Regional collaboration can help South Asian nations rebuild and strengthen tourism industry – World Bank Group

By on July 24, 2020

Sri Lanka, which depends on tourism for about 11 percent of GDP, has delayed its plan to reopen tourism in August. The Sri Lanka tourist ministry in June issued detailed health procedures for hotels, restaurants, taxis, and other businesses. At that time, the government plan called for requiring travelers to be tested for coronavirus before boarding their flight, another test immediately after landing in Sri Lanka, and a third test a few days later.

Regional collaboration could help tourism throughout South Asia rebuild itself as a stronger, innovative industry. 

For example, sharing statistics and data such as visitor arrival trends, spending, and travel patterns can identify which tourists generate the most income and benefits for a destination. That information can help avoid the temptation to offer large scale discounts to woo travelers and instead focus on new, high quality services and unique experiences that deliver value for money.

South Asia could follow the ambitious lead of other regions where countries have banded together to promote tourism.  In Africa, neighboring countries Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda in 2014 began offering an East Africa Tourist Visa that allows travelers to freely move among all three countries during a vacation. The visa costs US$100 and is good for 90 days.

Another example is closer to home. The Greater Mekong Subregion — Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, and a portion of China — is setting common standards for tourist services, facilitating air service agreements in the region, and improving roads, railways, and other infrastructure. The subregion’s marketing strategy promotes themed tour itineraries in more than one country.

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