Sri Lanka Tourism 3-year strategic plan and Task force

Sri Lanka Tourism 3-year strategic plan and Task force

 

Sri Lankan tourism industry has always been one of the many great attractions of the island nation. It was always preferred tourist destination among worldwide tourist’s due to its scenic and natural beauty, widespread beaches, ancient heritage and well-known hospitality. As the government has made tourism a cornerstone in the development of the economy of the country, there have been many plans made to achieve this end.

The ministry of Tourism Development has presented a long-term vision of the tourism industry as well as a 3-year strategic plan for 2017- 2020 to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management. This comes instead of an overall plan comprising of 2017 – 2025 as was initially hoped. Commenting to the media Ministry Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa outlined the key points. Chief among which is a 100-million-rupee Digital Marketing campaign targeting western European countries such as Germany, France and UK in the coming months. He underlined this was due to online marketing becoming increasingly popular as the mode to attract tourists in the current age. He further disclosed that traditional marketing tools have been made redundant with more web based tools for booking, tour planning and many others. The digital campaign is to be launched in July.

He commented also that the ministry is looking towards developing products in line with route-based tourism product development, which can be advantageous to underdeveloped regions who are yet to be known in the tourism industry. He also added that the aim of the plan will be to double the earning from the present 3.5 US$ billion in 2016 to 7 US$ billion in 2020. He further stated to the media that it is the aim of the ministry make tourism the number one foreign exchange earner for the country.

He added that once the terms of reference were agreed upon bids would be called from parties for the managing of the campaign. He also remarked that it was important to focus on groups such as millennials, knowledge workers and young professionals who may be very differing in how their visits are done yet remain an important segment.

Also, a tourism taskforce comprising of 13 members have been appointed in conjunction with the 2025 vision. The recommendations came from the Prime Minister and followed by the cabinet approval. The task force consists of Chairman Hari Selvanathan of Carson Cumberbatch PLC , Tourism Ministry Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa and Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Paddy Withana. The taskforce also includes renowned businessman and individuals such as Harry Jayawardena of Aitken Spence PLC and Stassen Exports among many others, Udaya Nanayakkara, Meril J Fernando of Dilmah , Dhammika Perera Of Vallibel One PLC among countless other interests, Abbas Esufally of Hemas Holdings PLC, Shiromal Cooray of Jetwing Travels, Geoffrey Dobbs, the Hotelier and founder of Galle Literary Festival, Dinesh Weerakkody of Ministry of National Policy and Economic Affairs and National Human Resource Development Council of Sri Lanka, Dileep Mudadeniya of John Keels Group and Thilak Weerasinghe of Lanka Sportreizen.
The taskforce will operate in providing recommendations with the Tourism Ministry in charge of monitoring the progress of the implementation of the task force recommendations. The task force will operate beside the advisory council which has been established by the Tourism Act and also it consists of some members from the task force as well. It can be expected that the council will act more of in an advisory capacity while the Taskforce will have more powers and active involvement with ongoing initiatives to promote tourism.

Sri Lanka has set a target of 4 Million tourists by 2020 and it is expected that this number will seem plausible. Sri Lanka had enjoyed a 93-month continuous streak of uninterrupted tourist visit growth from the post war era to until February this year when a closing of the Bandaranaike Airport disrupted tourist arrivals. According to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) it is expected Sri Lanka will reach 3.7 million tourist arrivals with an average growth rate of 10.4%. However, this is higher comparatively to Asia Pacific which is only expected to grow at 6% in 2017 and only grow at 5% until 2021. The rate at Sri Lanka is expected to grow is also higher than South Asia’s 7.5% per annum and Southeast Asia’s 6.6% which are among the fastest growing tourism industries in the world.

OSL TAKE

Sri Lankan government has committed significant resources towards uplifting tourism industry in Sri Lanka and has shown an increasing willingness to engage with the key stakeholders in the private sector in the tourism industry. At present tourism contributes around 5% to of Sri Lanka’s GDP of 81 $ Billion. There is seeming progress as Sri Lanka has passed the milestone of two million visits by tourists reaching 2,050,832. This is a growth rate of 14% in the year 2016. There is more high growth expected especially with the new task force in place with powers to affect the tourism industry in a positive manner. It can also be surmised the recently devised digital campaign will fuel recognition of the Sri Lankan tourism industry to newer markets as well as newer niches within the markets.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/03072017/Z_3

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