Sri Lanka Tourism embarks on biggest stakeholder consultation

Thursday, 7 May 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



  • Seeks proposals for post-COVID-19 revival from 34 national and regional associations  for consideration before submitting to Cabinet 

Sri Lanka Tourism has embarked on its biggest-ever stakeholder consultation to chart the industry’s way forward amidst major challenges worldwide post-COVID-19.

Chairperson Kimarli Fernando has written to 34 industry associations, at national and regional level, seeking proposals by 12 May for consideration.

The move follows Tourism and Aviation Minister Prasanna Ranatunga directing SL Tourism early this week to submit proposals for the revival of the industry, short, medium and long-term in the aftermath of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has disrupted global travel and tourism in an unprecedent manner. Short listed submissions will be considered for recommendation to the Cabinet for approval. 

For Sri Lanka, Fernando had emphasised to the stakeholders, that COVID-19 was a double blow coming soon after the Easter Sunday attacks of April 2019.

“Tourism in Sri Lanka suffered a major blow from which we were still recovering. COVID-19 has damaged the industry even further,” she pointed out. “In the current global climate, the entire tourism industry has come to a standstill with all stakeholders severely affected,” she added.

Fernando said Sri Lanka Tourism is deeply aware of the wider socioeconomic impact of this pandemic, with livelihoods at risk and unemployment.  

It was noted that the Government preparedness for this pandemic was commendable and the global recognition Sri Lanka has received gives the country an opportunity to share Sri Lanka’s deep-rooted history of wellness with the world. 

“As a nation, we have much to offer in terms of our tranquil tourist experiences, Hela Wedakhama Wellness Tourism, heritage spices and traditions. Our nation prides itself in its hospitality and focus on wellbeing. In a post-pandemic world, there is scope for greater appreciation of all our nation has to offer,” Fernando said.

Despite the obvious economic setbacks in source markets in the aftermath of COVID-19, travellers’ desire to explore the world will be higher than ever before, she observed.

“When safe air travel protocols are established, we can expect visitors to return. It could be said that Sri Lanka never took full advantage of tourism. Lack of promotion meant that higher spending travellers were possibly not adequately aware of our tourist product.  COVID-19 provides us an opportunity for tourism in Sri Lanka to reprofile itself when the time is right,” Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson has told all stakeholders in her letter seeking proposals for the industry revival.

Noting that it was likely that as travel resumes, crowded cities and heavily populated urban areas will take longer to recover compared to pristine, isolated, rural sites which make up much of the Sri Lanka tourism product.

“It is therefore important for us not to focus on numbers but revenue and to address the current shortcomings in our tourism product which deter the higher revenue from tourism,” Fernando said, adding inputs from all stakeholders Sri Lanka will once again be able to share the beauty of the country with foreign travellers across the globe and welcome them with an Ayubowan – wishing “long life” to all.

Proposals have been sought from The Hotel Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL), Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism in Sri Lanka (ASMET), Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association (CHSGA), Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition and Event Organisers (SLAPCEO),  National Tourist Drivers Association, National Tourist Guide Lecturers Association, Chauffer Tourist Guide Lecturers Association, Chef Guild, Anuradhapura Hoteliers Association, Kandy Hoteliers Association, Bentota Beruwala Hoteliers Association, Hikkaduwa Hoteliers Association, Negombo Tourist Hoteliers Association, Cultural Triangle Hoteliers Association, Kalutara Tourist Hoteliers Association, Hoteliers of South and Deep South, Colombo City Hoteliers Association, Mt. Lavinia Hoteliers Association, East Coast Hoteliers Association of Sri Lanka, N’Eliya Hoteliers Association, Sri Lanka Bus Association, Lanka Tourist Drivers and Assistants Association, Yala Jeep Owners Association, Independent Safari Jeep Association, Tissamaharama Yalagama Jeep Society, Kadirapura Safari Jeep Society, Save the Yala Jeep Drivers Association, Hotel Suppliers Association, Tourism Service Providers Association, Independent Safari Jeep Association Udawalawa, Colombo City Restaurant Collective Association and the Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance.