Jan 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has advised the relevant officials to plan a targeted program to promote the tourism industry with the objective to generate US$ 10 billion revenues from tourism by 2025.
President Rajapaksa at a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation on Monday at the Presidential Secretariat said that tourism should be used as the main sector that can contribute to rapid economic growth.
President Rajapaksa, addressing the officials said a talented team with experience in the field and commitment is needed for the growth of the sector.
“Every step has to have immediate results. I am prepared to take the decisions that need to be taken for the country without fear. I expect the officials will be committed to distribute the outcome of the decisions to the country and the people. Any challenge can be overcome if there is a targeted program,” the President stated.
The issues identified in the tourism industry and the decisions to be taken to promote the growth in the sector were discussed at length.
The President stressed that the facilities provided to the tourists should be improved and regulated from the airport itself. The President also explained the need for a wider propaganda mechanism to improve tourist attractions and provide a better understanding of the sites.
He noted that the local Ayurvedic system is highly favored by tourists. The President pointed out to the officials that priority should be given to the development of sea sports, Sri Lankan tea and tourist attractions unique to Sri Lanka.
The President advised to maintain trade complexes identifying the needs of the tourists and explained the need for a proper mechanism to bring in tourists.
The President instructed the Tourist Board to implement programs through diplomats to enhance Sri Lanka's image and raise awareness in Sri Lanka as a tourist destination.
He emphasized that the airlines including SriLankan should be improved as quality services. The President explained the importance of coordination and team-work by bringing together the Tourism Board which functions as four institutions.
President Rajapaksa noted that establishing direct air links can bring more tourists and focused attention to launching direct flights targeting European countries.
They also discussed the possibility of producing hotel managers by providing training in hotel school for undergraduate students studying in the field of tourism and hospitality sector.
It was also decided to reactivate the tourism police and appoint a senior DIG relevant to the field.
The changes in the rules and regulations to promote the industry were discussed and the importance of removing unnecessary approvals was discussed.
Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Prasanna Ranatunga and State Minister Arundika Fernando, Secretary to the Ministry Mrs. SM Mohamed, Secretary to the State Ministry SSS Fernando and other senior officials of the Ministry were also present at the discussions.