Reviving tourism - Can and Must Be Done - Dr. Kohona | Daily News


Reviving tourism - Can and Must Be Done - Dr. Kohona

Despite the COVID pandemic, tourism will become one of Sri Lanka’s key sources of income, and employment in the future as well, former Sri Lankan Diplomat and former Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Dr Palitha Kohona said.

He was addressing the SAITO inaugural youth meeting in Ramada Colombo last week.

“The government had planned to boost tourism to be a five billion dollar industry. Unfortunately COVID19 intervened. Now we need to rethink our goals and strategies.”

He said that around 300,000 were directly employed in the industry before COVID19. Many more were indirectly employed and COVID19 dealt a bloody blow to the industry globally and locally.”

He said that though he is not an expert on tourism he is a big time consumer, a client of the industry since he has been to over 100 countries, both officially and privately. “I am very familiar with the way the industry operates in many countries and most importantly on the shortcomings and the strengths.

“I have been to well over half the places listed in the book “100 Places to See Before You Die and hence there is an encyclopedia of knowledge and experience that I can share.”

He also recalled that he created a travel agency Jonathan Swift Travels, (as Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels) for young people, when he was at University in Australia. “It was taken over by a bigger company later.”

He said that tourism administrators must look at ‘why should tourists come to Sri Lanka’ and create memories that will stay with visitors for a long time as tourists have many choices to select. “Travelers have the options in India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Vietnam, Japan, China, all not too far from Sri Lanka.”

“Sri Lanka should become known for super service, Not Servile service. Our generosity, kindness, and service beyond the call of duty need to be emphasized. Let the world know about our service.”

Commenting on the HR aspect he said that ‘Training’ is key while language skills too are critical. “Knowledge of the country among most of our guides is inadequate. We need to make them very professional through training.”

“Since there are countries with stunning hotels even in our own neighborhood like Thailand, India, China and Japan, Sri Lanka should advertise our world class cuisine which even the BBC identified.

“We have a lot of great attractions, natural beauty, beaches, historical sites, wildlife and hospitable people and these too should be marketed.”

“Sri Lanka needs to promote its attractions to the young who today’s is unkempt ‘hippie’ but tomorrow’s smart executives. Once hooked, they will come again, their friends will come too.”

Other attractions that tempt the young and the restless are surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, kayaking, trekking, rock climbing, ballooning, (we have over 200 sunken vessels off our coast) diving, whales and elephants within two hours of each other and these must be vigorously promoted.” “Sri Lanka’s tremendous success with COVID 19 needs to be trumpeted to the world.”


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