Sri Lanka is targeting to attract four million visitors by 2020 and is looking at revenue from tourism to be over US$ 5 billion, Tourism Development, Lands and Christian Religious Affairs Minister, John Amaratunga said.
Speaking at the 50th anniversary celebrations of Sri Lanka Tourism he said they also looking at increasing the national room inventory to 45,000. Today the industry employment generation currently stands at around 130,000 and this will more than double by 2020.”
“Our target is to raise the per capita spend of each visitor from the present US$ 165 per night to US$ 250 per night soon”.“The industry will also see large scale employment generation and skills development to raise the current service levels to international standards.”
“The Minister said it was in 1966 that the government at the time decided to develop tourism in a planned and systematic manner. I would like to describe the late President J.R. Jayewardene as the father of tourism in Sri Lanka for it was his foresight and efforts that led to the setting up of the institutional framework for tourism development through the Ceylon Tourist Board Act in 1966 and Ceylon Hotels Corporation.”
“If President J.R. Jayewardene was the father,the mother was none other than world’s first woman Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike who built on the foundation laid by President Jayewardene to develop the required infrastructure for tourism development in this country.
“Unlike in the past, Sri Lanka is no longer marketed as a ‘sun, sea and sand’ destination.
“New attractions combined with the innovative approach of our hospitality industry are attracting niche markets and I believe this is the way forward.”
Meanwhile the entry of top international brands, such as Anantara, Sheraton, Movenpick, Hyatt Regency, Shangri-La, Marriot, ITC and the upgrading of existing hotels and the emergence of the luxury boutique segment has contributed to the changing profile of inbound tourists.
“While we pursue these goals we have not forgotten our domestic tourists who kept the industry going during the most difficult days. Following cabinet approval we have begun implementing a promotional programme aimed at domestic tourists under the theme “see, feel and protect.”
“Starting from this year, the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management has doubled its intake of students from 3,200 last year to 6,000 students this year.
This has been done with the introduction of new courses and the setting up of new satellite hotel schools in key tourist locations.”
“In the past nine months we have opened three new satellite hotel schools in Hambantota, Passikudah and Negombo. More of these schools will be opened wherever there is demand for it.”
“Sri Lanka Tourism can look back at the past 50 years with a sense of pride and achievement. It is also an opportune time to recall with gratitude all those who have contributed to the growth of the tourism industry to what it is today.
This is one industry that suffered the brunt of the three decade long war and also the devastating tsunami that dealt a heavy blow. But as history has shown, this has been one of the most resilient industries thanks to the commitment and dedication of its pioneers whom we salute today.”