Turbo boost for ailing tourism industry | Sunday Observer

Turbo boost for ailing tourism industry

Kirmali Fernando
Kirmali Fernando

An early and a fresh turbo boost will be given to the ailing tourism industry with a renewed commitment to accelerate the tourism promotion action plan process, a top official of Sri Lanka Tourism said recently.

Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kirmali Fernando said it is too early to elaborate on the tourism promotion plan at this time when other priorities have taken precedence. 

“We first need to take into account the financial needs of hotels, especially the SMEs in the leisure industry which have been severely hit by the crisis. We are already in discussion with certain parties to support us,” Fernando said, adding that Sri Lanka Tourism is working on protocols on Covid-19, visas, airport operations and transportation.The  tourism promotion process will continue according to the SLTDA (Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority) chief with the support of all stakeholders.

However, she noted that everything would depend on how the world handles the pandemic and how soon it will be eliminated.

The SLTDA plans to launch the post Covid-19 tourism revival strategy in two stages focusing first on the December season and then the post December season.

“We will first look at December and then review it with the situation in global markets,” Fernando said. 

The global campaign to promote the destination has been on the backburner for several years due to dilly-dallying by Sri Lanka Tourism and Tourism Ministry officials.

The tourism industry is one of the worst affected sectors in the country facing its second blow within a year since the Easter Sunday attacks last year resulting in arrivals and income sliding sharply for nearly a year.The number of arrivals plummeted to 71, 370 in March this year, a 70.8 percent decline from a year earlier.  The industry recorded 252,033 visitors to the country in February while the number of arrivals slid 31.5 to percent to 507, 311 during the first three months this year from 740, 600 in the corresponding period last year.

According to statistics, the number of visitors from all regions had declined so far this year decline with China topping the list at 92.9 percent to 1,688 from 23,759 visitors a year ago.

The tourism industry accounts for around 12.5 percent of the country’s GDP.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association has cautioned that Sri Lanka’s aviation sector is likely to lose Rs. 715 million in earnings and over 400,000 jobs this year due to the current global crisis. 

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