Mapping the future of the tourism sector in Sri Lanka is vital for the country’s economic recovery post COVID-19. In line with this, the Ministry of Tourism initiated a process to develop a National Tourism Policy for Sri Lanka early this year. The outlines of the policy have been discussed with the Ministry of Tourism, the Inter-Ministerial committee, Advisory council, Tourism Ministry Working Group, Ministry of Finance, Private Sector stakeholders and Provincial Level representatives with technical assistance provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka.
Prior to the drafting of the National Tourism Policy, two questionnaires were designed, to make the policy drafting process inclusive and ensure wide stakeholder participation despite COVID-19 restrictions on meetings and workshops. The first questionnaire focused on the current state of tourism in Sri Lanka, and had an overwhelming response, allowing for representative views from all public and private stakeholders invested in the tourism sector to be captured. An issues paper was then developed with input received from the questionnaire meetings held with public sector representatives, provincial council members and private sector associations.
The second questionnaire has been compiled to elicit responses to the proposed policy interventions and reforms, and address issues raised during consultations. This questionnaire, known as the Policy Reforms Questionnaire, is open to all public sector (government and deconcentrated), private sector and NGOs, civil society, international institutions and other relevant organizations in the tourism sector.
Speaking on the importance of this second follow-up questionnaire, Mr. Siri Hettiarchchi, Secretary – Ministry of Tourism, said that the intention of the Ministry is to get as many stakeholder responses as possible, despite the ongoing travel restrictions. “We want the policy to reflect the aspirations of the industry and its future vision, which should uphold sustainability – social and environmental – and build the ability to withstand shocks and setbacks”.
This questionnaire will provide all interested parties with the opportunity to express their debates, propose solutions, and reach a consensus. The responses will then be compiled together to form policy proposals and policy actions that will suggest institutional, legal, regulatory, and fiscal reforms as well as identifying key priorities in shaping the final National Tourism Policy. The National Tourism Policy will be an essential component in transforming Sri Lanka’s tourism sector to a more sustainable one in the coming decade. A final validation national workshop will take place at the end of July to ensure that the selected reforms are supported by the tourism sector, so as to work towards a cohesive revival of tourism in Sri Lanka.