- Two-year strategy aims to streamline industry keeping in line with President’s National Policy Framework
- Proposes new Act to merge three tourism institutions for effective management
- Identifies 10 priority areas, 6 transformational themes, 4 pain points, 17 key tourism activities
- Appoints special task force to deal with key issues pertaining to development of sector
By Charumini de Silva
Sri Lanka Tourism presented a two-year action based strategic outlook for the sector which also included a proposal to bring in a new Act to merge three tourism institutions of the four organisations for effective management and to reform the industry. ‘Tourism Strategic Action Plan 2020-2022’ was presented last week to the top officials of the Tourism Ministry, Sri Lanka Tourism, 49 associations affiliated to the industry to exchange views for a greater revival post-pandemic.
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority’s (SLTDA) forum last week saw Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando and SLTDA Director General Dhammika Wijayasinghe, University of Colombo Tourism Economics Department Prof. Suranga de Silva and 49 associations affiliated to tourism industry.
The two-year strategy aligning with the National Policy Framework ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ has identified 10 priority areas, six transformational themes, four pain points and 17 tourism activities as new attractions.
Presenting the Strategic Action Plan 2020-2022, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando said work has already commenced on streamlining the tourism sector with plans underway to propose to the Government to bring an Act to amalgamate three tourism organisations of the four that comes under Sri Lanka Tourism to effectively manage the institutions and implement the 2020-2022 strategy.
“The work on the strategy began in January, after consulting all tourism stakeholders that include associations, Provincial Councils, Governors and every university that teaches tourism. Tourism Strategy 2020-2022 was made with the inputs from all stakeholders. We appreciate further suggestions to reform the industry and it will then be finalised. The Ministry Secretary will then make it formal,” she said.
It was also noted that information from the Tourism Strategy 2017-2020 was also taken into consideration in compilation of the new strategy.
Fernando outlined six transformational themes to increase institutional performance, governance and regulations, improve market understanding and visitor segmentation, improve communication across marketing channels, lift industry standards at all touch points, infrastructure development, develop and plan new destinations, signature tourism experience, getting provincial officers to help with registrations and regional promotions.
Coordination failures, market failures, institutional failures, resource failures (finance/human resources) and investment shortcomings have been identified as four key pain points and was of the view that it needs to be addressed for the effective implementation of the new Tourism Strategic Action Plan 2020-2022.
In addition, 17 key tourism activities have also been identified as new attractions in the country for tourists. She said that currently work is underway to improve MICE tourism, development of attractions, service centres, immigration and emigration facilities, streamlining processes, expanding training schools, community-based tourism, wellness tourism, high-quality service, working with Tourist Police to minimise harassment of tourists in this regard.
Keeping in line with the National Policy Framework focused on utilising technology, Fernando said that SLTDA has successfully implemented a registration process which operates 100% online at present.
“Our aim is to build a value driven National Tourism Strategy,” she added.
Sri Lanka Tourism Chief also asserted that they were looking for multi donors such as United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), World Bank, European Union (EU) for SMEs and Asian Development Bank (ADB) to fund some of these projects.
In addition, she said they currently work with the Australian Aid program through S4IG – Skills for Inclusive Growth for the implementation of a ‘Pandemic Preparedness’ course with the direction of SLTDA targeting the SMEs of the hospitality industry.
A special task force was also appointed to deal with key issues pertaining to the development of the sector and bring in effective policies to resolve them. The taskforce is headed by Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi along with Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando, SLTDA Director General Dhammika Wijayasinghe and University of Colombo Tourism Economics Department Prof. Suranga de Silva.