50% increase in tourist per capita spending by 2020: Tourism Minister

By Himal Kotelawalaghk

The Government intends to see a 50% increase in per capita spending of tourists coming into Sri Lanka by 2020, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said yesterday.

Speaking at the TBCAsia 2016 travel bloggers conference organised by Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, the Minister said that online platforms such as TripAdvisor, LonelyPlanet, Kayak and Air BnB are revolutionising the way Sri Lanka is marketed in the modern age.

Air BnB, in particular, is already listing around 500 properties – i.e. private homes and apartments – in Sri Lanka, he said, adding that it is clear that times are changing and Sri Lanka must change or be left behind.

“With the entry of top international brands like Anantara, Sheraton, Movenpick, Hyatt Regency, Shangri-La, Marriot, and ITC in the near future, we want to increase the per capita spending of tourists by at least 50% by 2020. We must also use the new channels to promote our MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) capability, which is somewhat lagging at the moment,” he said.

Recalling remarks made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Sri Lanka Tourism last month highlighting the strategic plan for tourism development in this country, Amaratunga said that tourism as Sri Lanka has experienced it over the past 50 years will see a “drastic change” going forward.

“While we have come a long way these 50 years, it seems the real challenge is only just beginning,” he said.

The Minister invited the private sector to play a more proactive role in developing tourism in Sri Lanka.

“Tourism is growing at a rate of 20% year-on-year but we do not want to be complacent and I call upon the private sector, just like in this instance, to take the lead in showing the way forward.  We must reach out and tap the full potential of our Asian neighbors, India and China in particular, while not forgetting the powerful group that is known as the Asian Millennials,” he said.

See more at: FT

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