Premier to decide on future tourism policy direction

 Amaratunga forwards recommendations to PM

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be deciding on the future policy direction of the Sri Lanka’s tourism sector today.

Tourism and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga yesterday forwarded a letter t o t he Prime Minister’s office with a host of recommendations to take the industry forward, Mirror Business learns.

The debate is whether to conduct ad hoc development as in the past or focus on sustainability, and its related issues of focusing on i ncreased arrival numbers or high-spending luxury t ourists or ‘flashpackers’ who travel responsibly and spend excessively on experiences instead of institutional luxury.

Tourism is t he country’s t hird largest foreign exchange earner after remittance i nflows and apparel. Tourism earnings for the first six months of 2015 i ncreased 14.17 percent year-on-year (YoY) to Rs.1.32 billion, while tourism arrival figures increased 14.12 percent YoY t o 830,051 in the same period.

The recommendations for the new heads at the national tourism organisations—namely the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB), Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau (SLCB) and the Sri Lanka Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Management—are included in the letter.

The four chairmen resigned last week to fulfil the Sri Lankan practice of new ministers and governments appointing new bureaucrats for state bodies. Such a practice costs policy stability. However, industry stakeholders have questioned the organisations’ recent performances.

Former SLTDA Chairman Paddy Withana was appointed as the acting Chairman of the SLTDA and SLTPB. Sources said that the recommendations have called for Withana being reappointed as the SLTDA Chairman while industry veteran Prema Cooray has been recommended for the SLCB Chair and a relative of Amaratunga has also been recommended for a top-tier post. Intense political jockeying is taking place for the coveted posts, Mirror Business learns. Whether the Prime Minister approves or rejects the recommendations would be known within the week.

Source : http://epaper.dailymirror.lk/epaper/viewer.aspx

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