Stakeholders confident of tourism sector recovery, suggest way forward

Monday, 24 June 2019 00:51 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Non-Cabinet Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Dr. Harsha de Silva (left) addresses the audience. Also pictured: ICCSL Chairman and panel moderator Dinesh Weerakkody (centre) and Vallibel One Group Chairman/MD Dhammika Perera

Business tycoon Dhammika Perera on Saturday suggested the private sector must do their own campaigns without waiting for the Tourism Board’s PR and advertising campaign to kick off in July. 

He noted that arrivals had increased from around 500 a day in April to about 2000 a day. However, a lot needs to be done, especially on the promotions and security side, to give confidence to the world that Sri Lanka is now back to normal, Perera noted. 

Non-Cabinet Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Dr. Harsha de Silva, commenting on the relief package, noted that around Rs. 170 billion had been given by way of moratoriums so far. 

Harpo’s Hotels, Cafés, and Restaurants CEO Harpo Gooneratne, however, expressed his frustration at certain security arrangements in the city. He said parking is still not allowed near the Dutch Hospital. “How can we do business if people are not allowed to park?” he asked. 

These industry leaders spoke at a seminar organised by the Alumni Association of the Tourism Economics and Hospitality Management (AATHEM) and the Students of the Tourism Study Programs of the Department of Economics, University of Colombo, International Tourism Research Conference (ITRC) – Industry and Research Forum in parallel to Sancharaka Udawa, partnering with the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) together with Sri Lanka Tourism. 

It was held on 22 June at the BMICH, on the theme ‘Integrated Recovery Strategies for Tourism Development in Sri Lanka: Actions Speak Louder Than Words.’  

Other panellists were Hemas Holdings PLC Director Abbas Esufally and A.G.S.E.P. RESEARCH Head Dr. Dietmar Döring. The session was moderated by International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody. 

Several references were made to the Egypt and Bali attacks and the measures taken by those governments to re-establish normalcy. In general, the panellists noted the need for the national airline to play a bigger role and to bring down the costs of airport handling charges to make the destination more competitive, expressing confidence that Sri Lanka would rebound fast if the situation is managed professionally.