A 13-member taskforce recommended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been approved and appointed by the Cabinet, to drive Sri Lanka’s 2025 vision for the tourism industry.
The taskforce is chaired by Hari Selvanthan and is joined by Tourism Ministry Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Paddy Withana, Harry Jayawardena, Merril J. Fernando, Dhammika Perera, Udaya Nanayakkara, Abbas Esufally, , Geoffrey Dobbs, Dinesh Weerakkody, Dileep Mudadeniya,Shiromal Cooray and Thilak Weerasinghe.
The Tourism Ministry headed by hon. John Amaratunga will be responsible for monitoring the progress of the recommendations made by the taskforce. The tourism industry also has an Advisory Council appointed under the Tourism Act comprising of several of the members of the new taskforce as well
Sources said the council plays a more advisory role whereas the taskforce will be more aggressive in terms of policy and strategy with several critical subcommittees to drive national plans.
A growing industry of Sri Lanka, Tourism contributes approximately to 5% of Sri Lanka's $ 81 billion GDP while Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka crossed the two million milestone for the first time in history, reaching 2,050,832 arrivals. This is a significant annual growth of 14% recorded in the year 2016. It was also noted that earnings from Tourism last year closed on a high note of $ 3.4 billion against $ 2.98 billion in 2015.
With the positive trends witnessed across, the industry is now envisioning four million tourist arrivals by 2020, with earnings of $ 5 billion.
Though Sri Lanka is targeting four million tourists by 2020 a revision from the initial 4.5 million estimate, in order to attract more quality and high-spending visitors), recently the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) said its forecast for Sri Lanka in 2020 is 3.7 million with an annual average growth of 10.4% from 2017 onwards.
Sri Lanka however has its sights set on a higher growth, and forecasts a growth of 6% in 2017 for Asia Pacific which will continue at 5% per annum to 2021. Amongst the fastest growing destination sub-regions in 2016-2021 according to PATA, South Asia reports an average growth of 7.5% per annum while South-east Asia’s is 6.6%