A disaster recovery plan and proposals to record tourist data are among the initiatives being driven forward by the newly formed private sector Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance.
The alliance of tour operators and hotels – which has a corresponding lovesrilanka.org website – was set up by Resplendent Ceylon managing director Malik Fernando in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings, which killed more than 250 people in Colombo and Negombo.
Fernando told the 200 assembled guests at last week’s Specialists Support Sri Lanka event in London he had become “utterly frustrated” with the Sri Lankan government in terms of “pushing a clear-cut communication out”.
“The private sector is better able to respond immediately,” he said.
Fernando announced the alliance would release a disaster recovery plan at the end of August with the help of a US expert, who advised on plans for Tunisia and Egypt.
“We want to ensure we are better prepared for any future event, whether man-made or a natural disaster,” he told TTG.
In addition to this, the alliance is looking to spearhead a “tourism observatory” that will use advanced technology to generate data on an ongoing basis.
“We just don’t have accurate data on tourism in Sri Lanka,” Fernando added.
“Revenues are estimated and arrivals data doesn’t show purpose of visit. We don’t have a national or regional room rate or accurate occupancy data.”
A third pledge of the alliance is to lead the annual marketing plan for Sri Lanka in the next few months “because there currently isn’t one”.
“We will work with the tourist board... and the alliance will collate its members’ data to develop an annual plan based on strong analytics and market knowledge.”
The tourist board’s managing director Charmarie Maelge told the room the country had launched its “largest-ever” marketing campaign to rebuild and revive tourism following the attacks.
She highlighted the country had cut airline landing costs, fuel charges and embarkation levies, and launched “special packages”.
• Authorities tell us all elements and entities involved [in the bombings] have been apprehended and there are no further related perpetrators.
• We are working with intelligence authorities in other countries, and security in tourism spaces [in Sri Lanka] has been reinforced.
• Many conferences and events will go on as planned.
• The government has provided concessions to hoteliers for the equipment needed for surveillance and security.