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Sri Lanka is one of the most sorts for tourist destinations in the world. It is advantageously situated between West Asia and South East Asia has been a significant stop on the silk route. To express the richness, beauty and the intensity of affection: the visitors addressed the country as Serendib, Ceylon, Teardrop of India, Resplendent Isle, Island of Dharma, and Pearl of the Orient.(Lanka Facts, 2012).
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Today, visitors are welcomed to Sri Lanka to experience the nation’s glittering tapestry of culture, and the rich abundance of nature, so handsomely bestowed, and to give credence to the old adage that good things come in small packages. Its landscape orientation especially the Warm Sun kissed Beaches creates mix of opportunities which lead to the final holiday destination. The diversity of temperatures, vegetation and scenery grab a large sense towards Srilanka. It is a most demanding country for lovers of nature and wild life because tourism offers safaris, Treks, Nature walks and Camping that could be a marvelous experience for them. The entire island is swarming with birds and animals. And the animals like elephants and leopards are not scarce. Though foods are not much expensive: they are tasty and the people of the country are very friendly and helpful.This colourful collection act as an indicator of its richness.
All requirements are equipped in the country and it is to be one of the best tourist destinations with absolute peace, political stability and the climatic changes can be seen through beautiful waterfalls, rivers, sceneries, tea estates and many other attractive places. Sri Lanka is owned for a rich heritage and it has a recorded history of more than 2500 years and archaeological sites over 250,000.There are 8 world heritage sites within the country that was approved by the UNESCO and they are the hill capital kandy, the sacred city of Anuradapura, The Dutch fort of Galle, The ancient city of Polonnaruwa, The rock fortress of Sigiriya, The golden rock temple of Dambulla, the beautiful Horton plains and the Singharaja rain forest (Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, 2011). So, without a doubt a land like Sri lanka cannot be found because it has something to offer for everyone.
The increase of tourism occurred in 2011 and is expected to climb further in the coming years. Colombo the capital city, the Cultural Triangle (Dambulla, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura), the cities like Kandy and Galle, and most of the southern beach towns which are equipped with good tourist facilities, the roads connecting many of those destinations are improving. The pro of Sri Lanka as a tourism destination is threefold. Firstly, it is a real tourism destination. Secondly, a tourist can travel the whole compact island within few days because it consists only 65,610 square km.Thirdly, it has unparalleled diversity of tourism product. For the ease of communicating the diversity of Sri Lanka in 2010, 8 different products namely; heritage, beaches, wildlife, mind and body wellness, scenic beauty festivals, Essence and sports and adventure are started to position around the country by the tourism authorities. (Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, 2011). Art and culture, spices, tea, gems, handy crafts and its people are the unique features of Srilanka which are also known as the essence of the country. From the ancient time the travellers and the traders have attracted to Sri Lanka and it is a languorous tropical island of deep spirituality and serenity. Sri Lanka grabbed the Western imagination as the Tahiti of the East.
5.2.1 Institutional structure of tourism industry in Sri Lanka
Tourism industry is under the Ministry of Tourism. Four sections of it are; Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (formed in 2005 by replacing Sri Lanka Tourist Board which was established in 1966), Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sri Lanka Institute of Hotel Management and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau. While Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority is responsible for all the tourism development activities, the responsibility of all the marketing and promotional work goes to the Tourism promotion Bureau.
5. 2.1 History of tourism industry in Sri Lanka
Marco Polo mentioned the Sri Lanka as the finest isle in the whole world as a well-known explorer of the 12th century. For European Travellers it had been a immense tourism destination. (Lanka Facts, 2012). However, the year 1966 was a landmark for international tourism in Sri Lanka, with the enactment of the Ceylon Tourist Board Act No. 10 of 1966. The Act provided permission for the establishment of a public authority known as the Ceylon Tourist Board for encouragement, promotion and development of tourist travel to Sri Lanka (Deheragoda 1980). According to this Act, the Board objectives are numerous: establishment of an institute to control the tourist industry, to encourage people to provide an efficient, attractive and adequate service, the encouraging, promotion and development of the travel trade (Deheragoda 1980; Zoysa 1978). After the establishment of the Ceylon Tourist Board, the Sri Lankan tourist industry has systematically developed drawing much foreign exchange into the country (Handaragama, 2010).
From 1966 onwards, the tourist industry gradually inherited results of many mentioned implemented programs for the development of the industry. In 1977 the tourist industry had full attention and support of the government with the introduction of open economic policies and liberalization of the economy, because it was quite a suitable field for the operationalisation of the open economic policies. The tourist industry is gradually developing and reached a milestone in 1983 with ethnic problem with its manifestations particularly in the forms of conflicts in the North and East and bomb explosions in Colombo, threatening the safety of the tourists (Bandara, 2003).
According to ADB (1998), until the early 1980s 76 percent of tourism accommodation in the country is owned and forced by the Hotel Corporation (a semi-privatized formerly state owned body).During this era (between mid-1960s and early 1980s) as a result of the state investments, the tourism accommodation facilities expanded. However, with the introduction of liberalized economic policies in 1977, significant amounts of national and international investments were made to construct the accommodation of tourism, mainly in Colombo and the Southwest coast which ultimately lead to control the large part of the inbound tourist market by the private sector. (Sri Lanka, Tourist Boar d, 2003).
Growth of the tourism industry got stagnated because of the 30 year long internal conflict and terrorism which caused a negative impact on tourism. With the end of the conflict in 2009, created a lot of opportunities through tourism industry. (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, 2011). Sri Lanka had an expansion of 46% in tourism arrivals in 2010 just after the end of the war. The tourism arrivals got doubled from 2009 to 2011 with the number of arrivals attaining 855,975 as at end 2011(Figure 5.2). In 2012, Sri Lanka was named as the best valued destination for holidays by the post office worldwide holiday costs barometer.
5.2.2 Present situation of Sri Lankan tourism
United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) lists Sri Lanka with a 50 percent growth in tourist arrivals among 77 countries that have reported international arrivals data. So that, the year 2011 has been a significant year for tourism industry as the arrival target was over 750,000. Sri Lanka recorded 856,000 tourist arrivals with a 30 percent annual growth at the end of 2011and also expects 30 percent growth as well in this year because the country has performed well compared to the world tourism industry. The sector envisaged 30 percent growth for 2011 with revenue of US $ 839 million (Ref). The hotel occupancy rate has increased up to 77 percent and it has created employment for about 125,000 persons. Compared to other industries it has the fastest growth prospects. Though Sri Lanka is predominantly a beach destination, it could offer culture, nature, agro, community, religious and spiritual attractions by now.
Thirty year ethnic conflict of the country has been negatively affected for the growth and the development of the tourism industry (Ganegodage and Rambaldi, 2012). Sri Lankan government is now organizing several events and is in the process of developing the industry in order to make Sri Lanka a top tourism destination in the world. The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority will do their best to develop unique, quality and diverse tourism products and services that would globally make Sri Lanka as a unique destination. Identifying and developing tourist specific unique products and services, formulating and implementing Tourism Development Guidelines, facilitating and implementing the legal and administrative process for new product and service development are some activities done by the authority. (Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, 2011).
Main markets of tourism in Sri Lanka
Table 5.2 and Figure 5.4 shows a detailed account of the source of foreign visitors to the top 10 source nations the top ten source markets for tourism to Sri Lanka within the years 2010 and 2011. Sri Lanka relies greatly on Western European markets, especially the United Kingdom and Germany who rotate between second and third place as key source nations. However, India became the largest single source of arrivals in Sri Lanka. During this period, France, Maldives, Australia, Canada USA, the Netherlands and Russia also have become strong source markets. (Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, 2011).
When tourist arrivals are analyzed by regions, in 2010 and 2011, most of the tourists are from Asia and the Western Europe. Next highest number is coming from Middle East followed by Eastern Europe and North America (Figure 5.4). Thus, these are the important markets of tourism of the country.
Main tourist attractions of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has a large number of tourist attractions for different types of visitors. Bentota, Beruwala, Hikkaduwa, Galle, Negombo and Trincomalee are the dominant beaches in Sri Lanka and they are famous for relaxing, sun bathing and surfing. The living heritage of Sri Lanka of 2500 years was discovered by the culture & heritage. It was founded in the 5th century BC, when the Buddhism was first introduced to the island. Anuradhapura can be recognized as the capital city of Buddhism.
The oldest living tree in documented history is the sacred Bo tree, grown from a sapling of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightment.(Lanka Facts, 2012). Sigiriya the 8th Wonder of the World. “Veddha’s” also known as aborigines of Sri Lanka.They are the Sri Lanka’s indigenous people.Wildlife is a vital assert. Animals such as Elephants, Leopards, Black Bears and many more can meet face to face with Jungle wildlife sanctuaries. Nature Witness the unmatched bio-diversity of Sri Lanka is waterfalls, misty hills, breezy mountains and Sinharaja Rain Forest. Sinharaja is a world heritage named by United Nations. The World Tourism Organization describes that Sri Lanka has the advantage of having 49 sites classified as unique attractions, 91 as rare attractions, and 7 world heritage sites, and 6 of the 300 ancient monuments in the world. (Asia-planet.net, 2012).
Purposes of visiting the country by tourists
The main purpose of visiting the country by tourists is to have pleasure. During vacations, most of the tourists come to the country to engage in various entertaining activities such as visiting beaches for swimming surfing, boating, fishing, jungle tracking for rock climbing, hiking, wild life seeing , bird watching, and so on. Therefore, it is very important to provide facilities for these activities at the best level. However, tourist coming for business, visiting friends and relations, religious and cultural activities are comparatively lower (Table 5.2).
5.2.3 Future development of the sector
There are 2 stages of the future tourism development in Sri Lanka. First stage is to be reached in 2016 and the second is in 2020. The main goal of the first stage is to attract 2.5 Million high spending foreign tourists by the year 2016 (Figure 5.5) and the main target of the second stage is to get 4 million tourists to the country (Figure 5.6).
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Tourism targets during 2010-2016
The five year master plan prepared by the Department of National Planning for the period of 2011 – 2016 tackle a range of issues related to Sri Lanka Tourism Strategy including environmental, economic, social, cultural, institutional and promotional aspects together with their mutual relations with the National Development agenda, in order to create a favourable environment to achieve expected tourist proceeds by 2016 (Department of National Planning, 2010).
The key objectives to be achieved by the 5 year strategy are
®Increase tourist arrivals from 650,000 in 2010 to 2.5 Million by 2016.
®Attract USD 3,000 Million with 5 years of time as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the country.
® Tourism related employment increase by125, 000 in 2010 to 500,000 by 2016 and island widely expand tourism based industry and service.
® Integrate tourism to the real economy by distributing the economic benefits of tourism to a larger cross section of the society.
® Increase Foreign exchange earnings from USD 500 Million in 2010 to USD 2.75 Billion by 2016.
®Contribute towards getting better global trade and economic linkages of Sri Lanka.
® Position Sri Lanka as the world’s most precious island for tourism.
(Department of National Planning, 2010)
Tourism targets during 2010-2020
The vision of the government is to change the Sri Lankan tourism sector, by 2020, to be the biggest foreign exchange earner in the economy and to position Sri Lanka as the world’s most treasured and Greenest isle and draw high spending tourists while protecting the cultural values, natural habitats and environment of the country.
Tourism development in the country: provincial level
Provinces are the first level administrative division in Sri Lanka. In 1833, they were firstly established by British rulers of Ceylon. Then in the next century most of the administrative functions were transferred to the second level administrative division which is known as districts. Because of increasing demand for decentralization, in 1987 this change was done. In 1978 Provincial councils were established by the Constitution of Sri Lanka (Mongabay.com, 2012). Presently the nine provinces are named as Central, North Central Eastern, North Western, Northern, Sabaragamuwa, Uva and Western Southern (Figure 5).
Ministry of tourism develop and manage tourism activities in each and every province because of the decentralization of the power. In line with the tourism development of the national government, provincial councils have development tourism master plans and implemented them during 2010-2016. Most of the tourism development programs of these provinces are mainly focused on rural tourism and niche markets such as nature tourism, ecotourism, culture tourism, agritourism in a sustainable way. Main aim of these tourism development programs is community empowerment and rural development.
Motivation of local tourists
Government expects to increase demand from domestic tourists, while planning to make additional foreign income to the country by providing facilities for foreign tourists to make additional foreign income to the country. Country’s total population is 21,283,913 (2011 estimated) and 0.934% is its growth rate is (2011 estimated). 14%from the total population is owned by the urban population (2010) and the annual urbanization changing rate is 1.1% (2010-15 estimated). Furthermore, age structure of the country is 0-14 years: 24.9%, 15-64 years: 67.2% and 65 years and over: 7.9% (2011 estimated) (Sri Lanka Demographics Profile, 2012. A positive background will be created in many ways in future because quantitatively and qualitatively local demand for tourism is rising. By using the print and electronic media government is trying to promote the less attractive places and grab the awareness which will help to fulfil the purpose of establishing a good culture among Sri Lankan travellers. (Department of National Planning, 2012).
When focusing the evolution of tourism industry in the country, there had been a flourishing period in the past. But, due to some bad experiences such as few youth unrest situations and revolutions, 1989-1992 a huge tsunami in 2004 and severe ethnic way during 2008-2009: the performance had gone down in the near past. However, recently, it is booming and the national government and the provincial councils have implemented lots of plans to get the optimum benefits of tourism in future.
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