Govt. unveils strategic plan for tourism

Attracting high spenders earning expected to reach US$ 2.75bn by 2016

FDI to reach US$ 3bn to create capacity

Private sector investment US$ 500bn by 2020, govt to spend US$ 20bn

At last!
Is this it, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa (left) seems to ask Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa (right) at the launch of the much awaited Tourism Development Strategy 2011-2016, while his deputy Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena (centre) looks confused. Pic by Dimuthu Premarathna

By Mario Andree

The Economic Development Ministry yesterday launched its long overdue five year strategic plan for development and sustainability.

Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said the government had clearly identified several areas which needed development for the country to achieve its ambitious goal of 2.5 million tourists by 2016 hoping to earn more than US$ 2.75 billion in foreign exchange.

He underlined several key areas in which the private sector could get involved.

"The government was expecting to attract more than US$ 3 billion in foreign direct investment to support the industry that needs to add around 22,500 additional rooms to its current capacity. According to the strategic plan, we expect investments from the private sector to amount to more than US$ 500 billion by 2020 while the public sector would invest close to US$ 20 million," Dr. Godahewa said.

The government is also strategising to attract high-spending tourists, diversifying from the current market to achieve US$ 2.75 billion in earnings and creating more than 500,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities.

The government expects to attract more than four million tourists by 2020 with the foreign earnings expected to reach US$ 8 billion at the same time.

In the initial stage of positioning Sri Lanka as the world’s most treasured tourism destination, Dr. Godahewa said the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and other stake holders would create a conducive environment to attract high spending tourists and ensure their departure at a positive note which would contribute to enhance the country’s image.

He said that the country would be marketed under eight themes displaying Sri Lanka as a favourable tourist destination and for its prestige of being the wonder of Asia.

In conclusion Dr. Godahewa said the cabinet had appointed a committee to evaluate the procedures of several line agencies to make it better and easier for investors to invest in the tourism sector.

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