Sri Lanka’s tourism sector nets US$ 1.7 Billion in foreign exchange

 ‘But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. This is a US$ 10 Billion industry’, says Rohantha Athukorale

At the head table: Amrith Perera, Treasurer, Madhubani Perera, Director, Milanka Gajanayake, MD, Rohantha Athukorale, Chairman, Mahen Kariyawasan, Malraj Kiriella DG, Devendra Senaratne, VP and Dirk Grigson Chairman, Sub Committee. (Pic by Kamal Bogoda)

by Steve A. Morrell

Chairman Tourism Promotion Bureau, Rohantha Athukorale, said that although tourism earnings in foreign exchange was US$ 1.7 billion in 2014, its potential was not exploited more enthusiastically.

"The value chain was substantial. Its growth currently could be said to be minimal subject to what Sri Lanka had to offer. Areas that had still not been explored included beach boys, three wheelers, hotel operators, and our natural advantage of literally the sand, sea, wild life, sea sports, Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) diving and similar attractions", he said.

Athukorale was addressing a news conference organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) in Colombo last week.

He said that re-branding is now an essential part of tourism promotion. A re–branding option being considered is ‘One Island, 1,000 Treasures’. ‘Brand Sri Lanka’ is strong and a growing destination among travelers. There is no reason why Sri Lanka could not grow exponentially.

Internationally positive vibes that Sri Lanka was a growing ‘value for money’ destination enhanced its reputation for influx of wide ranging visitors from East to West, the Chairman said.

CEO, Colombo Exhibition Center, Imran Hassen, in a short video presentation, said the ‘Sancharaka Udawa 2015’ will broad-base tourism’s additions and project an experience that could be equaled comparing other regional tourist destinations. The exhibition will be held from April 24-25 at the BMICH.

Approximately 60 tour operators, and all those connected with tourism will be represented at the exhibition.

Entrance for visitors will be free of charge. However, exhibitors will be charged a nominal fee for space.

Asked by the media on tourism progress since its inauguration five years ago, President, SLTPB, Mahen Kariyawasm said undoubtedly there was improvement, but that did not mean there was nothing more to do.

"Subject to its growth and increasing potential, in line with demand and the wants of the sophisticated visitor, we have to be sensitive to these demands and be in a position to relate to such attractions", he noted.

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