An upbeat Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Minister on Friday spoke of the increasing tourist arrivals, stressing that the industry now needs to maintain the momentum.
Minister John Amaratunga speaking at the Inauguration of the 7th edition of the Sancharaka Udawa exhibition organised by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) said that the trend displays the ‘tremendous potential’ the country has, while noting the need to maintain the newfound momentum.
“We have to keep the momentum going and ensure that the numbers go up,” the Minister said, adding that steps are being taken to cater to an increasing number of tourist arrivals in the country. Amaratunge also pointed to the importance of the tourism industry in a country looking at a large debt.
The Minister made these remarks in relation to the recent government statistics which placed the April tourist arrivals at a 17.5% increase compared to last year. The Minister noted that in 2010, tourist arrivals amounted to a mere 500,000, but have, as of today, increased to 2 million. According to recent statistics, last year’s tourist arrivals were 2,050,832 and between January-April 2017 alone, 765,202 tourist arrivals were recorded. The Minister also noted that this year the largest numbers of tourists were from India, followed by China.
“The Potential is enormous. It is up to the hoteliers – star hoteliers, boutique hotels – other establishments, restaurants, etc. to provide a good service to ensure that tourists who come to Sri Lanka will go back with a good message that Sri Lanka is at its best.” On Sancharaka Udawa, the Minister highlighted the importance of such an exhibition for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry as a platform for small scale as well as larger industries to showcase their products and services. SLAITO President Devindra Seneratne said that the exhibition has grown over the years, and this year has expanded further. “The show as a whole has been running year on year, and we have seen an increase in both exhibitors and visitors. The venue has for the past couple of years been the iconic BMICH and over the past years we have had the ability to increase the floor space and expand the area of the show to accommodate the increasing demand from our exhibitors.”
The exhibition which was frequented by 10,000 people last year, boasts 240 stalls this year.
Sancharaka Udawa primarily aims to promote small and medium scale services in the tourism industry. As such it showcases both popular hotel accommodations and other leisure related activities as well as many smaller tourism establishments, enabling these to “to interact with inbound tour operators and the public to create greater awareness of their tourism product, transact businesses and sign off agreements” said Seneratne. This year the exhibition will also feature a series of lectures related to the tourism industry which are open to the public. These lectures will touch on topics such as Sri Lankan tourism and wildlife, digital marketing, the importance of learning tourism, and career opportunities in the hospitality industry.
Source : FT