In a hard-hitting evaluation of the industry’s performance, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando yesterday criticised stakeholders for failing to realise the full potential, when steps were being taken to change the system that hindered best opportunities for growth in the past.
“It is not an easy task to bring in system changes in institutions like Sri Lanka Tourism, where people have worked for over 25 to 30 years. During the past seven months, we have worked towards improvement in system procedures to curb the corruption that was going on,” Fernando told a meeting of all stakeholders of tourism yesterday.
Noting that there are 49 associations affiliated to the tourism industry, Fernando pointed out that a couple of organisations cannot claim they are veterans in the sector while a majority of the stakeholders have not benefited.
“The ongoing system changes within the tourism industry has caused a lot of irritation to some, and we see them coming through in many ways. Sri Lanka Tourism is concerned about the entire industry and it has over two million dependants. Therefore, one or two associations cannot be veterans in the industry,” she stressed.
Fernando said Sri Lanka Tourism has looked at new initiatives that will ensure sustainable continuity of the industry, as well as its stakeholders, such as introducing an insurance and pension scheme.
“The Ministry Secretary, Director General and I as the Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism are qualified and capable of delivering results. The three of us know what we have to do. We have joined the public sector from the private sector for the utmost trust we have in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” she said.
The Sri Lanka Tourism chief told the industry not to further delay achieving its true potential, and called on them to collectively support to be part of the success story.
“Many of the players in the industry have overlooked its cornerstones of fairness and equity. Going forward, we must consider future trends of technology and people in taking the sector to next heights,” she added.
The meeting with stakeholders, the first all-encompassing initiative, was to introduce Sri Lanka Tourism’s short to medium term plans conceptualised based on recommendations. A draft strategy document was shared for further feedback before finalising for implementation.