Good Life X (GLX) in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Sri Lanka - via ‘GLX Digital Evolver’ pursue the growth and evolution of Sri Lanka Tourism in partnership with leading industry experts. The recently launched programme which is aimed at empowering businesses in Sri Lanka’s Travel & Tourism Sector to evolve digitally, coincides with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority’s (SLTDA) announced plans to promote Sri Lanka as a market for sustainable tourism.
The three  month-long initiative, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), brought together ten  leading experts - representing GLX and GIZ, as well as Pascal Gavotto (CEO, Fatumaru Consulting), Niranka Perera (CEO, Antyra Solutions) and Naveen Marasinghe (COO, Antyra Solutions).
Speaking with Tourism Specialist, Fatumaru Consulting - Pascal Gavotto noted: “We are faced with a unique situation where much of Sri Lanka’s tourism is on the edge of collapsing, and investment is crucial to bridge the digital gap. This is a challenging position to continue encouraging Tourism SMEs to invest, work, and plan for the future whilst they struggle for business visibility and to continue with day-to-day operations. The GLX program brings a positive spirit to the Digital Evolvers, aiding them to prepare their business recovery better and be ready to compete in a post-covid, complex market.”
Pascal is the Lead Expert in charge of Tourism Strategy for the programme, and points out that whilst international tourist arrivals have dropped to 1% of what they were in 2018, that the 1.8 million Sri Lankans who were traveling overseas in 2018 are now traveling internally resulting in a boost to the domestic market. “I expect that the 10 Digital Evolvers we are coaching will be far better equipped digitally to reconquer and develop their market share, having developed new skills that will become a competitive advantage and more resilient.”
Speaking with Chief Operating Officer, Antyra Solutions - Naveen Marasinghe - the Lead Expert for Digital Strategy stated “The prevailing conditions have severely restricted revenue for the tourism sector. While this is a primary problem that the industry is struggling with, there are several other areas that can be improved upon from a digital point of view. SMEs show a keen interest to invest and understand digital marketing however they have a lack of practical experience or access to knowledge in order to do so. In terms of Digital - for the programme - as an area of expertise, we have looked at multiple topics such as digital marketing, digital distribution, and digital transformation as key areas to improve on.”
Experts such as Marasinghe and Perera, from Antyra Solutions - have tracked a new shift in the consumer mindset in selecting their next vacation or travel partner. According to a recent Google study (Future of travel) - one  out of three  consumers are open to booking with a travel company they have not booked through before. Marasinghe believes that Sri Lankan travel SMEs need to seize the opportunity to capitalise on their B2C strategy. “The ability for them to position themselves digitally as a brand/organization and be visible for more new audiences will supplement this new buyer behavior. So far I am extremely pleased with the progress made with each and every participant. We have worked with the Evolvers very closely and I feel at the end of the program we will be able to uplift the participants both in their knowledge and their capacity to operate better in digital,” concluded Marasinghe.
The GLX Digital Evolver program offers the ten  finalists an invaluable opportunity to develop in spite of the pandemic and adapt to the evolving nature of the international travel market by using digital spaces and contemporary tools to expand their businesses. The results of the ‘GLX Digital Evolver’ Programme is expected to provide participants with a visible edge, having equipped them for the changes expected in the industry.