Private sector ready for Geneva?

Monday, 3 March 2014 01:17 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lanka’s private sector must be sensitive to the global realities that Sri Lanka is challenged with and ask how it can support or develop alternative strategies like for instance post ‘Geneva’ in March so that the current growth agenda can be maintained, said business personality and a respected thought leader in Sri Lanka Rohantha Athukorala at the SLAPCEO – Sri Lanka’s Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition and Event – organisers’ second AGM that was held at Cinnamon Lakeside. The key stakeholders of the tourism industry gathered to discuss how Sri Lanka can be competitive in the MICE market. In 2013, around 130,000 foreign visitors have come to Sri Lanka in this segment of business which was up from the 80,000 registered the year before. Athukorala, who sits on many policy making national boards whilst serving the private sector, reminded that the industry that benefited the most post the war was the tourism industry and now the industry needs to support Sri Lanka in the ‘Geneva Challenge’. He went on to cite how way back in the 1990s Sri Lanka registered 337,000 tourists whilst Cambodia at that had only a 200,000 odd visitors. Today Cambodia attracts over a 2.1 million guests whilst we have just crossed one million in number. If one computes the loss to the privates sector in the 30 year war, the value exceeds six billion dollars which is what post-2009 Sri Lanka has caught up. Now we need to brace ourselves to the new challenge that we might be up against post Geneva and private sector must shoulder this responsibility for the country, said Athukorala. He urged the private sector to meet as an industry, be it tourism, exports or foreign investment, and develop strategies on how we can continue the current growth trajectory by looking and optional markets and consumers. Sri Lanka has always been resilient to global challenges and we will always develop new ways of working, commented Athukorala.