- Asserts entire system isn’t geared to act in crisis situation
- Says industry nowhere close to recovery
- Stresses need for a single coherent policy in place
- Calls for a more focused strategy
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
Sri Lanka’s tourism sector is acknowledged as one of the highest revenue earners for the economy but poor planning and slow execution by the relevant authorities are observed to be pulling the sector down, implied a senior industry representative. Deliberating on the ‘key’ to unleashing Sri Lanka’s next growth drivers at Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2019, Jetwing Hotels Chairperson Shiromal Cooray shared that a number of unaddressed factors are barriers for the industry to move forward at a faster pace. With the 21/4 Easter Sunday attacks completely changing the manner in which Sri Lanka should approach its tourism marketing efforts, Cooray pointed out that it is unlikely a shift in marketing would take place in the near future.
“The general policy document talks of changes in processes but this bureaucracy, unfortunately isn’t moving fast enough,”said Cooray.
She asserted that the procurement processes and the entire system itself aren’t geared to act in a crisis situation.
“We had a situation we needed to react fast and we didn’t even have a PR company in place to get some strategy. That is how bad the current scenario is and how
we are operating.”
“Right now, there are multiple ministries and agencies to go through to get a single project approved and implemented. If we are to leapfrog, I think it is imperative for all of these line ministries and institutions to have a single coherent policy in place,” said Cooray.
The Jetwing chief also pointed out that after the 21/4 incident, the local tourism space is nowhere close to recovering and has not bounced back. However, some sections of the sector claim that speedy recovery is taking place. According to her, only the informal sector has shown some recovery and the formal sector recovery is around
“I don’t think we will see the normal numbers of arrivals before December but maybe after that there would be a gradual pick up. Decline in tourist arrivals reflects low income from the industry as well. We are nowhere close to what it was before the Easter Sunday attacks,” noted Cooray.
While it is expected that a proper recovery would kick off in the following eight to nine months, Cooray stressed that strategy wise, Sri Lanka needs to focus on its unique selling points and look at marketing the same, accordingly.