Mar 17, Colombo: The Private and Public sectors of Sri Lanka must work together in order to develop the tourism sector, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says.
The Prime Minister speaking of the targets to achieve in tourism said the government must increase the income from tourism from current $3.5 billion to $7.5 billion and the employment from 317,000 to 600,000.
In order to achieve those targets, first and foremost the state must define its role in the overall framework and agree on a joint direction with the private sector to design a common plan, the Premier said.
He said a plan should focus on getting the tourists not only to major areas but also to visit other parts of the country, especially Eastern Province and area from Anuradhapura to Jaffna.
The Premier said the government is allowing the private sector to operate domestic flights and the Sri Lanka Air Force will also make a joint contribution to encourage the tourists to visit the North and East and other less visited areas.
He said the government is looking to set up a joint company between the private sector and the state on domestic air travel.
The Premier pointed out that the private sector and the public sector must work in cooperation during Sri Lanka's tourism core programs and the private sector must take the lead to develop the industry.
"We have to reach down to the village," to develop the industry, the Premier said adding that everyone in village will benefit from the initiative and the village will develop with the income.
Emphasizing that small and medium enterprises and others involved in the tourism industry need to be retrained, the Premier said the government will provide the maximum support to boost the tourism but the private sector must take a lead.