Sri Lanka should focus on Eco-tourism - Netherlands Envoy | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka should focus on Eco-tourism - Netherlands Envoy

The resource persons at the Summit (Pic: Sarath Pieris)
The resource persons at the Summit (Pic: Sarath Pieris)

Sri Lanka’s capital assets as far as the tourism industry is concerned, are its location and weather.

The island’s hospitality, food, and friendly people are what the tourists like the most about Sri Lanka. Those were views expressed at the Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Tourism Research Conference held in Colombo last week.

What the world expects from Sri Lanka for its development in tourism and achieving the arrival target for 2020 were mainly focused in this summit.

“Eco-tourism is something that this country could use,” said Netherlands Ambassador Joanne Doornewaard. “Development in heritage tourism and the quality of service provided should be looked into. The transport sector needs to be developed to avoid inconveniences faced by tourists,” she added.

A lot of tourists come from the UK, Germany and France. Therefore Sri Lanka should focus on promoting itself in European countries, Ambassador and Head of Delegation, European Union to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Tung-Lai Marugue, said. “ Sri Lanka should also focus on sustainable tourism. People connected to this industry should be trained to use the English Language properly,” he said.

“There should be an expansion in sea plane transportation. We have a very good road network for instance the expressways,” Director General - Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saroja Sirisena, said.

According to Vice President/General Manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, Thimothy Wright, the sustainability practices at Shangri-La focuses on both people and nature. Through its projects ‘Embrace’ and ‘Sanctuary’ it makes sure that outcomes are favourable to its employees.

“Reduction of waste in the city and food safety become our top priorities and hopefully there will be an increase in marketing for visitors in the future,” he said.

“We don’t have the product intact to be marketed professionally. We don’t know how to put the things right,” said Managing Director, Triad, Dilith Jayaweera, . “Every small point to large point has to be presented creatively,” he said General Manager, Colombo Hilton, Manesh Fernando, drew focus to the contributions made by female employees. “Female participation in the tourism industry is important. Social and cultural situations, family responsibility and the reproductive role, discrimination in the work environment with no flexible hours allocated to the female has resulted in less female participation in tourism.

Improving work conditions and creating an environment to encourage more women to enter the industry is vital,” he said.

“Development of airports is a crucial factor. Lack of infrastructure to handle large planes is a big disadvantage. We are intending to open up all domestic airports so that domestic flights could be used,” said Vice Chairman, Airport and Aviation Services, Milinda Rathnayake.

The Ratmalana Airport is under construction to accommodate business jets, he said.