Tourism identified as thrust industry
The Government has identified tourism as a thrust industry and is
committed to achieving Sri Lanka’s continuing economic growth and
development through tourism.
It is important to fast track Sri Lanka’s further development process
without any impediments, Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka
President Anura Lokuhetty said.
Tourism is the key industry to be developed in Sri Lanka to enable a
rapid and sustainable economic development, he said.
The Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka held its Annual General
Meeting in Colombo last week.
Sri Lanka will need 40,000 rooms to achieve the set targets. With a
combined total of 22,000 rooms already across the formal and informal
sectors we will require an additional 18,000 rooms at an investment of
about US $ 1.5 billion, he said.
A variety of significant and genuine incentives must be offered to
all prospective investors by the Government to attract an investment of
this magnitude. Suggested incentives which will prove attractive to
these long- term investors include concessionary financing and tax for
lending institutions which provide debt financing for development on
A major challenge the country must overcome will be to find the most
strategic, appropriate and suitable locations for these new investments.
The Government must play a major role in this task assisting with
It is important to have a professionally efficient workforce to
provide the level of services expected by international tourists. The
focus should on the new trend in tourism such as health tourism,
boutique hotels and eco hotels to explore niche markets.
“Sri Lanka is an incredibly compact yet understated country. It has
an abundance of natural beauty unmatched by any other on this planet.
We should place priority on allowing aesthetic beauty blossom by
developing the upper echelon boutique hotel sector which will naturally
attract the high-end customers bringing more profitable income from a
lower number of tourists”, he said.
A comprehensive travel system should be in place with necessary
upgrading of infrastructure such as road, rail and domestic and
international air traffic. The industry needs to possess quality human
resources to cater to the needs.
The Ceylon Hotel School and other regional hotel schools must be
strengthened to match the upcoming human resource requirement.
Possibilities must be looked in to include tourism as a vocational
subject in school curriculum and upgrading the Sri Lanka Institute of
Hotel Management to the internationally recognized standards of a
national university, Lokuhetty said.
‘Nature Odyssey’ wins Presidential Award
John Keells Hotels, Marketing Development Manager Chitral
Jayatilake and Nature Odyssey, Manager, Suren Basnayake with the
Nature Odyssey the adventure and wildlife arm of John Keells Hotels
Group and Walkers Tours won the prestigious Presidential Awards for
Travel and Tourism for ‘Best Nature and Adventure Operator’ for the
second consecutive year.
The team, which specializes in catering to niche nature and adventure
seekers, are on a continuous pursuit of ‘new experiences’ that better
showcase the amazing natural heritage of Sri Lanka to its guests. Nature
Odyssey operates travel counters at most John Keells Hotels, offering
wildlife and nature based excursions ranging from village treks, bird
watching excursions and leopard and elephant safaris.
Currently the most popular activity is whale watching off the coast
of Mirissa. Nature Odyssey also initiated whale watching in the East
Coast with the launch of Chaaya Blu Trincomalee. The team continues to
understand the needs of its market consisting of adventure and wildlife
travellers and providing them with unforgettable, authentic wildlife or
Manager (Marketing Development) Chitral Jayatillake said, “The close
knit team was instrumental in winning this award with the outstanding
work that they have done with relation to wildlife and adventure based
tourism in Sri Lanka.”
Whittals Travel employees win awards
Keerthi Wijesinghe of Whittals Travel won the ‘Best Guide’ award at
the recently concluded Presidential Awards for Travel and Tourism.
Pramodh Welagedara of Walkers Tours receiving his award
“Travel guides are like journalists. We need to constantly update
ourselves and improve our knowledge on all areas relevant to both Sri
Lanka and the world,” said Wijesinghe.
“This is a profession full of challenges and it’s when things go
wrong that you are really tested. But life itself is a challenge and we
should be able to overcome any situation,” he said.
A veteran tourist guide lecturer and a Resort Representative for
Kuoni France, Wijesinghe has an impressive career of over 30 years in
the industry behind him. Having been interested in French and Russian
literature and history from a young age, he developed an interest in the
travel trade through his first job as an audio visual technical operator
at the French Embassy. Wijesinghe launched his career as a freelance
National Tourist Guide Lecturer in 1978, joining Baurs Travels - the
ground handling agent for Kuoni International at the time.
When Kuoni International’s ground handling agency transferred from
Baurs to Whittalls Boustead (Travel) Ltd in 1993, Wijesinghe started
working for John Keells Group.
Pramodh Welagedara of Walkers Tours was awarded the Best Chauffeur
Guide at the Presidential Awards for Travel and Tourism 2009. With an
impressive career spanning over 20 years, his interest in tourism and
driving led him into the travel trade. Beginning as a driver and
subsequently going onto qualify himself through the Chauffeur Guide
Lecturer Course conducted by the Tourist Board, Welagedara has been with
the company for 17 years.
“I believe that as children are the future generation of our land,
fostering responsible tourism and enabling them to appreciate, enjoy and
take forward the tourist industry in our beautiful island Sri Lanka,
whilst maintaining our values and culture is the duty of each and every
citizen of this country,” he said.
‘Sri Lanka Tourism well poised’
Sri Lanka Tourism is well poised to achieve its targets and tourist
arrivals have recorded continuous growth in the recent past.
This is a positive trend and Government should have in place
pragmatic regulations to facilitate and attract tourists to the country,
Economic Development Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said.
The tourism industry contributes immensely for the economic
development and it has added value to the related services such as
infrastructure, construction, agriculture and telecommunication, he
The Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators Association (SLAITO) held its
Annual General Meeting last week in Colombo. The Economic Development
Ministry promotes a one-stop-shop for tourist industry where it will be
convenient to obtain industry related facilities under one roof.
The hosting of IIFA has brought much benefits to the country and it
has created an ideal platform to build in attracting increased tourist
This mega event disseminated the message that Sri Lanka is safe,
stable and peaceful.
Not only tourism, but investment sector too would benefit in the long
run, Abeywardena said.
The tourism industry is a strong pillar in economic development and
would be aimed at making the sector second largest foreign exchange
generator in the country.
The legal framework which is an impediment to the industry will be
changed to enforce new laws shortly.
The industry will be given the Government support to become a driving
force in the economy, he said.
Tourism needs to move forward with all stakeholders shouldering the
The time is opportune to build the industry which suffered for the
last 30 years, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators President
Nilmin Nanayakkara said.