Expo for small businesses, tourism operators

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) conducted a Sustainable Niche Tourism Learning Expo in Galle for small business operators in the tourism industry.

“This informative programme helped us enhance our knowledge on a wide range of topics,” a participant who owns a small hotel said. “We are relatively new entrants to the tourism industry, and I realised today that there are many more aspects to sustain our business than merely focusing on filling our hotel rooms.”

The event attracted over 100 small businesses and allied stakeholders and was the second in a series of similar events to be held across the country. The first event was held in Colombo in September. Small tourism businesses learned about digital marketing, travel trends, and how to incorporate sustainability into their daily operations. Participants also had access to mentoring sessions with industry trailblazers and received toolkits focused on product development, marketing, promotions, and sustainability.

The Learning Expo was a direct follow-on of the launch of 12 new niche tourism categories in June this year, to enhance the competitiveness of small businesses and allow Sri Lanka to better establish its brand identity, increase its appeal and market share, and create jobs and opportunities across the tourism sector. A variety of vendors showcased products that businesses can use to enhance their services.

Sri Lanka’s diverse tourism offerings hold immense potential for small businesses to cater to the demands of both international and domestic travelers. To establish a thriving tourism sector, it is vital to empower small business owners to innovate, refine their products, and deliver sustainable guest experiences aligned with traveler expectations.

“I thank USAID and SLTDA for conducting this informative event which was an eye-opener to most of us. We have been used to viewing tourism in a very old fashioned way that we have for generations; today’s event showcased exciting new approaches which will help us to better market our country and attract more tourists”, said Channa Saliya Mendis, Chairman of Southern Province Tourism Bureau.

USAID launched the tourism activity under the Indo Pacific Opportunity Project (IPOP) in July 2022 to support economic reforms and promote foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka.  The two-year project is assisting SLTDA to streamline and implement new policies and procedures to enable attraction of foreign direct investment in the tourism sector.

Source: https://www.sundaytimes.lk/231105/sunday-times-2/expo-for-small-businesses-tourism-operators-537573.html