COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka will adopt an ‘open skies’ policy that will benefit the tourism industry, an approach the Maldives took that greatly helped its own hotels sector, a hospitality forum was told.
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said the government’s new tourism master plan aims to attract three billion US dollars in foreign direct investment in the tourism industry in the next five years.
”We’re going to have an open skies policy that will help tourism and also help grow the business to other countries,” he told an Indian Ocean hospitality forum that began in Colombo Monday.
The support the government has given for the development of the hospitality industry is an indication of its importance, Karunanayake told the forum that has drawn investment professionals from nine countries.
Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor, Minister of Tourism of the Maldives said an open skies policy was one of the key reasons for the success of the tourism industry in the archipelago.
“We had a bad experience,” he told the two-day Hospitality Investment Conference Indian Ocean 2015 organised by Sphere Conferences, the conference arm of Singapore Press Holdings Limited, covering the Maldives, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
“Our own airline went bankrupt. That’s why we opened up our skies – all the airlines are our national airlines.”
SriLankan Airlines is one of the key airlines that bring lots of tourists to the Maldives, along with airlines from the Middle East and Singapore.
“Being open is a key advantage,” Gafoor said. “We would like to keep the country’s pen sky policy.”