Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka are on the rise again, but what does Colombo offer overseas visitors?
Sri Lanka appears on course to meet its 1.5 million tourist target for 2023, and have set their sights on increasing that number by 1 million next year.
But for all the history, culture and natural beauty the country has to offer, how much does Colombo contribute to the tourism industry?
There are the many shopping malls and extravagant restaurants, but other than this pointy thing sticking up in the air, what can a tourist see or do in Colombo city that is truly unique to Sri Lanka?
The lack of a nightlife – and you probably shouldn’t get Diana Gamage started on that – only narrows down the entertainment options available for tourists in the hours after the city comes to a standstill.
The few available options, nightclubs and pubs in particular, are too far spread out making access to tourists a challenge.
So what is the solution to this?
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking at the 58th Hotel Association event recently, is reported to have asked hoteliers to think out of the box in developing a strategy to make the country, and Colombo in particular, a more attractive tourism spot.
These views were echoed by tourism minister Harin Fernando, who called on the tourism industry to be innovative, stating that the role of the government was merely to establish an environment for tourism.
Ironically, the minister made these comments at an event to launch a new campaign titled ‘You’ll come back for more’ in a bid to boost tourism, to promote the country as a tourist destination.
Despite being a tenth the size of Sri Lanka, Singapore has developed a tourism industry that raked in approximately 10 billion USD last year – dwarfing Sri Lanka’s revenue of 1.1 billion USD – and providing a blueprint for what a successful tourist industry could look like.
Building Colombo into a location that draws more tourists will not only help Sri Lanka’s tourism revenue, but will also benefit locals who are starved of the kinds of attractions enjoyed overseas.
Tourists may come back for more, but will Colombo have more to offer?