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Tourism stakeholder cautions not to kill the goose laying golden eggs

29 September 2015 02:49 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
A leading tour and hotel operator in the country called on the industry stakeholders to become sustainable and not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
“This industry has the potential to cure many, if not all the ills of the country. It is in fact the low hanging fruit. It is the golden egg,” John Keells Holdings Deputy Chairman Ajit Gunewardene said at Cinnamon Future of Tourism Summit 2015.
However, he said that the tourism industry is at a crossroad today, with an opportunity to create a long-term tourism product.
“One of the roads we could take will be to allow ad hoc unplanned development with very little oversight, quality checks and regulation. There is a school of thought that believes this route, where self-regulation and market forces determine the equilibrium, is the way forward,” he added.
Nearly half of Sri Lanka’s accommodation sector is unregulated and is developed in an ad hoc manner.
However, Gunewardene said that a blank slate is needed to create a sustainable long-term industry.
With a change of government and a new Tourism Minister in place, Sri Lanka has an opportunity to draw such a long-term strategy. The minister has said that a master plan would be created for 2020-2025.
“The other road is to create an industry that focuses on minimum quality standards, manages and monitors over-visitation and over-development and protects national treasures and resources, etc., essentially an industry that doesn’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” Gunewardene said.
In his opinion, the future tourist to Sri Lanka will come in search of authentic experiences of culture and heritage—away from their busy lives—and these products should be enhanced without losing their unique qualities.
“We can learn from the mistakes of other destinations as we decide the path we travel. So, which road will we take - the left fork or the right fork? Or maybe there is a middle path,” Gunewardene added.
He said that Sri Lanka Tourism is a joint venture between the government and the private sector stakeholders, who include large corporates, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and individuals.
 
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