World Bank webinar on tourism sustainability and resilience features Sri Lanka Tourism

The World Bank Group, in collaboration with WebEx Events, has designed a series of webinars where World Bank researchers and external panellists discuss tourism resilience and sustainability. The World Bank works with clients, in both the public and private sectors, by providing the latest data, knowledge, and evidence needed to design the most effective guidance and strategies.

Under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s manifesto “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”, one of the key policies put forward is the priority on sustainable environmental management. It was recognised that promoting sustainable tourism is a crucial initiative to make Sri Lanka’s tourism business more competitive, both locally as well as internationally, and to positively build brand Sri Lanka. Championing this mandate, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has launched many tactical strategies and long-term initiatives to ensure that Sri Lanka Tourism develops in a sustainable manner. The World Bank Group, New York, recognising the strategic commitment made by Sri Lanka Tourism, invited SLTDA Chairperson Kimarli Fernando to share her learnings and plans.

Fernando, sharing her thoughts during the webinar, said: “The webinar series has provided an excellent platform for sharing the many ambitious plans and numerous changes we’ve made during the last few years. This is especially vital as borders begin to open and the industry braces itself to welcome visitors who will want more than ever to give back to the communities they visit while minimising their travel footprint. Showcasing the island as a unique, experiential destination as opposed to a mass-market destination is essential for attracting visitors from around the world. Representing Sri Lanka authentically and educating a global audience on the country’s many diverse facets is an essential part of our strategy for growth. This corresponds to our policy efforts in terms of new product development and promotions, while also helping us forge new partnerships in important source markets while liaising with existing affiliates.”

The SLTDA Chair further said that Sri Lanka Tourism has taken tactical initiatives such as championing of the green building concept for all new tourism developments, which will be made mandatory from next year, introducing GSTC accreditation – the Global standard for sustainable travel and tourism, a ban on single-use plastics, and the initiation of the National Sustainable Tourism Certification.

“On a strategic level, we have plans to develop a sustainability roadmap and appoint a special think tank unit to drive this initiative. We invite the World Bank Group and the international community to assist us in our vision to further develop Sri Lanka as a sustainable destination,” Fernando added.

This, the third edition from the series, had a roundtable comprising several illustrious speakers. In addition to Fernando, Linnaeus University Professor of Tourism Research and Lund University Professor of Human Ecology Stefan Gössling and Iberostar Group Global Director of Sustainability Office Megan Morikawa also took part in the webinar discussion.