Wednesday, 26 January 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about backpackers and Sri Lankan tourism. The question I raised was why don’t we have a proper plan to encourage this form of tourism and most importantly what we need to know is the size of this market and its spend.

It’s well-known that countries like Australia has developed this branch of tourism to a level that it has become a lucrative segment and there was even information on the net that they spent four times as much as the regular tour groups.

The only problem that we need to get over is our perception of these people as they cannot be judged on appearance alone. Be that as it may, I saw another interesting tourism concept in last Tuesday’s newspapers (yesterday) about Sri Lanka Tourism launching home stay programmes.

The Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism is quoted in the article as saying, “This is a different approach to provide clean, comfortable and affordable supplementary accommodation to tourists. They will have an opportunity of an engaging experience of customs, traditions, authentic cuisine and other attractions of the location, while staying with the local host, thus giving them a memorable experience during their holiday; and it will help us to reinforce one of our key pillars in positioning, the ‘authenticity’ of our tourism product.”

Kudus to you Chairman, but I have another suggestion. How about marketing timeshare with all the empty apartments in Colombo and the suburbs, which are currently going a-begging without tenants?

Timeshare is a concept of holiday ownership, which has been operating successfully for almost 30 years now. The concept itself is very simple; it lets you buy a week or weeks in a luxury holiday home for a fixed number of years or forever.

The buyer of a timeshare would effectively own a share of the development and therefore pay for the upkeep on what they actually own.
Because the overall cost of the development is split across all of the owners, a higher quality of amenities and furnishing becomes much more affordable.

According to the holidayconcepts website, costs involved in a timeshare are only the payment for the week or weeks which are purchased and an annual maintenance fee which covers each partner’s share of the upkeep of the particular accommodation, plus any central facilities such as the swimming pool.

This charge will usually be paid to a management company which will be responsible for the day-to-day running and maintenance of the development.

Timeshare or holiday ownership complexes are usually built by developers and then sold in one-week segments to a number of owners. Once the entire complex is sold, the ownership is often transferred to the owners themselves who can then elect a committee to make decisions regarding management and upkeep.

While the complex is in the process of being sold, the rights of owners are usually protected by a recognised legal structure, which makes timeshare a secure and economical way to have a good vacation anywhere in the world.

Regulation of this market is of absolute importance and this is where Sri Lanka Tourism can come in. In fact the development of all the different segments of tourism such as backpackers, timeshare, home stays, high-end, middle and budget hotels will ultimately cross fertilise one another, helping to create a well-rounded industry in Sri Lanka; an industry in which visitors as well as local holidaymakers would find more and more opportunity.

(The writer, a PR consultant and head of Media360, was previously a mainstream journalist in print and electronic media. He also edits a new media website.)

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