Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lanka gears for tourism boom - Sri Lanka Tourism to fast track projects

Indunil Hewage

The public sector needs to play a major role in facilitating private sector investments in the tourism industry owing to their tremendous participation in the sector in the country, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Director General S Kalaiselvam said. “The tourism sector is driven by the private sector and facilitating private sector in the country will generate more revenue for the Government in terms of tax and employment opportunities for the locals,” he said.

The country needs to facilitate the private sector to attract more visitors to the country next year. New segments and areas of interest need to be explored in this regard. Tourists at the Baker’s Fall in Horton Plains. Picture by Saliya Rupasinghe

Proposals have been made to establish a one-stop-shop at the Sri Lanka Tourism Head Office to process all tourism related projects. The unit will consist senior Government officials representing various Government agencies to assist investors with the approval process.

In addition to that, Sri Lanka Tourism have stabilized comfort centres to facilitate domestic travel and these comfort centres are located at Bentota, Pasikudah, Buduruwagala, Avukana and Hasthikuchiya. The Narabamu Sri Lanka program was also initiated to encourage domestic tourists to travel more regularly within the country and discover numerous places in the country.

The Government also entered into bi-lateral agreements for air services with the relevant countries to increase the availability of air seat capacity and country has full potential and facilities to promote MICE tourism in the country.

The BMICH is being renovated to have modern facilities and it is also proposed to build convention centres in Hambantota and Jaffna. Sri Lanka Tourism operates its own office in United Kingdom and marketing representatives in the main tourist generating countries to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination. It is also engaged in providing opportunities for the private sector to participate in tourism fairs at discounted rates.

“The Government policy is to subsidize the cost by fifty percent. A further reduction of fifty percent is given for SME sector of tourism,” Kalaiselvam said.

“The Government and Sri Lanka Tourism have also taken measures to attract local and foreign tourists. It is planned to formulate the Third Tourism Master Plan from 2012 to 2020 in addition to first and second tourism master plans in the country. The project formulation study on the plan has been completed.

“Regional tourism plans have also been prepared. A three year action plan from 2010 to 2012, for the development of Eastern province was prepared in 2009 and it is proposed to formulate a similar plan for the Northern province before the end of 2010,” he said. The objective of formulating these plans is to enhance the benefits to the Sri Lankan economy and to guide private sector investors in widening tourist resorts.

Airport surveys are conducted on a regular basis to find out tourist products areas that can be expanded to enhance yield while recognizing the requirements of potential visitor segments and identify which segments would be most approachable to Sri Lanka’s products and yields.

source - www.dailynews.lk

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