By Cheranka Mendis
To maximise the post-war upturn Sri Lanka Tourism will launch a five year master plan this week.
“The five year master plan also known as the ‘tourism development plan’ will outline the next steps forward as seen by the industry,” Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Nalaka Godahewa said.
Scheduled to cover the period from 2011 to 2016, the plan will help the industry in their efforts to move forward and embrace the targeted number of 2.5 million tourists by the end of the period.
Godahewa speaking at the fourth ‘Sri Lanka Tourism Awards’ for 2010 said the plan would put forward a wide array of visions and decisions to help the journey forward an easier one.
“It holds a collective set of ideas, visions and goals put forward by the industry, academics and other parties that share interest in the tourism industry over the years. We have reviewed them, analysed them and have put forward a vision that would guide us for the next five years,” the Chairman added. He added that what is important at present was to create an environment conducive for the sector to grow as expected. Political framework, manpower, regulatory efforts and the service sector must be in place for Sri Lanka to go to its mark of signing off as a high end niche market.
“To be the most sought after destination in the world; we must concentrate on developing the service standards and quality of products we offer. In the natural element, Sri Lanka’s beauty is unmatched; however this alone is not enough to grab the attention as a high end destination,” he said. Even though the world did not demand for superior standards and quality for the past 30 years due to the much publicised war situation, tides are changing and moving forward this aspect must be built up soon. “We must improve ourselves in every way,” Godahewa said.
Furthermore he stated that the industry that was sustained by the private sector for 30 years should be given to the private sector to lead while the state should act as a facilitator. “Government should not attempt to run it. Leadership of the industry must be given to the private sector. If the private sector was able to run the industry during the most difficult period, they do not need special attention now.”
The state must as a facilitator provide a master plan for the country. The five year master plan set to be revealed this week contains the best marketing plans and practices the private sector has taken over the years as well, Godahewa added.
In 2010, Sri Lanka achieved its highest tourist arrival figure of 650,000, up by 46% over the previous year. In the first four months of 2011, arrivals growth was 41% to 278,959 whilst the industry is gearing to attract 2.5 million tourists by 2016.