Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa addressed the members of The Council for Business with Britain (CBB) of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce recently.
He highlighted the vision of President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the tourism industry, the world’s largest service industry. The presentation was titled ‘Towards 2.5 million visitors by 2016 – Where are we now and a policy framework to get there’.
Dr. Godahewa pointed out that according to UNWTO, tourism in Asia Pacific region is expected to grow by 4%-6% p.a. He also highlighted some key tourism objectives of Sri Lanka. They are, positioning Sri Lanka as one of the most-sought-after tourist destinations, promoting tourism to reach annual tourist arrivals target of 2.5 m by 2016, increasing the annual foreign exchange earnings to US$ 2.75 b by 2016, attracting US$ 3 b or more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to the country within the next five years, increasing the room capacity to 45,000 by 2016 and also achieving 500,000 direct and indirect employment within the next five years.
He stated that Sri Lanka Tourism’s focus is on creating an environment conducive for tourism to attract new tourists, to improve the global perspective about Sri Lanka and most importantly to make the tourists who come here leave the country with a good impression.
He also shared the policy framework designed towards these objectives. They included infrastructure developments, projects on offer and a one stop unit established in September 2010 at the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority to support tourism-related investments.
Speaking about marketing Sri Lanka as a tourist destination, Dr. Godahewa emphasised the core strengths of Sri Lanka, being authenticity, compactness and diversity that no other country could match.
Considering the growth statistics and trends, he identified that growth potential lies in Asia and Middle East compared to Europe, therefore Sri Lanka Tourism will focus more on these regions, especially China, in the next five years. Concluding his presentation, Dr. Godahewa invited all stakeholders of the tourism industry to join hands towards one dream, ‘Refreshingly Sri Lanka – Wonder of Asia’.
CBB Chairman Nick Nicolaou delivering the concluding remarks said that the council organises a series of similar events throughout the year for the benefit of its members, ranging from luncheon meetings with guests speakers on topical interest to sporting and social activities and informed members to await details of the next CBB event; a field visit to Jaffna to explore the opportunities present in the North.