Jan 14, Colombo: Steps will be taken to revive the collapsed tourism industry in Sri Lanka in a systematic manner, Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism S. Hettiarachchi said.
Mr. Hettiarachchi expressed these views while speaking at the media briefing ‘Tourism Resumes’ held at the Presidential Media Centre this morning (13). President’s Media Spokesman Kingsly Rathnayake moderated the news briefing.
The global Covid-19 pandemic was a major cause for the collapsing of the tourism industry. It was powerful enough to make more than one million employees lose direct and indirect job opportunities in the industry. Tourism Ministry Secretary Hettiarachchi said a large amount of revenue was lost as a result of these consequences.
The tourism industry was the third largest source of foreign remittances received to the country. Sri Lanka received a net income from tourism in comparison to other revenue generating sectors. The officials pointed out that the need has been identified to overcome the current situation and work towards a common goal with a positive approach, by getting government and non-governmental institutions and foreign missions involved for the development of the tourism sector.
The Secretary said that as per the new plans and strategies, the objective of his ministry is to earn US$ 10 billion in revenue by attracting 7 million tourists by 2030.
Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando said that Sri Lanka must also adhere to global standards and criteria to achieve these objectives and that all citizens must also have a positive attitude.
Under the new programme of the government, the Ministry of Tourism has been affiliated to a number of new institutions which contribute directly to the development of the tourism industry.
Compared to other Asian countries, an increase in tourist arrivals can be witnessed in Sri Lanka since the country has been able to manage the Covid-19 pandemic scientifically. The Chairperson said that the Tourism Development Authority is in possession of a comprehensive programme to achieve the desired goals.
The main objective is to take steps to swiftly attract more tourists to Sri Lanka by scientifically promoting Sri Lanka’s unparalleled natural resources and the cultural potential embedded within the people of Sri Lanka.
There is a need for training for all domestic and medium-scale tourism enterprises. Director General of the Tourism Development Authority, Ms. Dhammika Wijesinghe, said that it is expected to bring the service up to standardized standards in order to provide quality service through infrastructure development.
Steps will be taken to introduce a latest Mobile Application required to maintain the convenience of tourists visiting the country and the management at an optimum level.
Plans are afoot to develop the Tourist Police Service managed by the Sri Lanka Police to ensure the safety of tourists.
The authorities also point out that the aim is to maintain other affiliated institutions to the Ministry in a manner that these institutions do not become a financial burden on the government and to take measures to earn the required funds independently.
Local and foreign investors have expressed interest in developing the tourism industry and preliminary work is underway to approve it.
A number of programmes were launched to improve the livelihoods of many persons who were engaged in the hotel industry as Covid-19 had affected their livelihoods and some previously engaged in the tourism industry have left the industry which is a challenge.
It was also emphasized that before overcoming that challenge and attracting new professionals to the field, it is planned to provide specialized training to all those engaged in the field of tourism with the aim of developing skills to ensure recognition.
Taking steps to transform the traditional practices of the Sri Lankan tourism industry, which has been in place for over twenty years until the COVID-19 pandemic, into the new global conditions, will also help the tourism industry achieve its desired goals.
It is time to apply the international praise for the Sri Lankan vaccination drive to the development of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. The Chairperson added that the support of all is needed in this regard.