SLAITO seeks social relationships with stakeholders to sustain industry
By Anjali Caldera
Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) seeks to build social relationships with all tourism industry stakeholders in Sri Lanka, to support them during this time of crisis, further encouraging them to remain in the business and to rebuild their trust in the industry.
Explaining his plans for the sustainable development of Sri Lanka Tourism to Ceylon FT, newly elected President of SLAITO, Thilak Weerasinghe said that SLAITO wishes to visit regional tourism service providers; travel agencies, tour operators, guest house/restaurant owners, guide associations to understand their real situation with their businesses and support them, educating and providing them with the required training to help them adapt once the country re-opens for tourists.
Sri Lanka Tourism expects to welcome 5 million tourists targeting revenue of US$ 10 billion when tourism resumes. To achieve this the industry should have an effective strategic marketing plan, hence this time is ideal to plan for the future of the industry, he further said.
SLAITO expects to pay more attention to improving the product value of the industry with the support of the rest of the stake holders; seeking new avenues for tourism promotions. Presently, SLAITO works with SLAITO Youth in initiating several projects in this regard with relation to developing content, documentary making and photography depicting certain tourist attractions, thereby increasing the product value and Sri Lanka’s brand value.
SLAITO further expects to restart tourism by bringing clusters of passengers to Sri Lanka from countries which have COVID-19 under control, strictly adhering to health guidelines.
Discussions are underway with hoteliers in tourist destinations (away from residential areas), as in Passikudah, Arugambay – beach stays, to provide accommodation and activities to the said clusters for 14 days.
Weerasinghe further explained that these clusters are not allowed to travel around the country and will need to limit their activities to the said area and after 28 days and even after a negative PCR test they are allowed to enter the country.
SLAITO seeks approval for this proposal from the relevant authorities and wishes to get special support from the Sri Lanka Army, COVID-19 Task Force and the Health Ministry to make it a reality.
Weerasinghe also revealed that several CSR projects have also been lined up such as in beach cleaning, reef cleaning, conservation of the ocean environment etc.
He also highlighted the fact that Sri Lanka may also face the challenge of being able to manage the carrying capacity of tourists in the future. Inefficient management of carrying capacity may lead to other problems like social, environmental, cultural related issues which will have a negative impact on sustainable tourism development.
Hence, SLAITO has also arranged sessions with naturalists like Prof. Sarath Kotagama in dealing with situations like the one above and also to train tourism staff to serve tourists in the new normal, without losing our cultural and environmental values.