ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has directed officials to accelerate efforts to attract five million tourists a year, calling for the establishment of an Investment Infrastructure Corporation, a decision-making council and regional committees under provincial tourism boards.
The president’s media division (PMD) said Wickremesinghe had issued this instruction to a committee of tourism officials at a meeting held on Wednesday August 16. The committee tasked assessing the progress of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry enhancement programme and proposing measures to establish the country as a prominent tourist destination.
Comprehensive plans spanning short, medium, and long terms to enhance Sri Lanka’s appeal and comfort for tourists had been discussed at the meeting. Ongoing plans and the role of the private sector in promoting the nation’s tourism industry had also come up and officials had briefed the president on current initiatives and emerging trends, according to the PMD.
According to the recommendations set forth by the committee tasked with establishing Sri Lanka as a leading tourist destination, the Ministry of Tourism and its affiliated bodies are formulating a strategic plan for up to 2025. The PMD said 95 percent of this plan has already been completed.
Wickremesinghe also directed officials to identify a suitable location, in collaboration with the private sector, for the establishment of a high-class hotel school in Sri Lanka.
The PMD said the president had issued additional directives to enhance lodging options for tourists visiting Sri Lanka. Officials have been tasked with investigating and compiling a report on currently unused buildings and historic bungalows. They are also expected to explore a programme to unearth unexplored destinations and conceive new projects in tourist-centric areas.
“With the aim of fostering a favourable investment climate, the president’s plan involves the establishment of an Investment Infrastructure Corporation, alongside the formation of a decision-making council. Emphasizing the significance of Provincial Tourism Boards across all 09 provinces, the President advocated for the creation of regional committees under each board,” the PMD statement said.
Tourism Minister Harin Fernando had said at the meeting that several tourism promotion initiatives have been devised in anticipation of the forthcoming Cricket Asia Cup. He had proposed developing the central province as a sustainable tourism hub, highlighting the “unexplored potential in Central and Uva provinces, particularly in the Central Province where air quality remains pristine”.
Addressing congestion issues at airports and parks, Minister Fernando underscored the focus on enhancing visitor amenities, the PMD said.
In a related development, Fernado told reporters on Monda August 14 that Sri Lanka has formulated a new permanent tourism policy that does not change with government or personnel, to be presented in two weeks.