Wednesday, October 4, 2023

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UNDP, EU join hands to support Sri Lanka’s tourism revival

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Sri Lanka have come together to support the Government and people of Sri Lanka to build back tourism as a resilient and sustainable sector.

This will be done through the ‘Transforming Tourism in Sri Lanka: Emerging from crisis as a strong, resurgent and rebranded industry’ project. 

The Tourism sector being a vital foreign exchange earner and source of employment in Sri Lanka’s economy has suffered multiple crises since the 2019 Easter attack and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic recognising the need to revitalise tourism.

A key expected outcome of this initiative is to strengthen the tourism policy framework and institutional capacity at the national level, providing vital policy direction to rebuild, recover and trigger transformational change for more sustainable and inclusive tourism in the island. 

The draft Tourism Policy aims to create a unique tourism experience for travelers to Sri Lanka and create sustainable and inclusive benefits for all actors in the tourism industry. 

This in turn will aid in protecting Sri Lanka’s best features; its natural resources, culture and history while benefiting local communities, taking us a step closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals — leaving no one behind.

To this end, the Ministry of Tourism, in line with the recently published draft National Tourism Policy and public call for comments to the draft, held a meeting yesterday to discuss the engagement of the EU and UNDP in supporting tourism, particularly, in the implementation of the National Tourism Policy. 

This was revealed at a meeting  chaired by Ministry of Tourism Secretary S. Hettiarachchi, with the participation of the European Union Delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Head of Cooperation Jenny Correia Nunes, and UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka Robert Juhkam. 

The Ministry of Tourism looks forward to cross-collaborating and working closely with all other relevant ministries, in order to create a more resilient tourism industry.”

Reiterating the EU’s support  EU Head of Cooperation Jenny Correia Nunes said: “The EU has been supporting Sri Lanka in a number of sectors including rural development, 

private sector support, justice and social inclusion. In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now also focusing on tourism as we see the great potential and value addition it brings in terms of holistic economic and social development for the country and its citizens.”

Highlighting UNDP’s overall support to tourism recovery, Juhkam said: “UNDP helped bring together multiple stakeholders to widen the consultative process, importantly bridging perspectives and ensuring inclusiveness of Sri Lanka’s sustainable tourism revival. 

Creating this platform for key associations, communities, and private sector and government entities at the national and sub-national level to provide their recommendations has significantly strengthened the draft National Tourism Policy. 

UNDP looks forward to assisting the Ministry to continue this consultative platform to promote the implementation of the policy’s social, economic and environmental sustainability objectives in years to come.”

The collaboration between the EU and UNDP signifies the critical importance of tourism to Sri Lanka’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery. The Transforming Tourism project will aim to address the urgent needs of the industry, strengthening the institutional framework and capacity to set it on a trajectory for a greener, more resilient future. 

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