Business Times

Sri Lanka tourism with a local touch

With tourism now poised for a smooth flow of visitors, its stakeholders are making an attempt to localize the industry. In this effort, the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) is organizing a one day meeting place for all tourism-related service providers at “Sancharaka Udawa” (Tourism Dawning ) – Tourism Products Meet Mart – to be held on January 27 at Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel, Colombo.

At the launch of TPMM held last week in Colombo, SLAITO President Nilmin Nanayakkara said that this is the first time this type of event takes place and its main objective is to bring less exposed areas of the industry to the mainstream and widen the scope.

He said as a result there would be increases in transportation, accommodation and resourcing persons with foreign language skills. He said that the widened range would include boutique hotels, villas, guest houses, bungalows and heritage properties and home stays for tourists. Restaurants in mid-way (road) destinations, bars, coffee houses, are also added to the list and he said that they are looking at every unexplored avenue.

Mr Nanayakkara said that their focus will be entertainment and adventure ranging from traditional ones to night clubs, pool bars, sundown cocktail evenings as well as drama and theatre, sports and soft adventure such as water sports, boat trips, cycle trails, white water rafting, mountain climbing, camping sites and dormitory type accommodation and wild life parks. “All foreign language speaking individuals are invited to register for opportunity and training to become licensed tour guides and chauffer guides,” the SLAITO chief added.

He said that they promote bank loan schemes on special interest rates for potential investors and provide advice and guidelines and also to get insurance companies to provide consultation on health and safety insurance for tourists.

After the launch, the Business Times asked Mr Nanayakkara as to whether there is a safety net in place to prevent fallouts of negative tourism such as paedophiles, prostitution, baby farming, etc pointing out that earlier there was heavy protests by religious organizations against such activities. Mr Nanayakkara said that earlier they had various campaigns such as poster and hoarding campaigns to contain such activities, but at the present juncture, it is too early to comment. But he assured that with the increase in the momentum of the industry they would definitely plan out proper safety nets to protect the culture and morality of the people.

Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, Deputy Minister of Economic Development also addressed the gathering.

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