SLTDA in fresh push to make Sigiriya an iconic tourist destination

With the advice of the Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has taken initiatives to develop Sigiriya City as an iconic tourist destination in the world map in order to attract more tourists and enable them to get a remarkable experience.

Considering the historic, wildlife and cultural richness of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and City, there is a necessity to develop activities, infrastructure facilities and standards of services provided with the aim of expansion of the tourist satisfaction.

Referring to the growth of tourism sector in Sri Lanka, Minister of Tourism Development, Christian Religious Affairs and Lands John Amaratunga said: “Challenge of growth of tourism arrivals demand more infrastructure facilities and standard services with collective responsibility to promote convenient, safe and secure travel in the country.”

On the aspect of diversification of tourist industry, Deputy Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Arundika Fernando said: “We need to focus more on heritage tourism in order to maximise the new opportunities which needs to face the competitiveness of destinations with the cultural assets of the country.”

Addressing the priorities in tourism industry can only be achieved through improvement in service quality and establishment of services with customer expectations. “Service quality of the tourism sectorhas the ability to effectively support the growth of tourist arrivals with higher level of contribution to national economy,” said SLTDA Chairman Paddy Withana.

SLTDA Director General Malraj B. Kiriella expressed that many tourists visit Sigiriya and consider it a topmost attraction in the country. “Therefore, we need dynamic strategies to improve facilities and services to make the cultural asset of Sigiriya as an iconic destination in the world map. Considering this, Sri Lanka Tourism has taken an initiative to upgrade services with more facilities and to improve international recognition.”

On 8 and 9 April, at Sigiriya Heritage Site, Amaratunga and Fernando will preside over the program ‘Launching of New Tourism Services & Facilities in Sigiriya’ with other VIPs and officials as the first step of initiatives. The ceremony is promulgated with cultural shows, opening of new tourist police post, launching of an express tourist bus service, awarding of licenses to trained tourist guides, certification for new tourist friendly eating places and also granting of licenses for all new tourist establishments under SLTDA’s initiative on absorption of the informal sector.

Absorption of informal establishment becomes very crucial to ensure the quality of tourism service providers in the country. SLTDA has initiated this project on absorption of informal tourist establishments targeting highly populated tourist areas in the country which was commenced from the last quarter of 2015. Under this programme, Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa were covered as the first step and secondly Sigiriya was focused considering high population of informal sector tourist establishments and tourist arrivals growth in the area. This bolster to catering the traffic, avoid unauthorised establishments within the core area of Sigiriya. SLTDA has identified around 100 establishments at the Survey, out of that around 60% comply with SLTDA’s criterion and majority of them who have fulfilled with the documentary requirements to be licensed under this programme in Sigiriya.

Parallel to project on absorption of informal sector, SLTDA has taken an initiative to launch the certification for the eating places, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the local authority of the respective area and the Ind-Expo Certification in the Sigiriya area. The two types of certification are granted in these places with ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades. Furthermore, this project of the SLTDA aims to cover popular small eating places in tourist zones in order to satisfy tourists with quality and hygienic food. By participating in this project, the relevant eating places will get the advantage of supplying clean, hygienically prepared, tasty food and also to obtain more recognition in order to create more demand.

A number of complaints were made during the past years on the harassments occurring due to the improper behavior of some in the Sigiriya. Thus, necessity of a police tourist post within the Sigiriya area was emphasized by the tourists, Tour Guide Association and Hotel Associations. Therefore, a new Tourist Police Post will be established at CCF office complex in the site to address the above issues.

Furthermore, SLTDA has launched a special training to around sixty number of SLTDA registered area and site guides in Sigiriya. This training course includes career, skill development, customer care and capacity building programme to uplift the professionalism of guides. The trained site and area guides will be provided an additional value with issuing of new licenses, Identity Cards and special uniforms. The Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) joint hands with SLTDA to implement this plan of uplifting of the professionalism of guiding in this area.

As destination tour, SLTDA with the collaboration of Expressway Transport Company Ltd. will launch a tourist friendly comfortable super luxury bus services in order to provide enthusiastic and comfortable tour to Sigiriya from Colombo. The journey starts from Colombo Fort at 5 a.m. and departure from Sigiriya at 3 p.m. and which will make a swifter drive of around four hours to the destination and back. This will enable transfer conveniently more local and foreign tourists between Colombo and Sigiriya.

Climbing to the top of Sigiriya Rock is an experience one will never forget. The ruins and the view from the sky palace are stunning for tourists. However, the tourists have limited indulge experience and quality memories in the Sigiriya area. Therefore, SLTDA, National Craft Council and the Association of Dambulla and Sigiriya Tourism Promotion (ADSTP)is planning to introduce cultural shows in the National Craft Village in order to make it alive with conducive environment for tourists by activating more facilities and services such as live craft making, food and entertainment. It is planning to conduct regular shows to bring more and more tourists into the craft village by making opportunities to the craft makers and sellers to successfully do their businesses.

Further, tourism cannot develop or grow without basic elements of infrastructure facilities in place, including clean environment, sanitary, access to information with other required standard quality services. Therefore, SLTDA is planning to work with other relevant government agencies and private sector towards achieving these specific needs for further improvement at the Sigiriya Cultural Site.

See more at: FT

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