- Says renewed focus required in ICT and employee reskilling
- Points out adopting protocols to international standards is a challenge but essential
- Says COVID-19 is an opportunity to develop and promote lesser-known destinations
- Stresses need for govt. and private sector to collaborate better
Sri Lanka’s hard-hit tourism sector will require a fresh flow of investments, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said yesterday, as steering the industry through the pandemic requires renewed efforts in ICT and human resource management.
The latest economic outlook of ADB asserted that investment would be required within the local tourism industry to increase the use of ICT so that tourists are able to have improved access to information. An upliftment in these areas is imperative to reduce common touch points that can spread the virus, ADB said.
To work with these new technologies, investments needed to be pumped in, mainly to the training and development of employees as they have to be reskilled.
“Overcrowding at tourist sites was a problem before COVID-19 and will be a concern once again as tourism recovers,” ADB said in its flagship Asian Development Outlook 2021 (ADO) report that was themed ‘Financing a Green and Inclusive Recovery’, released yesterday.
Due to COVID-19, travellers are likely to be more conscious of health and hygiene. Hence, tourists would require readily available information on health and safety protocols before setting off, it added.
“Adopting such protocols to international standards will be important to winning travellers’ confidence.
Implementing the necessary protocols throughout the travel industry will be a challenge under the current capacity constraint,” the report stressed.
Sri Lanka is one of 65 countries granted ‘safe travel’ stamps by the World Travel and Tourism Council.
While the current scenario for the industry looks grim, ADB pointed out that the COVID-19 crisis provides Sri Lanka with an opportunity to address overcrowding of tourist sites by developing and promoting lesser-known destinations.
To ensure the successful revival of the tourism industry, ADB said it is essential for the government and private sector to “collaborate better” to boost domestic demand until international travel picks up and promote Sri Lanka as a safe destination.
However, the private sector tourism stakeholders and tourism authorities are currently at loggerheads over new tourism legislation, where the role so far played by the private sector is proposed to be trimmed, despite their contribution to the industry via taxes and levies.
Tourist arrivals collapsed under the pandemic, with no arrivals at all for the nine months in which the borders were closed.
Following the reopening of doors to tourists in December 2020, on a pilot basis for limited flights, Sri Lanka began accepting flights from selected regions in January 2021.
Even though the island nation has been innovative in its efforts by facilitating the sector with the ‘bio-bubble’ concept, ADB stated that the industry must adjust to new requirements, cater to new kinds of demand and compete effectively with other destinations, as global tourism picks up.