Dr. Rohantha Athukorala at the OPA head quarters addressing the gathering
One of Sri Lanka's top professionals Dr Rohantha Athukorala addressing the Young Professionals Association( OPA) on the topic " Sri Lanka Towards a $100 billion economy" pinioned " Tourism gives a country an opportunity to come out with new ideas, new concepts and dreams which no other discipline can give back to a country. Sri Lanka has got that chance now! It's all about what we do together as coalition governments, coalition public sector boards to make Sri Lanka a $100 billion economy he said.
What is required is for the tourism industry policy makers and private sector to rally closer than ever before and behind their respective tourism brand marketing entities said Chairman Athukorala. Tourism must be a major catalyst for change, for the society as a whole and for this to happen we must invest on people and research. We must develop strategic partnerships linking the Tourism industry with top academia both in Sri Lanka and globally so that Sri Lanka become part of the Global value chain( GVC'c) he said.
Tourism must bring a fresh perspective and access to new ideas, concepts, and dreams" let's make this happen together like what we did the Guinness Book of record attempts where three institutions came together- Sri Lanka Tourism, Sri Lanka Tea Board and Sri Lankan Airlines. The launch of the global on line video completion partnering google, the one million tree stories project partnering Rotary that was launched by Miss World Rolene Strauss, the 500 pod blue whales that live 30 km from Kalpitiya endorsed global specialist Andrew Stutton, Sri Lanka Tourism partnering the Dalada Maligama to create awareness on the 1067th Esela Perahera at the largest tourism fair in the east "Japan Tourism Expo 2015 in Tokoyo", Sri Lanka Tourism together with National Gem and Jewellery Association to auction a " blue sapphire" at the largest tourism fair in Scandinavia " TUR international travel fair 2015 to name a few he voiced.
Athukorala went on to say that "Growth of the tourism industry offers us a chance to take a step forward and to overcome our differences and capitalize on our diversity to connect Sri Lanka into the global value chain. This is our unique DNA . Let's Make this the best year for Sri Lanka tourism he voiced given that we are focussing on the $ 3 billion tourism receipts for 2015 with $250 + per day so end stacking the numbers he said.
"Let's make the tourism industry the the pillar of our economy, demands that our country and its people work in total partnership with the SME sector that is accounting for 49% of the tourism receipts" he said. It's important that the tourism industry to be together and making the policy makers become market driven."If we seize this chance for growth, then tourism can become a major tool for good and for our future prosperity that will account for 22-24% of GDP like many other developed tourism businesses.
We must keep tourism visible as an industry that brings economic stability, provides employment, and keeps the world connected which is why we launched the global online video competition where a ideal dream vacation branded " 365 day holiday". Meaning twenty lucky winners will get a twenty day holiday with a media link to make the vacation memorable. After all 77% of the travellers make decisions with on line data and hence this competition becomes unique said Athukorala.
As at end August Sri Lanka tourism has recorded a 16.8% growth with 1.1 million visitors coming into the country.