Taking the Lead: SLTDA’s Vision for Sustainable Tourism

Afua Owusu
April 30, 2024

This article is written by Devrin Weiss, Senior Communications Specialist, IDG’s USAID IPOP Project

Since September 2023, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) and the USAID Indo-Pacific Opportunity Project (IPOP) have collaborated to organize a series of events aimed at providing learning and networking opportunities to Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) operating within the tourism industry. Known as the Sustainable Niche Tourism Learning Expos (SNTL Expos), these events were designed to provide MSMEs with learning opportunities in digital marketing, product development, niche positioning, travel trends, meeting traveler expectations, and sustainability basics.

The SNTL Expos have catalyzed learning and growth, empowering MSMEs with practical knowledge and tools to navigate a rapidly evolving market. Expo learning sessions have focused on providing practical training, making it easy for businesses to integrate sustainability into their daily operations. The emphasis has been on implementing small, impactful measures that benefit the environment, local communities, and their financial sustainability, even without the resources for costly international certifications.

The Expos also embraced inclusivity and innovation, building upon 12 new niche tourism categories, officially launched in June 2023. Niche tourism allows destinations to provide more inclusive opportunities for women, minority communities, and other disadvantaged groups by creating unique opportunities for them to participate in the tourism industry. This forward-thinking approach will allow Sri Lanka to establish its brand identity better, increase its appeal and market share, create jobs and opportunities across the tourism sector, and generate much-needed foreign exchange.

Small business expos were held alongside the SNTL Expos to facilitate interactions among other small businesses providing sustainable products and services (useful for small tourism businesses), financial service providers, and others operating along the tourism value chain.

“I participated as a vendor at the SNTL Expo in Galle. There, I got much more exposure to people in the tourism industry. I also had the opportunity to participate in the knowledge-sharing sessions, which were superb and brilliant. In addition to the valuable knowledge I received, I got around 38 immediate leads, a significant portion of which reached out to me even after the event. The event really motivated us vendors to consider the impact of our business processes and find ways to become more sustainable, especially in areas like packaging.  The opportunity to hear from and network with experts in these fields was truly valuable,” said Mr. Suresh Daluwatte of Ceylon Lavish.

The SNTL Expos began in September 2023, with the first event held in Colombo, followed by subsequent events in Galle, Kandy, Pasikuda, and Nuwara Eliya. These gatherings have underscored the pivotal role of SLTDA in this process and the need for collaborative efforts among all relevant government agencies. This importance on unity and shared purpose has been a recurring theme, fostering a sense of collective responsibility for the sustainable growth of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.


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