In an emphatic presentation on Sri Lanka SL, Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando outlined that the country is ready for post-COVID growth, noting that all efforts are being made to ensure visitors a safe, secure, hassle-free and enjoyable visit to the paradise island.
“Sri Lanka is back and we are open for tourists. Our country has everything a post-COVID traveller is looking for. We have created a relaxed, bubble-free travelling for fully vaccinated travellers. Sri Lanka is ready to welcome you with the warmth of our hospitality,” she told international media covering the Expo 2020 in Dubai and Sri Lanka National Day on Monday.
Fernando said 2021-2030 had been declared as a ‘growth decade’ where Sri Lanka would be focused on building sustainable partnerships and working together to grow.
“Tourism is a strategic priority industry in our growth plan. The Government has recognised tourism as an export industry and has given the assurance and support for growth by extending various concessions, fund allocations, and relaxing of approval processes,” she added.
The Tourism Chief also noted that Sri Lanka was recognised internationally as a preferred destination by Conde Nast Traveller, Bloomberg, Travel + Leisure, Lonely Planet and received media coverage on channels such as BBC, CNN and Al-Jazeera.
“Sri Lanka is also a destination with high potential. We believe in building sustainable partnerships and working together to make things happen as now is the time to walk the talk,” she stressed.
Pointing out that Sri Lanka never went for mass-scale tourism and built the industry on unique experiences, Fernando emphasised they were keen on branding and repositioning the destination.
“We aim to re-position Sri Lanka as a ‘bucket list’ destination offering extraordinary experiences. Post-pandemic travellers will look for more nature, wellness, experiences, sustainability and tranquillity-based offerings to be centred, to find balance and peace in one’s mind. Our main focus, going forward, will be on experiences in marketing to millennials and post-COVID travellers. This is a unique niche Sri Lanka will approach re-defining and offering a nature’s way to luxury,” Fernando explained.
Experience-based, sustainable, water-based, wellness, film, retail, nature-based, MICE, wedding and millennial tourism are 10 focus areas that Sri Lanka Tourism will concentrate on post-pandemic revival and strong growth.
Fernando also said excellent air connectivity, infrastructure developments, international partnerships and key tourism projects in the pipeline such as the ‘Visit Sri Lanka’ app, simplification of tourism investment process, five-year research road map and short-term tactical marketing campaign in the first quarter would attract tourists and investments from 2022 onwards.
Highlighting the fact that 90% of Sri Lanka’s population had taken at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, she said over 85% have taken both doses and that the third booster dose was underway with the tourism industry given priority.
“Sri Lanka has one of the best vaccination drives in the world and best in Asia. We have created relaxed, bubble-free travelling for fully vaccinated travellers. You can either apply for a visa online or on arrival, carry a negative PCR taken 72 hours before and pay for the $ 12 local COVID insurance – it’s that simple. Even if you are not vaccinated, we have the ‘Tourism Bio Bubble’ which will ensure you enjoy the trip within the safety of the bubble. We have laid down very simple, relaxed and clear guidelines for kids,” she added.
Fernando also said post-pandemic travellers were gravitating more towards that ‘big idea’ or ‘bucket list’ trip of unique experiences which augurs well with Sri Lanka.
“This will result in growth in nature-based tourism, camping, trekking, and experience-based sustainable travel. Travellers may do fewer trips per year, however when they do travel, they will possibly invest the time and money in long haul travel and staying in one destination for longer periods of time. Sri Lanka Tourism is aware of the global trends, and we will eagerly wait to welcome global travellers back in our paradise,” she added.