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Despite the increase in the trend of tourist arrivals in the recent times, experts of the global leisure industry say that Sri Lanka needed to take a serious look at making policy changes to incorporate new concepts such as the shared economy in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.

Advisor on Shared Economy to the World Economic Forum, April Rinne stated that with changing trends in terms of technology and innovative ventures, Sri Lanka needed to adapt according to the changes that was happening worldwide.

During her presentation at the recently held Future of Tourism Summit in Colombo, Rinne stated that most part of the world was going through a sea change in terms of business models for tourism. She pointed out that new ventures and mobile based applications had changed the way tour operators looked at the industry.

She said that having a shared economic concept would help boost Sri Lanka’s tourism sector since it would reduce several practical issues faced in terms of logistics and accommodation.

She stated that 80% of vehicles on the roads worldwide had just one passenger, which, in turn, had resulted in wastage of time, energy and space. In addition, she also pointed out that a car remains parked or stationary for over 20 hours on average per day.

She said that several innovative concepts such as applications that allows passengers who do not have a ride to a destination to get connected to a vehicle traveling in the same direction, could be used to a great extent for tourists to reach their destinations without much hassle.

In addition she also pointed out that 99 percent of tour guides around the world had zero online presence.

Partner, Swiss Hospitality Solutions, Wilhelm Weber speaking at the summit said the industry needed an educated and motivated next generation.

He pointed out that the country’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) needed to be strengthened to ensure that the money earned through tourism stays within the country.

Accordingly, over 60 percent of the rooms available in the country are either three-star or less. Wilhelm stated that the SME sector, which has a larger presence needed to be a focus since it was the backbone of the economy.

Speaking further, he pointed out that having expats handling key areas of the sector would not reflect the true identity of Sri Lanka. “We should have more local people for the tourist to interact with. The international players do not know about the country and its culture,” he said.

“They (international players) look at how they could earn the money. But the country needs a strong SME sector and a vibrant younger generation,” he said.