Monday, January 18, 2010
SRI LANKA TOURISM MUST DRIVE IMAGE BUILDING FOR THE COUNTRY
Sri Lanka’s tourism which nose-dived to a minus growth of 20 percent in June last year ended the year at a two percent plus at 447,890 tourists and to cater to this demand with the hotel rooms and the need for trained staff was highlighted by Tourism Minister Jagoda at the launch of the 3,000 training scholarships offered by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry International Qualifications (LCCIIQ) to the Government of Sri Lanka.
The guest speaker at the event the National Portfolio Development Manger for UN Opertaions(UNOPS) in Sri Lanka, Rohantha Athukorala, said that UNOPS is partnering Sri Lanka Tourism Ministry on many infrastructural development projects in the country just like what is been done in the Maldives and this initiative will ideally serve the soft skill enhancement required. He went on to point out that if one analyzes the situation on a net foreign exchange earning of Rs. 43.6 billion, Sri Lanka’s market share would stand at a mere 0.07 percent which means that a meager 0.01 percent share increase can result in an additional foreign exchange earning of Rs.six billion to the country. Aparently a latest study done has revealed that the war in the last twenty years has robbed the country over a rupess 6300 billion. (In the US, $ 6.3 billion) and if not for the war, Sri Lanka would have been attracting around 1.5 million tourists which explains the capacity development that would have happened in Sri Lanka if not for the war in terms of new hotels, new cab services, developments in traditional industries like handicrafts and its benefit to the livelihood development.
The 447,000 barrier that was crossed in 2009 is a great start he said and the challenge is that Sri Lanka target a 600,000 plus this year.
Athukorala went on to say that a country like Cambodia, the country registered a two hundred thousand tourist arrivals ten years back and today it attracts over a two million travellers in to the country. This has been the opportunity cost for Sri Lanka. The good news was that research revels that almost 83 % of those visiting Sri Lanka say that they will come back to the country means that if we can develop a DIRECT communication strategy with a promotions such as bring a friend along at 50 percent of the cost etc we can propel this industry at the minimum investment. However the speaker said industry to strategically develop a Key selling proposition that we want to associate Sri Lanka with in the years to come. The logic being that since Sri Lanka is in an upward movement this is the best time ride the wave by building a new image for the country
The unique programme by LCCIIQ and the Government of Sri Lanka is branded as "Service Excellence through Quality Training" targeting Sri Lankan youth, with the objective of giving them a foundation in the basic structure and components of the travel and tourism industry, travel and tourism products, different types of tourism and working roles in Travel and Tourism which ideally fits the template for the future guest numbers that are been target by the Tourism Ministry, said B MU Basnayake, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism
The Regional Director for LCCIQ said that each person will be trained on three key areas such as travel and tourism, English for business and marketing, where certification will be offered too so that it gives a good base for the industry to do specific training before allowing them to interact with the guest of a hotel.