AGSEP Research,a key unit of the Asian German Sports Exchange Programme (AGSEP),a recognised local non-commercial government-associated-organisation recently released new insights into obstacles faced by tourism promoters and investors in the country.
AGSEP,which supports the development of the country, has been instrumental for over a decade in publishing valuable key observations through its research and scientific surveys.
AGSEP’s recently released research findings reveals key observations on the tourism industry and impediments which are hindering further growth and economic benefits.
Comparing other popular Asian tourist destinations, the report noted that Sri Lanka remains an underperforming destination. According to statistics of annual tourist arrivals among Asian countries, while Thailand and Malaysia enjoy over 35 million and 26 million respectively, Vietnam 10 million, Philippines 5 million and Laos 3 million, Sri Lanka is comparatively lower with approximately 2 million only.
Citing an example the report states that, Thailand’s Pattaya, through events and sports grew its visitors from 6.2 million arrivals in 2007 to 9.2 million in 2015. Similarly, through the development of reciprocal sports exchange programmes with Malaysia’s Langkawi Local Authority, Sri Lanka too can increase its visitor ratio.
Additionally, the report notes the key link between the promotionalbudget and the annual tourist arrivals. Presenting the impressive marketing budgets for tourism incurred in countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia and the dismal budget allocated in Sri Lanka.
Noting the important relationship between the country’s travel and tourism contribution to GDP, citing a 2014 World Travel and Tourism Council Report, AGSEP notes Sri Lanka is placed a dismal 73 with tourism’s share being only 11.1% towardsGDP.
According to AGSEP, an increase in tourist arrivals will positively and directly influence the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP.
Comparing Sri Lanka and Vietnam as a destination, AGSEP notes both countries showcase similar preconditions for tourism. However, in terms of arrivals Sri Lanka dismally lags behind.
Based on a recent scientific research conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, a total of 1000 questionnaires were answeredby tourists from 60 different visiting nations.
The questionnaire respondents were asked a series of questions at the Bandaranaike International Departure section regarding detailsoftheir stay. Questions included particulars of their demographics, details and purpose of the visit, perception of local communities and individuals, experience encountered as an off-season visitor in terms of charges, weather etc., and included other qualitative questions including safety etc.
The respondents; 57% female and43% male with origins of countries included England, Australia, China and Germany.
Based on the findings, the 80% of the visitors experienced no negative effectsas a result of the onset of monsoon season, the research questioned the harmful and unjustified off-season concept citing the beneficiaries as the foreign operators, while the deprived sectors as a result of these perceptions being Sri Lanka’s hospitality sector.
Overall, based on the results of the survey, visitors had a positive result of their stay. 96% of tourists had felt welcomes, 84% confirmed they could make contact with locals and 80% praised the friendly, helpful and open-minded Sri Lankans.
Results and impressions of country’s natural beauty is also promising among visitors. With over 90% of those polled cited the opinion as ‘true’ being ‘the variety of Sri Lanka’s nature as fascinating’.
Towards the development of tourism and arrivals to the country, AGSEPproposes a solution of ‘Smart Marketing’ as the remedy. This includes building Sri Lanka‘s image and promoting the nation as an ideal destination all year–round ’12 month’ destination.Additionally, the solution also needs to showcase Sri Lanka unique ‘Smiles’and combine this with Lanka’s beautiful nature and wildlife.
AGSEP Research has also conducted research and feasibility studies on promoting Ella as a top tourism destination among young European travellers, promoting nautical tourism in the country through sailing and boating with vacation and holiday activities and also Sri Lanka as a retirement destination for senior citizens. AGSEP aims to publish the findings of these studies shortly.