LMD Interview – Tourism Sector Update (March 2018)

 

Date – 15th March 2018

What is the tourist industry or Government doing to curb incidences such as Tuk-Tuk scams/ fake tour guides?

  • Tourists are increasingly becoming more aware of it as, unlike in the past where you would depend on brochures provided by official tour operators, they read blogs done by other tourists which highlight these issues more prominently
  • A related issue is with regard to unlicensed tour guides in the city.
  • This is an opportunity for Sri Lankan tourism to capitalize on, as in the absence of such tour guides, tourists themselves may get into it as a business. A Chinese tour group may have a Chinese tour guide who is also a tourist.
  • Similar to the licensed tour guides that operate in the cultural triangle, the government can introduce a similar system in Colombo

What can be done to improve the state of the National Carrier; Sri Lankan Airlines?

  • Given the financial woes facing Sri Lankan, it’s difficult to expect much in terms of improving the quality of service of the airlines
  • Instead the focus should be on opening it up to attract more airlines; particularly budget airlines.
  • The success of tourist destination such as Thailand, Indonesia can partly be explained by the effort made to attract budget airlines to the destinations in order to facilitate high tourist volumes.
  • Given that we are catering more to profile of tourists that prefer budget airlines, this would be a positive development in terms of achieving the tourist arrivals targets

How is the level of Environmental Sustainability of the tourism industry?

  • This is an area that needs to be paid attention to given recent incidences of over-crowding at National Parks and historic sites
  • Steps taken to limit the number of vehicles entering National parks would be a positive step
  • There is also a need to broad base the tourist hotspots. Ex: There are close to 30 National Parks in Sri Lanka but the lion share of tourists are concentrated in a few places
  • Part of the reason for this is because the tour itinerary followed by tour operators has not really changed in the past 20-30 years.
  • Broad basing tourism hotspots can help to ease the pressure on popular tourist locations while providing the space for other locations to develop.
  • You can also make incremental investments to reduce the overcrowding at popular tourist attractions. Ex: Issuing tickets with timed entry to Sigiriya

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