Sri Lanka urgently needs modern technology and superior intelligence : Ensuring safety of citizens and tourists, a top priority – Dr. Suranga Silva | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka urgently needs modern technology and superior intelligence : Ensuring safety of citizens and tourists, a top priority – Dr. Suranga Silva

Dr. Suranga Silva Pic: Courtesy
Dr. Suranga Silva Pic: Courtesy

The tourism industry, a key driver of the economy, cannot be revived by offering packages to lure local and international visitors. There has to be a sound strategy backed by the use of advanced technology and superior intelligence as in developed nations to convince travellers that Sri Lanka is a safe place to visit, a senior lecturer in tourism of the University of Colombo said.

Founder and Coordinator of the Masters degree in Tourism Economics and Hotel Management, University of Colombo, Dr. Suranga Silva said, no amount of promotional activities at this point of time could help attract visitors to Sri Lanka which is currently listed as unsafe for travelling by the international community. “Tourists will not want to risk their lives for a holiday in a beautiful country. They will give priority to safety before leisure and entertainment.”

Sri Lanka must take a cue from Singapore and other developed East Asian nations which deploy modern technology and superior intelligence to crack down on terrorist activities and ensure the safety of its citizens and those who enter the country, he said.

“We don’t find the Security Forces on the roads in Singapore, but the highest security is guaranteed in the city State. The government should immediately adopt reliable methods to strengthen security, a key element to drive economic growth in any country,” Dr. Silva said.

He said use of state-of-the-art technology and developing superior intelligence must be considered as an investment and not a cost. We must realise that the country cannot get back to where it was before the terror attacks, without enhancing security. People have the right to information. They must be informed of what is happening in the country and help them to be vigilant. Having the proper awareness is vital to improve civil security. If civil society is not vigilant, whatever strategies the Government implements to boost security will not help ensure the safety of its people.

“The economy was gaining momentum after the end of the war against the LTTE although we had more to achieve. Except for certain sectors such as foreign direct investments, balance of payments, depreciation of the currency, global competitiveness, poor transportation and high cost of utilities such as electricity, the other sectors, were performing at a satisfactory level,” Dr. Silva said.

However, there is a great opportunity to be seized by the country, given that the entire world is ready to support Sri Lanka and that all races and communities are united to restore the lost glory of the country. It is not the time to pass the buck and keep on asking how this happened. To put the economy back on track, the government must assure the people and the world that there will not be a recurrence of such a situation.

The country must think of how fast it could recover as it did after the tsunami. Sri Lanka was the fastest to recover from that catastrophe. We can make a similar recovery from the current setback if we manage it well. The well trained Security Forces that crushed one of the world’s worst terrorist groups, the unity in the country and the support of the international community are plus points for Sri Lanka to rise again. We have all the resources to reach the summit of economic growth. Therefore, we must grab the situation as a blessing to revive falling spirits and put the house back in order.

“Sri Lanka has received the sympathy of the international community. The US and Europe have pledged their support which will help regain business and investment opportunities. However, this is not an easy task. We must ensure macroeconomic stability by enhancing investment through incentives such as peace, security, law and order to encourage investors to look at major sectors such as tourism which was shattered by the recent attacks. Investors must be offered incentives which are more attractive than competitive countries. Sri Lanka was on the path to record over 2.5 million visitors this year with a revenue surpassing US$ 4 billion,” Dr. Silva said.

Echoing similar sentiments, tourism industry experts said special security measures should be deployed at all hotels to ensure the safety of guests from arrival to departure.

“Similar to other countries, we too must have screening machines at the entrance to hotels to detect items. Guests must be provided up to-date information about the situation in the country when they arrive. We have lost an S which stands for security among the others that denote Sun, Sea, Sand and Safety. But we still have the others which we must make good use of to promote the destination. We must also go beyond the traditional attractions to market the destination for nature, culture, rural tourism to diversify tourism products to many areas rather than focusing on a few areas,” they said.

“The tourism industry must also provide subsistence packages to hotels and other key stakeholders of the industry until it revives. These incentives must focus on the specific needs of the industry, if not, it will be a waste of public funds. Sri Lanka must also look at promoting agro, home stay and wellness tourism,” the experts said.