Managing risks, critical for tourism revival – Former SLTDA chief | Sunday Observer

Managing risks, critical for tourism revival – Former SLTDA chief

24 October, 2021

Presenting strategies to revive tourism,   former Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman and currently Group Managing Director, Dreamron Group of Companies, Kishu Gomes said managing risks and not shying away is crucial to get on to a revival mode and harness the potential of tourism for the  economy. He said creating a tourist-friendly policy environment for vaccinated and non-vaccinated with fast and cost effective health protocols on arrival and thereafter, is essential to woo visitors.

He said all stakeholders must be convinced of the value of tourism and the need to balance the economy and related risks of tourism in the present environment if the country is to tap the highly lucrative industry for the much needed foreign exchange.

It is essential that we learn to manage rather than averting risks to get the better of the industry, Gomes said.

There has to be one voice among all stakeholders with consensus to avoid negative publicity that discourages potential tourists and travel agents, Gomes said, adding that there has to be clarity about welcoming visitors.

He said steps should be taken to carry out an internal communication campaign to educate people on the importance of tourism. An integrated PR campaign covering all potential markets re-positioning Sri Lanka’s readiness to welcome tourists back with a ‘warm heart’ is vital to boost the momentum of the industry. He said it is vital to bring all tourism related public and private organisations under one umbrella for synergy at this critical juncture. i.e. Tea Board, EDB and SriLankan Airlines. Meet up with all airline operators and garner their fullest support for right flight connections, frequency and competitive pricing for our destination which  should be done at the highest level but not before we have a proper plan covering all aspects in place. 

All hoteliers associations at national and provincial level and tour operators need to be educated on the ‘way forward’ so that they could talk to the value chain with conviction- and with one voice - one consistent message for credibility.  Tourist board officials (SLTDA, SLTB) at all levels covering all entities should work as one team to support the execution of ‘One plan’. Currently there are conflicting internal views that impede progress.  Regular involvement  of all stakeholders in decision-making by the tourist board and have an open door culture for mind management too, other than technical solutions, Gomes said. Vaccinating all employees of the tourism industry and providing the booster dose if necessary and ensuring all investors and employees receive the concessions offered by the Government. Employees of the industry across all  services need to take all precautions to mitigate health risk and offer the same to tourists too so the word of mouth could help revive  and boost growth in the industry faster. Cultivating an attitude that loves the country and the industry is paramount to develop a vibrant tourism industry, Gomes said.