Tourism industry performing well despite odds - Hotels Association President | Sunday Observer

Tourism industry performing well despite odds - Hotels Association President

The ‘Lonely Planet’ Guide Book has nominated Sri Lanka as the top destination for 2019 and a global marketing campaign is due to be launched soon by the Sri Lanka Tourism authorities. Here tourists admire Ravana Falls on the Ella-Wellawaya road. Pic: Thilak Perera
The ‘Lonely Planet’ Guide Book has nominated Sri Lanka as the top destination for 2019 and a global marketing campaign is due to be launched soon by the Sri Lanka Tourism authorities. Here tourists admire Ravana Falls on the Ella-Wellawaya road. Pic: Thilak Perera

The tourism industry is gaining strength from the steady performance in the first ten months of this year, Hotels Association President Sanath Ukwatte said.

“There was a setback in the arrival figures due to the turmoil in the past 50 days. However, this year could be the best year in terms of arrival numbers,” he said.

Sri Lanka had an opportunity to earn US $ 3.5 billion from tourism, and if not for the recent political turmoil, it would have performed better.

“There were some cancellations in the recent past, especially in the business segment where conferences and meetings were to take place,” he said.

Ukwatte said it is too early to quantify the loss the industry suffered, and added that the country should look forward to the year ahead and plan.

‘The Lonely Planet’ had nominated Sri Lanka as the top destination for 2019. We need to capitalise on this. Sri Lanka being ranked as the top country for travel for 2019 by Lonely Planet is a huge boost for our industry. We will launch a global marketing campaign in the coming year,” he said. “Money has been allocated for the global marketing campaign which is expected to provide a major impetus for the local tourism industry. The campaign has been given wide publicity. The rating by the Lonely Planet has contributed to the success of the campaign,” the Hotels Association President said.

“We expect a bumper year next year with political stability in the country. Over US $ 10-15 million has been collected through the tourism development levy and will be used for promotional activities. This is the first time that we will use such an amount of money for international promotions,” he said. He said the skills’ shortage is a major issue, among other bottlenecks, to be sorted out in the tourism industry.

“We are conducting a national program to attract more youth to the industry. Many international agencies have supported us. However, the industry needs to address other issues such as streamlining work at the Immigration and Emigration Department where long queues are seen. This is the first entry point for foreigners. A good first impression is essential to have fond memories of the country,” Ukwatte said.

“We need to provide better infrastructure at the airport. It is a good sign that the government is allowing private airlines to operate in the country, especially in the East coast. We could manage the sector more efficiently with more people joining the industry and providing quality service delivery,” the Hotels Association President said. 

Comments