Lessons from the Wonder of Asia

Eight things that have worked for tourism in Sri Lanka & what Bangladesh can learn from it

By Abreshmee Adeeba Haque

Tourism can be a major driving force in socioeconomic development and growth of a nation and Sri Lanka is a glowing example of that. A parallel analysis reveals that Bangladesh still has some major steps to take if it wishes to establish itself as a tourism capital like Sri Lanka has done.

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1. Development of flagship projects
The government of Sri Lanka has conducted massive research and handpicked select sites to feature in their brand building campaigns to help capture mind share of target audiences better. Mass communications focus on these flagship projects, whereas below-the-line communications exist for other tourist spots helping reduction in clutter.

2. Strategic utilization of state owned resources
A lot of government land has been streamlined and utilized for tourism purposes in Sri Lanka and a number of large scale infrastructural projects such as highways and bridge construction have been completed with the aid of public private partnership ensuring minimal cost and faster development.

3. Focus on education
A high literacy rate in the country allows it to be more tourist friendly since locals can be more co-operative to visitors due to reduced language barrier and higher knowledge reserves.

4. Community inclusive growth initiatives
In less developed areas, locals are generally mistrusting towards mainstream government activities and to tackle that, the Sri Lankan authorities have taken steps to reassure the local people through effective communication highlighting gains from tourism for them.

5. Creation of better shopping opportunities
Taxes on branded products have been removed so that tourists enjoy the experience better and associate Sri Lanka with a shopping destination.

6. Improvement in investment climate
The regulatory environment has been unified to work in favour of tourism and there has been elimination of various tax regimes introduced by provincial councils. Investment approval process has also been simplified by setting up of a “one stop shop” for tourism related investments.

7. Nation branding efforts for tourism
In depth branding efforts have been adopted by Sri Lanka which involve promoting the entire nation and its people as hospitable and beautiful. Starting from illustrations of people from various walks of life in a modest welcome at the airport to free SIM cards for tourists to help share their amazing experiences on social media platforms and forums, Sri Lanka has ensured that it wins hearts.

8. Reduction in operational costs for the tourism industry
Reduced electricity costs and corporate taxes in the tourism sector have helped further investments and lowered vacation expenditure for a Sri Lanka visit, helping boost both capacity and demand.

All in all, the holistic plan that involves everything from marketing management to structural and operational changes is one that has resulted in phenomenal success. Bangladesh can surely learn from them and with some modification adapt some of the methods to its own tourism industry which is full of potential to be realized.


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