Sri Lanka Tourism signs MoU with Australia’s MDF on Unawatuna Beach Development

Friday, 10 November 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Australian Government-supported Market Development Facility (MDF), to collaborate on a comprehensive development program for the Unawatuna beach.

Unawatuna, a key tourist destination in the Southern province, will be developed as a pilot project for a comprehensive, market-based livelihood development program, with a special focus on employment generation and economic empowerment.

The proposed program will serve to ‘centralise’ the market players of Unawatuna, a colourful but scattered market landscape of vendors and hoteliers of varying scales, in a way that is beneficial to all. They will also be encouraged to operate around the clock to better utilise the market opportunities, which also includes a night market. 

The proposed program will transform the Unawatuna beach into a major attraction for tourists visiting across the Southern coastal belt as well as for the domestic tourists from Colombo as it gives them an opportunity to experience Sri Lankan street food and purchase crafts while engaging with the local economy.

It will also empower the community in the area and open up new economic and employment opportunities.

This is the first step in a larger tourism strategy by the SLTDA to set up a network of ‘micro destinations’ across the island, in line with the government’s ambition of systematically and proactively engaging in planning destinations, as indicated in the new Tourism Strategic Plan 2017-2020.

“An apex tourism body like the SLTDA has the ability to make potentially catalytic innovations in the market, which is why MDF, and the Australian Government, have a keen interest in collaborating with them. The SLTDA has great scope and access to a wide range of tourism businesses, and a night market would be an ideal way of exploring the potential of coastal destination beyond their traditional attractions,” said Shahroz Jalil, Country Representative of the Australian Government-supported Market Development Facility (MDF), speaking at a signing ceremony held at the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), on Tuesday (7).

The MDF program in Sri Lanka is affiliated with the Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs and shares the Ministry’s mandate to diversify tourism and related sectors in Sri Lanka.

MDF also works closely with the Sri Lankan private sector, focusing on business innovation to make tourism gains more inclusive by drawing in more young people and women into the industry and connecting poor households with high-value tourist markets. MDF already works with selected tourism players in Sri Lanka to this end. Commenting on the agreement, SLTDA Chairman Kavan Ratnayake said, “Tourism in Sri Lanka has so far been growing opportunistically, and this has proved successful. But the next big step for us is to develop sustainable tourism destinations systematically, so that resources can be allocated where they can deliver the greatest benefit. And it’s important that we start key projects like this as triggers for future industry growth.”