From left: AGSEG Legal Officer Shania Dilhani, AGSEG Public Relation Sithara Chathurangi, AGSEG CEO Dr. Dietmar Doering, AGSEG Research Senior Citizens Partner Dr. Tissa Jayaweera and German Tourist Elina Gansweith
By Divya Thotawatte
Asian German Sports Exchange Program (AGSEP), a local non-commercial government-associated organisation recently shed light upon some key insights on obstacles which hinder growth and economic benefits of the tourism industry of the country.
The research done with a requested sample size of 665 tourists noted that Sri Lanka remains an underperforming destination when compared to other popular Asian tourist destinations. The report said that the tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka being approximately two million is comparatively low since other Asian countries enjoy a much larger amount of tourist arrivals.
Citing an example the report states that, Thailand’s Pattaya, through events and sports grew its visitors from 6.2 million arrivals in 2007 to 9.2 million in 2015. Similarly, through the development of reciprocal sports exchange programs with Malaysia’s Langkawi Local Authority, Sri Lanka too can increase its visitor ratio.
Depicting the important relationship between the country’s travel and tourism contribution to GDP, citing a 2014 World Travel and Tourism Council Report, AGSEP notes Sri Lanka is placed a dismal 73 with the tourism share being only 11.1% towards the GDP. According to AGSEP Research CEO Dietmar Doering, when comparing Sri Lanka and Vietnam as a destination, although both countries showcase similar preconditions for tourism, in terms of tourist arrivals Sri Lanka dismally lags behind. He said that an increase in tourist arrivals will positively influence the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP.
Doering also stated that the misconception of ‘Off Season’ in Sri Lanka also contributes to the hindering of tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka. “Foreign tourist operators use the terms ‘raining season’ or ‘monsoon season’ to clients and this drives them away because the first thing that comes to their minds is a picture of dangerous floods and death,” he said. He stated that AGSEP, based on a study done in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, had found that 80% of the visitors experienced no negative effects as a result of the onset of the monsoon season.
Moreover, AGSEP also suggested that Sri Lanka use social media in an effective way to boost tourism while developing marinas to attract more tourists to the beautiful beaches of the island.
Throughout the years, AGSEP’s research arm has helped in conducting and collaborating on several noteworthy scientific studies and surveys. These include an IDP study in collaboration with the Ministry of Rehabilitation, Resettlement, and Refugees and UNHCR, social impacts of sport events in divided societies, water fear study, impacts of the Tsunami on behaviour/increasing fear factors related to oceans, lakes and rivers, research study on nautical tourism and research study on ‘Global senior citizens’ with Sri Lanka as a second home.
Pic by Lasantha Kumara