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Proposed Sri Lanka Tourism policy should promote inclusiveness



By Dr. Manoj Samarathunga

The Ministry of Tourism is in the process of introducing a policy to Sri Lanka tourism for the first time in its official history of 56 years. During the last five decades, Sri Lanka tourism has witnessed many ups and downs despite few tourism plans implemented. This year the theme of United Nations World Tourism Organization’s tourism day is ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth.’ Therefore, I believe the proposed tourism policy should act as a catalyst to promote inclusive tourism growth. Hence, this article critically evaluates empirical glitches in the tourism industry and forwards policy inputs to the proposed national tourism policy.

The United Nations Development Programme (2013) defined inclusive growth as the “economic growth that is distributed fairly across society and creates opportunities for all” (UNDP, 2013). However, it is questionable whether the benefits of tourism are equally distributed even hypothetically. Tourism is a social phenomenon, and mainly depends on public resources. Therefore, it is essential to practice fair and equal distribution of tourism benefits across all stakeholders.

Sri Lanka tourism industry is serviced by thousands of micro, small and medium scale service providers. One of the serious claims made by these stakeholders is that their voice is not represented at the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). As a result, they are discriminated in many ways, including with regard to a fair wage, grants, training and development, marketing and insurance.

The Board of Management of the SLTDA consists of both public and private sector representatives. However, the private sector representatives are specifically mentioned in the Tourism Act. They include: Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL), and Hotel School Graduates Association.

There is no doubt that the captioned members render an excellent service towards the upliftment of the tourism and hospitality industry. However, reserving a few seats in the Board of Management for the micro, small and medium stakeholders can further promote ‘inclusive tourism’ at the national level. The Tourism Ministry may consider the proposals forwarded by many other associations including Tourism and Hospitality Academics’ Association of Sri Lanka, Sustainable Tourism Forum, National Tourists Guide Lecturers’ Association, Chauffeur Tourist Guide Lecturers’ Association, Small Travel Agents’ Association, National Safari Jeep Association and Sri Lanka Eco-tourism Foundation.

On behalf on the aforementioned associations and other tourism associations, following policy inputs are suggested to the proposed Sri Lanka Tourism Policy:

Dr. Mahesh Priyadarshana is the founder of ‘Sustainable Tourism Forum’ of Sri Lanka and the immediate past president of Sri Lanka Institute of National Tourist Guide Lecturers (SLINTGL). According to him, the Tourism Ministry has to pay more attention to the growing concerns of tourism industry stakeholders, especially micro, small and medium sector, as they are the frontline staff who make face-to-face encounters with foreign tourists. Contented tourism stakeholders are vital as they significantly contribute to the tourism value chain in Sri Lanka.

It is also proposed:

1. to introduce an ‘Emergency Relief Fund’ for tourism SME sector to financially support the industry during an emergency;

2. to appoint an ombudsman on behalf of the tourism service providers;

3. to introduce a pension scheme for the operational level service providers;

4. to introduce an insurance scheme for tourism service providers;

5. to amend the Sri Lanka Tourism Act and at least reserve two Directorships, and at least two tourism advisory committee memberships to the micro, small and medium scale tourism and hospitality entrepreneurs;

6. to consider the possibility of introducing a special ‘employee provident fund’ for service providers based on a tripartite contribution: self, employer, government;

7. to promote fair trade policies;

8. to plan and launch effective tourism promotional campaigns with the participation of a wide stakeholder group;

9. to introduce a common entrance ticket policy that encourages tourists to stay at a destination for a longer period;

10. to encourage regional tourism stakeholders to participate in tourism fairs.

By considering above suggestions, the proposed ‘Sri Lanka Tourism Policy’ will be able to promote ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’ respecting the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

(The writer is a Senior Lecturer at the Rajarata University, Faculty of Management Studies. He could be contacted at

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Encouraging signs, indeed!



Derek and Manilal

Local entertainers can now breathe a sigh of relief…as the showbiz scene is showing signs of improving

Yes, it’s good to see Manilal Perera, the legendary singer, and Derek Wikramanayake, teaming up, as a duo, to oblige music lovers…during this pandemic era.

They will be seen in action, every Friday, at the Irish Pub, and on Sundays at the Cinnamon Grand Lobby.

The Irish Pub scene will be from 7.00 pm onwards, while at the Cinnamon Grand Lobby, action will also be from 7.00 pm onwards.

On November 1st, they are scheduled to do the roof top (25th floor) of the Movenpik hotel, in Colpetty, and, thereafter, at the same venue, every Saturday evening.

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Constructive dialogue beyond international community



by Jehan Perera

Even as the country appears to be getting embroiled in more and more conflict, internally, where dialogue has broken down or not taken place at all, there has been the appearance of success, internationally. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be leading a delegation this week to Scotland to attend the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). Both the President, at the UN General Assembly in New York, and Foreign Minister Prof G L Peiris, at the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva seem to have made positive impacts on their audiences and, especially amongst the diplomatic community, with speeches that gave importance to national reconciliation, based on dialogue and international norms.

In a recent interview to the media Prof Peiris affirmed the value of dialogue in rebuilding international relations that have soured. He said, “The core message is that we believe in engagement at all times. There may be areas of disagreement from time to time. That is natural in bilateral relations, but our effort should always be to ascertain the areas of consensus and agreement. There are always areas where we could collaborate to the mutual advantage of both countries. And even if there are reservations with regard to particular methods, there are still abundant opportunities that are available for the enhancement of trade relations for investment opportunities, tourism, all of this. And I think this is succeeding because we are establishing a rapport and there is reciprocity. Countries are reaching out to us.”

Prof Peiris also said that upon his return from London, the President would engage in talks locally with opposition parties, the TNA and NGOs. He spoke positively about this dialogue, saying “The NGOs can certainly make a contribution. We like to benefit from their ideas. We will speak to opposition political parties. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is going to meet the Tamil National Alliance on his return from COP26, which we will attend at the invitation of the British Prime Minister. So be it the NGO community or the foreign diaspora or the parliamentary opposition in Sri Lanka. We want to engage with all of them and that is very much the way forward”


The concept of a whole-of-government approach is indicative of a more cohesive approach to governance by government ministries, the public administration and state apparatus in general to deal with problems. It suggests that the government should not be acting in one way with the international community and another way with the national community when it seeks to resolve problems. It is consistency that builds trust and the international community will trust the government to the extent that the national community trusts it. Dialogue may slow down decision making at a time when the country is facing major problems and is in a hurry to overcome them. However, the failure to engage in dialogue can cause further delays due to misunderstanding and a refusal to cooperate by those who are being sidelined.

There are signs of fragmentation within the government as a result of failure to dialogue within it. A senior minister, Susil Premajayantha, has been openly critical of the ongoing constitutional reform process. He has compared it to the past process undertaken by the previous government in which there was consultations at multiple levels. There is a need to change the present constitutional framework which is overly centralised and unsuitable to a multi ethnic, multi religious and plural society. More than four decades have passed since the present constitution was enacted. But the two major attempts that were made in the period 1997-2000 and again in 2016-2019 failed.

President Rajapaksa, who has confidence in his ability to stick to his goals despite all obstacles, has announced that a new constitution will be in place next year. The President is well situated to obtain success in his endeavours but he needs to be take the rest of his government along with him. Apart from being determined to achieve his goals, the President has won the trust of most people, and continues to have it, though it is getting eroded by the multiple problems that are facing the country and not seeing a resolution. The teachers’ strike, which is affecting hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren, is now in its fourth month, with no sign of resolution. The crisis over the halting of the import of chemical fertiliser is undermining the position of farmers and consumers at the present time.


An immediate cause for the complaints against the government is the lack of dialogue and consultation on all the burning issues that confront the country. This problem is accentuated by the appointment of persons with military experience to decision-making positions. The ethos of the military is to take decisions fast and to issue orders which have to be carried out by subordinates. The President’s early assertion that his spoken words should be taken as written circulars reflects this ethos. However, democratic governance is about getting the views of the people who are not subordinates but equals. When Minister Premajayantha lamented that he did not know about the direction of constitutional change, he was not alone as neither does the general public or academicians which is evidenced by the complete absence of discussion on the subject in the mass media.

The past two attempts at constitutional reform focused on the resolution of the ethnic conflict and assuaging the discontent of the ethnic and religious minorities. The constitutional change of 1997-2000 was for the purpose of providing a political solution that could end the war. The constitutional change of 2016-19 was to ensure that a war should not happen again. Constitutional reform is important to people as they believe that it will impact on how they are governed, their place within society and their equality as citizens. The ethnic and religious minorities will tend to prefer decentralised government as it will give them more power in those parts of the country in which they are predominant. On the other hand, that very fact can cause apprehension in the minds of the ethnic and religious majority that their place in the country will be undermined.

Unless the general public is brought aboard on the issue of constitutional change, it is unlikely they will support it. We all need to know what the main purpose of the proposed constitutional reform is. If the confidence of the different ethnic and religious communities is not obtained, the political support for constitutional change will also not be forthcoming as politicians tend to stand for causes that win them votes. Minister Premajayantha has usefully lit an early warning light when he said that politicians are not like lamp posts to agree to anything that the government puts before them. Even though the government has a 2/3 majority, this cannot be taken for granted. There needs to be buy in for constitutional reform from elected politicians and the general public, both from the majority community and minorities, if President Rajapaksa is to succeed where previous leaders failed.

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JAYASRI twins…in action in Europe



The world over, the music scene has been pretty quiet, and we all know why. This pandemic has created untold hardships for, practically, everyone, and, the disturbing news is that, this kind of scene has been predicted for a good part of 2022, as well,


The band JAYASRI, however, based in Europe, and fronted by the brothers Rohitha and Rohan, say they are fortunate to find work coming their way.

Over the past few months, they have been performing at some of the festivals, held in Europe, during the summer season.

Says Rohitha: “As usual, we did one of the biggest African festivals in Europe, AfrikaTage, and some other summer events, from July up to now. Some were not that big, as they used to be, due to the pandemic, health precautions, etc.”

For the month of October, JAYASRI did some concerts in Italy, with shows in the city of Verona, Napoli, Rome, Padova and Milano.

The twins with the
late Sunil Perera

On November, 12th, the JAYASRI twins, Rohitha and Rohan, will be at EXPO Dubai 2020 and will be performing live in Dubai.

Rohitha also indicated that they have released their new single ‘SARANGANA,’ describing it as a Roots Reggae song, in audio form, to all download platforms, and as a music video to their YouTube channel –

According to Rohitha, this song will be featured in an action drama.

The lyrics for ‘SARANGANA,’ were created by Thushani Bulumulle, music by JAYASRI, and video direction by Chamara Janaraj Pieris.

There will be two audio versions, says Rohitha – a Radio Mix and a DUB Mix by Parvez.

The JAYASRI twins Rohitha and Rohan

After their Italian tour, Rohitha and Rohan are planning to come to Sri Lanka, to oblige their many fans, and they are hoping that the showbiz scene would keep on improving so that music lovers could experience a whole lot of entertainment, during the forthcoming festive season.

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