Financial Times

Ambitious target of 2.5 mln tourists in 2016 achievable- industry official

By Quintus Perera

The present target by the Government of attracting 2.5 million tourists by 2016 is achievable since there is permanent peace, Sarath Fernando, President, Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association (CHSGA) told the Sunday Times FT.

He was asked by the newspaper whether achieving this target is possible since there have been many occasions in the past where previous targets, in many sectors, have not been achieved for different reasons. Sri Lanka now attracts between 400,000 to 500,000 tourists.

Mr Fernando was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference held in Colombo last week to announce the ‘Hotel Show by hotel sourced products and services’ to be held from July 16 to 18, 2010 at the BMICH.

He told the Sunday Times FT that today’s room strength is around 17,000 and to cater to 2.5 million tourists the industry needs around 40 to 50,000 rooms in 2016. He said that to service 50,000 rooms there should also have to be infrastructure in place.

He declined to comment on the impact on tourism of roadblocks and checking which still exists. When asked about any improvements in tourist arrivals after the end of the war, he said he did not have statistics but pointed out that the tourism industry in Sri Lanka is seasonal.

He said that today he finds it comfortable to drive into “Hilton’ for a dinner, than earlier. Faisz er Musthapha, Minister of Tourism Promotion said that after nearly 30 years of war, tourism will be the first beneficiary of peace and noted that the industry is private sector driven where there is a collective effort. Thus decisions with regard to the industry are taken collectively by the government and the private sector.

He said that they have to further improve the industry as they do very little, to improve the final product.
‘Hotel Show 2010’ – Showcase for Hotel Supplies and Services is organized by CHSGA and where around 200 exhibitors from over 30 countries are expected to participate.

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