Vallibel Group Chairman Dhammika Perera spoke this week at the Tourism Leaders’Summit and International Research Symposium 2017 at the BMICH held to celebrate the World Tourism Day raised serious concerns about achieving the four million arrivals target set by the government.
Perera responding to a question posed by the Panel Chair Dinesh Weerakkody Chairman National Human Resource Development Council of Sri Lanka said: “Achieving the four million target by 2020 would be very difficult without proper connectivity.”
“We need at least another 20 more flights into the country on a daily basis. Spending money on promotion and marketing would be worthless without fixing this problem,” Perera said.
He noted that Sri Lanka’s natural arrival growth is around 5-10 percent and therefore by 2020 we can only get to three million tourists and that too would be a challenge.
Responding to a question from the audience via SMS as to whether there would be a bloodbath with the opening three more new five-star properties in Colombo in 2018, Perera said it would be good for the industry because they will attract new visitors into the country.
Other panel members who participated in the discussion were Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Sri LankaVice President/General ManagerTimothy Wright, LSRChairman/Managing DirectorThilak Weerasinghe, Colombo International Financial and Trade Organizations for Sri Lanka Tourism, World BankTrade and CompetitivenessProgramme LeaderTatiana Nenova, Mid Sweden University, SwedenProf.Dimitri Ioannides and Galle Face HotelGeneral ManagerDeni A. Dukic.
The majority of the panelists responding to the final question posed to them as to whether Sri Lanka was promoting the destination aggressively to take advantage of the changing travel trends around the world said: “Very much more needs to be done by the government to promote Sri Lanka as one of the finest island for memorable, authentic and diverse experiences.”