offers highly competitive cost advantages over its regional counterparts. With a track record of excellent clinical outcomes, internationally accredited technology, complemented by globally accoladed touristic hotspots, Sri Lanka can offer a value-added package with a unique proposition to the international medical traveler.
Untapped markets, retirement villages, and Ayurveda!
As global demographics shift to a gradually aging population, governments are further pressured to invest in rigid welfare schemes. With caregiver costs ranging from around $ 2,000 a week in developed countries, it can place financially strains in the welfare system. Against this backdrop, Sri Lanka could offer a unique value proposition. Not only can we offer competitive rates, but Sri Lanka also has the ideal environment to take care of elderly needs in either a hospital setting or a home placement.
Through a right mixture of technical qualifications, trained and certified staff via international caregiver programs along with NVQ qualified candidates with exceptional communicative skills, and a conducive tropical landscape, Sri Lanka is well suited for a Retirement Village concept that caters to the elderly wellness client. The Village concept can be endorsed by the Government and supported as BOI ventures.
Independent spa operators and their contribution to the wellness ecosystem
While not often adequately recognised for their contribution, ancillary tourist services, such as wellness spas play a vital role in giving tourists a more wholesome experience. Hence, developing independent ancillary service providers has a compounding effect on the larger ecosystem. They will also play a vital role in recognising Sri Lanka as a wellness destination. Going forward, the service providers should understand that tourists visits promise more than just a massage; tourists seek a more holistic wellness experience. This experience can even be created in a smaller setting with minor tweaks to offer a cohesive brand experience that is uniquely Sri Lankan. With such tweaks to their service offering these operators can create a product that resonates with tourists, a product that a tourist would come back to, again and again!
Wellness tourism going forward, confidently!
Sri Lanka wellness tourism has been making significant strides over the past few years. Key highlights include the launch and implementation of the Sri Lanka Wellness Tourism Strategy, a focus sector of the Sri Lanka National Export Strategy. The newly formed SLWTA, and the targeted European wellness market strategy will give industry players a major opportunity to explore multiple opportunities. With more public-private stakeholders, along with the positive SLTDA interest in the sector, reforms will be accelerated through legislative frameworks, operating guidelines, and timely regulations that will be gazetted soon, to give a fresh impetus to a burgeoning sector that has strong government backing.