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Tourism is on the rise again, but what does Colombo offer our overseas visitors?

12 December 2023 02:45 pm - 16     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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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?


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  Comments - 16

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  • Lalith Wednesday, 13 December 2023 03:17 PM

    Don't compare with Singapore... Every Singaporean is innovative and every minister hard working

    A tourist Wednesday, 13 December 2023 07:21 PM

    This is why Jaffna airport should be expanded for larger planes to land and improve tourism.

    Sambo Saturday, 16 December 2023 07:36 AM

    Well we could offer plenty of taxes with variable amounts.

    Uditha Jayatunga Monday, 18 December 2023 01:47 AM

    City of Singapore has several world class attractions. Colombo city can is severely short of them. Even attractions like Dehiwala zoo are not advertised in hotels as far as I know. A religious tour of many multifaith centres such as Temples, Churches and Kovils could be an attraction. Lotus Tower needs to be advertised in all hotels. During vesak, tour around many pandals must be an attraction. Colombo perahara too must be widely advertised in hotels

    Gamini Jeerasinghe Saturday, 10 February 2024 01:24 PM

    Colombo zoo used to be the star zoo in Asia in the early 60s. Not anymore. The caging and treatment of the animals at CMB Zoo is deplorable. No tourist wants to see that. The CMB museum is archaic and geared towards bedazzeling the village people. So it's not an attraction. No information on the prehistory of SL e.g Balangoda Man etc. In opinion CMB is about 65 - 70 years behind singapore. About 35 years behind KL. Parts of the city need to be made cleaner. Transportation sucks. Thank the Indians for putting polluting tuk tuks Blame our entitled politicians. Tourists don't come here to see Monks and temples.

    Fred Tuesday, 19 December 2023 10:38 AM

    There is so much you can do to improve Colombo just by doing the basics well , good clean(garbage free) roads well lit and sign posted well, pavements without potholes, orderly traffic which follow the rules, make sure everything is working and clean in public places toilets included and regard for public safety will bring everyone back not just the tourists Innovation can come after that, once you get the basics going

    Rubio Ramirez Wednesday, 20 December 2023 12:41 AM

    As a tourist that comes every year i can say the Visa ( only 1 month 50 USD ,after 100 USD) fee is to high and for extensoin you have to go Colombo or need an agent. You need also temporary SL driving License. That is also to pay. I can better give the the money to local shops, drivers etc.

    Danny Nuggs Thursday, 21 December 2023 07:41 PM

    Let's start from the airport. Dirty restrooms, old ragged carpets. Not the type of welcome as a tourist when you land. First impressions matter.

    Vino De Croos Friday, 22 December 2023 07:15 PM

    Following is my suggestion: 1. Restaurants should post their hotel menus with prices online. 2. Visa extensions should be available online. It is very difficult to obtain an extension in Colombo. 3. Hotels should advertise and respond immediately to any queries

    Cherath Tuesday, 26 December 2023 08:05 AM

    A sky train or a subway system till midnight, food courts serving an array of local and other Asian dishes set up at 1 km apart, hot air balloon, boating and sea faring facilities, open air cultural performances with cookery demonstrations, prices and tariffs displayed at the entrances and most importantly, mobile toilets at each and every location of the listed. Removing the Visa fee for SAARC and commonwealth citizens for 4 weeks is a good start. Remember, you can float yourself into oblivion through over zealousness. Make everything good vfm. Sri Lanka, currently, is also known as 'The most expensive poor country in the World'.

    We the tarts Saturday, 06 January 2024 02:46 PM

    Male and female tarts

    Smh Thursday, 11 January 2024 04:10 AM

    Sri Lankans are prideful, lazy and arrogant. They complain about lack and the economy and their hardships. They expect tourists to give them money freely by appealing to emotion. If they don't succeed this way they cheat tourists out of money by overcharging or tricking them into paying double. You cannot build a country like Singapore with those traits. Hard work and discipline; not sympathy and cheating.

    Concerned Sunday, 14 January 2024 07:28 AM

    CLEANLINESS. Until and unless we can keep our roads, parks, hiking trails, waterways, rivers, beaches and the Public Toilets clean and well maintained SL will be a tourist deterrent not an attraction. Agree, start with the BIA.

    Harper Christie Saturday, 20 January 2024 09:55 PM

    Return air fares from London - Colombo are ridiculously high. - Sri Lankan airlines needs to drastically reeduce its air fares. The SL visa system needs a complete overhall - far too expensive to extend, and toruists don't appreciate losing a whole day in the visa processing centre in Colombo. Furthermore, when western tourists go to the visa centre, they see Sri Lankan bureaucracy at its worst.

    Ganesh Friday, 02 February 2024 07:04 PM

    Firstly it's got a lot to do with our laws and customs. Scrap these so called dry days. Open bars till late at least 1 am. Clean up Colombo, change clearly have a plan to identify the thosa kadai as an eatery and not a hotel. Provide a vibrant night life.

    REEZ Saturday, 10 February 2024 07:09 AM

    Addressing the issue of the pedestrian crossing in Fort man is imperative, as its current state has become a source of ridicule. Tourists find themselves waiting indefinitely for the green light, which never seems to materialize. I have personally informed numerous tourists to navigate the road cautiously due to the malfunctioning signal. Urgent attention and rectification of this situation are necessary to enhance the safety and convenience of both locals and visitors in the area.


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