Sri Lanka’s tourism sector has been subject to a series of challenges since 2019, followed by the protracted impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, the economic crisis. The impacts of these crises have brought to light a host of challenges that continue to compound the hardships of the most vulnerable populations that engage in the tourism industry.
Placing people first, the Ministry of Tourism and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka with financial assistance from the European Union (EU) in Sri Lanka has been supporting the tourism sector through the ‘Transforming Tourism in Sri Lanka: Emerging from crisis as a strong, resurgent and rebranded industry’ project which has been ongoing for the past year. The project’s central focus is on building a transformed, competitive, and resilient tourism sector, with requisite policies and institutional capacities to deliver unique and sustainable tourism experiences.
With global and local calls for mainstreaming sustainability principles within all the facets of the tourism sector, SLTDA, with the support of UNDP in Sri Lanka’s BIOFIN programme, established a Sustainability Unit, marking a step forward toward green development within the tourism sector. This morning, with the participation of Ms. Malin Herwig, Office in Charge, UNDP in Sri Lanka and Mr. Edoardo Spacca, Deputy Head of Cooperation, the EU Delegation to Sri Lanka, equipment was handed over to Mr. Priantha Fernando, Chairman, SLTDA for the Sustainability Unit, and to Ms. Anuri Tilakaratne, Provincial Director – Department of Trade, Commerce and Tourism – Central Province, along with Mr. Kumar Joseph De Silva, Chief Technical Advisor – Tourism, UNDP in Sri Lanka to further support their activities. Two Carrying Capacity Studies and the Value Chain Studies conducted for Sigiriya and Knuckles-Riverston were also presented at the meeting to Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Tourism and Lands. Notable attendees included Mr. W.A. Chulananda Perera, Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism and Lands, Mr. Upali Rathnayake, Director – Domestic Tourism & Community Relations, SLTDA, and senior officials of the Ministry.