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LMD Interview – Tourism Sector Update (April 2018)

 

Date – April 2018

How has the tourism industry been fairing up to now?

  • There were some issues recently due to weather disruptions, the unrest in Kandy as well as the most recent incidents where tourists were assaulted in places such as Mirissa.
  • Despite this, tourism earnings have picked up and the Government has revised up their tourism arrivals target for end 2018 to 3 mn.

What should the response be to incidents where tourists have been assaulted?

  • The formal tourist establishments have used these incidents as a justification to curb the growth of the informal sector along the coastal belt which has been growing at a rapid rate.
  • The Government too is looking at ways to make sure that measures that were proposed in the budget for 2018 such as a licensing system for Informal establishments are implemented.
  • While it is necessary to have some level of regulation to ensure the wellbeing of tourists, at the same time it is important not to overregulate the sector which could squander the growth that has been taking place in the sector, as it promotes more broad based growth.

The Government has announced that it would tear down illegal constructions along the coastline. Is this the most appropriate course of action?

  • Any constructions that are done in a haphazard/ unsafe manner that could destroy the overall appeal/ attractiveness of a particular location, should be curtailed.
  • But at the same time, residents in those tourist locations should be given the opportunity to take advantage of the tourism boom to better their livelihoods.
  • Hence there is a need to strike a balance between growth and ensuring the wellbeing of tourists.

Does a tourist get value for money in Sri Lanka?

  • Most hotels in Sri Lanka have high room rates which are maintained at a high level partly due to policies such as minimum room rates.
  • While at the same time, the quality of the facilities and the level of service doesn’t seem to be commensurate with the price being paid.
  • In conclusion, the perception is that tourists don’t seem to be getting value for money and hence this is an area to focus on for improvement.

Source: Frontier Blog

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