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LMD Interview – Tourism Sector Update


Speaker: Travis Gomez

Date – Jan 2018

Video length – 4:01 mins

How did the tourism sector fair in 2017?

  • 2017 was a challenging year with the tourism arrivals target falling short of what was expected.
  • This was partly due to weather related disruptions such as Dengue and flooding
  • These weather related disruptions seem to be taking place more frequently and regularly and hence they are likely to continue to affect the tourism sector
  • Another reason for the underperformance was the slowdown in tourist arrivals from the traditional tourist destinations such as Western Europe as well as shifting demographics where many more younger tourists who are more interested in experiential tourism are being drawn to Sri Lanka
  • However, this is being compensated by a pickup in tourist arrivals from Asia and Eastern Europe

What are your expectations for tourism sector in 2018?

  • The sentiment for the tourism sector performance in 2018 is that it would fare better
  • However, this is provided that Hotel operators accept the shift that has taken place in the tourism sector in terms of the geographical and demographic changes in tourist arrivals
  • Hotel operators need to up their game if they are to keep up with the growth shown by the informal sector
  • They shouldn’t view it as a threat but rather as an opportunity

What can we do to improve the Brand Image of Sri Lankan tourism?

  • We need to focus on and identify a consistent message for tourism.
  • Should the branding be a traditional view of Sri Lanka of being a destination for Sun, Sand and Beach as advocated by many traditional tour operations or should the branding be of a more holistic tourist destination offering a variety of experiences ranging from Heritage, Wildlife, adventure sports etc.
  • We need to get the branding right and answer the question of ‘What is Sri Lanka going to be known for?”

What are your thoughts on the practice of refusing to serve local tourists at certain establishments

  • The authorities have to look into this and prevent such incidences from happening as the local tourists make a significant contribution to the sector, particularly in the establishments along the Southern coast during the off season.
  • Most of the incidences that have been reported have been mainly relating to informal sector establishments.
  • The Informal sector now accounts for nearly 50% of the room capacity in Sri Lanka and the Budget Proposals for 2018 have acknowledged the role of the Informal sector.
  • Hence, since the informal sector has reached a critical mass, it is important for the government to step in and play a role.
  • The budget proposal to register supplementary establishments is a step in the right direction.

Source: Frontier Blog

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