ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has formulated a new permanent tourism policy that does not change with government or personnel, to be presented in two weeks, Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said.
Speaking to reporters on Monday August 14, Fernando said the policy will be presented urgently.
A statement from the President’s Media Division (PMD) said the policy was prepared after extensive study by experts in the field and has been forwarded to the cabinet.
Tourism in Sri Lanka has seen marked improvement since the 2022 financial crisis and the political unrest it triggered. The country earned 219 million US dollars from 143,039 tourists who visited in July 2023, up from 85 million US dollars in 2022, official data showed.
Fernando has attributed the recovery in tourism to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s economic recovery programme, which Fernando said is an awakening for the industry.
“Development of the tourism sector can be pointed out as a major approach to solve the dollar crisis in the country. There is a humble happiness about the progress made today compared to the state of the tourism sector a year ago. President Wickramasinghe is making a great contribution to uplifting the country’s tourism industry. We should promote it more,” Fernando was quoted as saying.
“Sri Lanka is a very beautiful country. But no one has yet understood the value of its beauty. This country is a treasure. We have not yet thought about how to use it. The president’s plan is to bring about the necessary change in attitude,” he said.
Fernando said the authorities have already put in place a programme to make Sri Lanka a more attractive destination for tourists but added that “many practical problems” remain to be addressed.
An initiative is also on the cards to reduce the existing traffic in places that have gained tourist attraction in the country, he said, adding that another programme has been planned to ensure the safety of tourists together with the Ministry of Public Security.
A mobile application for the convenience of tourists and a formal programme to prevent various irregularities faced by foreign tourists are also going to be implemented, the PMD quoted Fernando as saying.
Explaining the new tourism policy, he said: “The tourism industry needs a national policy that does not change when governments and politicians change. The country’s tourism policy cannot change when the minister changes. After a thorough analysis, we have forwarded a new policy for tourism that was prepared by experts in the field to the cabinet. We will present to the country how it will work, within the next two weeks.”
“The challenge we had so far was to bring tourists to Sri Lanka. A challenge in the future is going to be how to maintain the quality of the tourism industry. Employees in the hotel industry in Sri Lanka leave for foreign jobs as soon as they get their first service certificate. Then another person is hired for it. I observe this situation as a big problem in the hotel industry in this country. We are taking immediate steps to solve that and other problems in the field as well,” said Fernando.
Sri Lanka also plans to hold an annual short film festival on attractive locations of Sri Lanka targeting tourists, the minister said. The best 10 short films selected by a jury comprising industry experts will be rewarded financially along with formal training, he said.
Meanwhile, a luxury hotel in the Hilton Hotel chain is scheduled to be opened by the president on August 19 in the Yala national park area, after which a series of tourism promotion programmes are to be launched, said Fernando. (Colombo/Aug15/2023)