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Tourism being restructured focusing on 10 key areas

2 years ago

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Work has commenced on restructuring the tourism sector, aligning with the National Policy Framework, focusing on 10 key areas of priority, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authoruty (SLTDA) announced last week at a major meeting with 49 tourism stakeholder associations at Cinnamon Grand Colombo. The 10 key areas of priority are national security; friendly, non-aligned foreign policy; administration free of corruption; a new constitution that fulfils the peoples’ wishes; productive citizenry and vibrant labour force; people-centric economic development; technology-based society; development of physical resources; sustainable environmental management; a disciplined, law-abiding, and value-based society. The meeting was conducted under the patronage of Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga and several distinguished guests including Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism S. Hettiarachchi, SLTDA Chairperson Kimarli Fernando, and SLTDA Director-General Dhammika Wijayasinghe. The meeting was moderated by Prof. Suranga de Silva of the Department of Tourism Economics Department at the University of Colombo. It was held to discuss the way forward for tourism, to give updates on the relief measures provided by Sri Lanka Tourism during the Covid-19 pandemic to all stakeholders, and to discuss the gaps they face when obtaining relief measures. “A comprehensive system change is essential to revamp post-Covid-19 tourism and I urge all the authorities to accelerate industry reform,” said SLTDA Chairperson Fernando. During her presentation, she mentioned that Sri Lanka Tourism is to propose to the Government to bring an Act to amalgamate three tourism organisations of the four that come under Sri Lanka Tourism to effectively manage the institutions and implement the short-term Tourism Strategic Plan (January 2020-2022). “Certain private sector stakeholders have been practising a system of their own for 30-40 years and they challenge the new system we try to bring in for everyone’s welfare. If these so-called systems worked properly, then how is it that we are unable to pay wages and tour guide fees in the face of a crisis? This is not what we expect from industry stakeholders and we request the support from all 49 associations in the industry to revive tourism. There are two million people who depend on tourism,”she further stated. It was also mentioned that the SLTDA has already implemented a National Policy Framework focusing on utilising technology as the registration process which operates now is 100% online. As part of the way forward for tourism in Sri Lanka, Fernando mentioned that SLTDA has focused on six transformational themes to increase institutional performance, governance and regulations, improving market understanding, countrywise marketing, improving communication across marketing channels, lifting industry standards at touchpoints: Infrastructure development and plan destinations to develop new areas, getting provincial officers to help with registrations, regional promotions, industry requirements, etc. Apart from that, 17 key tourism activities have also been identified as new attractions in the country for tourists. Work is currently underway for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) tourism, development of attractions, service centres, immigration and emigration facilities, streamlining processes, expanding training schools, community-based tourism, wellness tourism, high-quality service, and working with tourist police to minimise harassment of tourists. Furthermore, Fernando stated that they were looking for multidonors to fund these projects such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), World Bank, European Union for SMEs, and Asian Development Bank. The authority also currently works with the Australian Aid programme 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. Prof. de Silva of the University of Colombo said the gaps in the previous strategic plan such as co-ordination failures, market failures, institutional failures, resource failures (finance/human resources), and investment shortcomings have to be addressed for the effective implementation of the new strategic plan. In this regard, a special task force has been formed with Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Hettiarachchi, SLTDA Chairperson Fernando, SLTDA Director General Wijayasinghe, and Prof. de Silva to handle industry-related matters and come forward with effective policies to revive tourism aligning with the National Policy Framework.