A Novel Boost for Tourism Industry

12 Feb 2007

Colombo, 12  February, 2007 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has committed a sum of US $ 275,000 to develop sustainable livelihood opportunities through increased tourism in Sri Lanka. Twenty five coastal zones, affected by the 2004 tsunami have been designated for the 'Greenbelt Redevelopment of Tourism Infrastructure Project'.

This UNDP funded project is a collaborative effort involving the UN World Tourism Organization, the Ministry of Tourism and the Sri Lanka Tourist Board. It aims to develop infrastructure facilities in the tsunami hit coastal zones where more than 72,000 beneficiaries depend on the direct and indirect incomes generated through tourism.

“This project tries to address the issue of how people would benefit from tourism in these areas,” said S.Kaleiselvam, Director General of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board at the launching ceremony this morning.

The project’s focus is to protect the interests of the local communities, strengthen their involvement in all tourism related activities as owners, operators and employees.
“The Greenbelt Redevelopment Project will increase local community participation and provide better livelihood opportunities. This will not only sustain the tourism industry but will make tourism zones vibrant economic centers,” said Fredrick Abeyratne, Senior Programme Analyst at UNDP.

An initial implementation plan for short to medium-term human resources development at the local level will be designed to raise the capacity and quality of the existing manpower in the tourism industry.

The project aims to provide immediate plans for the tsunami affected tourism industry and develop guidelines for rebuilding the coastal tourism infrastructure to meet the future demands of Sri Lanka's tourist industry.

UNDP's assistance to the tourism industry spans almost two decades.  In 1990, UNDP helped upgrade the Hotel and Tourism School and assisted in the establishment of four training Centers. The Tourism Master Plan developed In 1991 with UNDP funding is still in use.

Sri Lanka’s thriving tourism industry suffered a major setback in December 2004 when the tsunami disaster damaged more than 70% of the coastal hotels and resorts.

Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism Mr. George Michael, UNDP’s Senior Programme Analyst Dr.Fred Abeyratne, Mr. Hans Carl Jacobsen and Dr.H.Verma of the UNWTO made presentations at the inauguration.