Sri Lankan politicians and other pressure groups should shed their differences and unite and create a peaceful environment in Sri Lanka to promote tourism which is the quickest source of obtaining the much needed foreign exchange to the country.
This was opined by the Minister of Transport, Highways and Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardane who was the Chief Guest at the World Tourism day celebrations at the Tourism Ministry yesterday. He said that Sri Lanka’s economy badly needs foreign exchange to import not only oil, drugs, fertilizer but also raw materials. “The quickest and most economical way to obtain Dollars is through tourism and it also creates direct and indirect income opportunities in large numbers.”
He said that the government has identified tourism as a key thrust area that could stimulate the economy and had taken several steps to promote it. “When I was in Russia to attend a World Film festival the global film fraternity was asking several negative questions on Sri Lanka like why there were so many road protests, power cuts and long queues to buy essentials. They said that these don’t encourage tourists who want to enjoy an alien country.”
The Minister said that this is why steps were taken democratically to clear these negative sentiments and today Sri Lanka is ready and open to accept tourists. He recalled that tourism netted in around USD 4 billion plus revenue in 2018 and with proper focused marketing Sri Lanka can now look at that in the future too. Meanwhile former international Chamber of commerce President Tissa Jayawera said that the tourism industry is 99% dominated by the private sector but it was sad to see that the government sector which only has 1% involvement spends more money when it comes to tourism expenditure.
UNICEF Representative for Sri Lanka, Christian Skoog said that Sri Lanka should aggressively promote their bio diversity when marketing tourism. He said that today tourism due to a triple blow; Easter Sunday Attack, C-19 and economic downturn is restarting from almost scratch. “This is a good opportunity to kick aside unsustainable practices that were sometimes earlier adopted and start new.