Stakeholders identify 15 tourism priorities in Sri Lanka

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Mar 20, 2017 (LBO) – Key public and private sector tourism stakeholders in Sri Lanka have identified 15 priority projects to boost and sustain tourism growth over the next three years.

A full day workshop to identify these priorities was held at Temple Trees last week organised by the Ministry of Policy Development and Economic Affairs.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Tourism Development Minister, John Amaratunga, and Deputy Tourism Minister, Arundika Fernando participated in the workshop conducted under the Government’s Economic Delivery Programme.

The programme aims to accelerate key economic outcomes over the next 3 years including an increase in median income, private sector job creation, foreign and domestic investment, exports and government revenue.

Under this programme, tourism has been selected as one of six areas for acceleration. The other areas are: agriculture, manufacturing, investment acceleration, digital economy and government revenue.

The government has also set up a “Delivery Unit,” called the Central Programme Management Unit (CPMU), to support the implementation of the Economic Delivery Programme, a statement said.

More than 150 tourism industry representatives engaged in brain storming sessions to kick start implementation of the government’s Tourism Vision 2025 and Tourism Strategic Plan 2017-2020. The audience spanned a diverse group of sub-sectors within the travel and tourism industry, with both large and boutique, Sri Lankan and international players represented.

Similarly, the public sector was represented not only by the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies, but also other government agencies that have an impact on the sector such as the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, Ministry of Western Megapolis Development, Central Cultural Fund, Department of Wildlife Conservation, Police etc.

The participants worked through the day in joint public-private teams to identify potential solutions for addressing the main challenges faced by the industry and developed a preliminary list of 15 prioritised projects to implement within the next 1 to 3 years. The main goal is to ensure Sri Lanka doubles its tourism sector earnings from the present $3.5bn in 2016 to $7 bn by 2020.

At the conclusion of the workshop a selection of the most impactful projects were presented to the Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism who will regularly review progress to ensure rapid and effective implementation.

Some of the top projects were:

• Improve international air connectivity to priority markets (from 80 to 130 flights per day) through more direct flights, open skies policy, competitive landing and parking fees, incentivising low-cost airlines and smoother immigration and check-in procedures.
• Work with public and private stakeholders to create a “Colombo Calendar” of events which tourists can access across multiple channels (e.g., pick up from hotels or in the airports, access online, get notifications over social media).
• Fast-track tailored destination marketing campaigns in the key source markets; initiate a digital marketing campaign in next 1-2 months, as a precursor to the upcoming global campaign.

Meanwhile a Tourism “Delivery Lab” is to be set up as a follow up to the workshop. This lab will engage in short-burst, intensive implementation plan development sessions that aim to translate the identified project ideas into implementable plans.

Private and public sector leaders were asked to commit to the Tourism Delivery Lab, by sending representatives with specific expertise to support implementation planning and kick-off the projects.

More than 38 private sector companies and 48 public sector leaders committed their departments/agencies to support the Delivery Lab to ensure bottlenecks and barriers are removed.