Less talk – more action required

Wild elephants, Wasgamuwa National Park

Ivan Alvis

Yahoo News is read online, the world over, and is quite a popular site for news gathering – judging by the feedback most articles  published on this site, receive.

Whenever I’m on the internet, I make it a point to check out Yahoo News, and I’m doubly sure there are many, like me, who find the news, and comments, quite interesting.

Just recently – or, to be precise, on February 18th – I came across a very interesting article about Sri Lanka, highlighted on Yahoo News.

In bold type, it said: ‘This Sri Lanka holiday takes in elephants, tea plantations and cave temples.’

Credit, for the article, was given to Rebecca Wilson (Country Living, February 18, 2020).

The article certainly made very interesting reading and a bouquet must be given to the writer for spotlighting Sri Lanka as an ideal place for tourists seeking to experience the uniqueness of a country.

This is what she said in her introduction:

“A destination for nature- and wildlife-lovers, Sri Lanka is where you can have a tropical island escape that goes beyond the beaches. It’s a place to witness Mother Nature’s beauty at its very best, while immersing yourself in amazing culture along the way.”

Wonderful, and if I was from another part of the world, and was planning a vacation, I would have given the ‘thumbs up’ to make my next holiday destination – SRI LANKA.

But…on checking out the comments, made by readers, to this particular article, my thoughts  and plans, would have changed – if I was thinking of a family vacation.

And these are the reactions to the article – bouquets and brickbats!

Unfortunately, the Brickbats were kind of scary…

Terpischore –

Save the animals – save the planet!!!!

Bobby –

Travel Advisory

June 24, 2019, Sri Lanka – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.

Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, hospitals, and other public areas.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in remote areas.

Tee –

Beautiful scenes.

Dennis –

Fail to advise as to how dangerous of a country it is!! Terrorist target tourist !! State department warns not to go there. These articles should be required to advise of the dangers when they recommend them!!

S –

Thank you Rebecca, great article with beautiful pictures.

Jean –

A lot more going on in Sri Lanka, than peaceful escapades. Are these articles really advertisements for the travel industry, or do the authors believe in magic?

(O?O) –

Sri Lanka the land where Pandas and Penguins play all day.

Chris –

Love elephants

Mugsy –

Sri Lanka is a corrupt country run by two brothers – one the President and the other the Prime Minister – both who orchestrated bombings of Catholic churches last Easter in order to get them to vote for

Vasanth  –

The negative comments are not true.

The so called two brothers killed off the Terrorists and made it safe.

The previous USA backed govt. is the one who relaxed security that lead to Attacks.

NOW IT’S COMPLETELY SAFE.

Woe unto negative commenters.

Swag –

And no trip is complete without locals hacking you know to death with machetes.

Now, this is where the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) should step in and address  the negative comments.  Because such comments will not help the SLTDA achieve its target of four million tourists, for 2020.

It would do the SLTDA well, if it introduces a unit to monitor popular sites, such as Yahoo News on a daily basis. Staff assigned to the unit should  have the knowledge and ability to counter negative comments and also promote SLTDA’s views on these sites.

Tourists from the Western world, especially, or, for that matter, from any part of the world, wouldn’t want to venture to any destination where people talk about bombs, terrorists, machetes, etc.

It’s imperative that the SLTDA move into action NOW and dispel such unjust rumours;  Action and not just talk is the need of the hour.

I was also amused (but it’s no laughing matter) to see a tourist signboard, erected near the Dunhinda Waterfalls, on the road to Ella, with goofs galore!

The signboard says WARNING…and, perhaps, the warning is all about the spelling mistakes that adorn the board.

You are asked to Avoid BARTHING – and not Bathing.

Organised spelt ORGAERNIZED.

Sponsored spelt SPONSERED.

Let us save the environment, goes as Lets us save the environment.

What is intriguing is that credit, on this particular signboard, is given to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.   This is what the board states:

Orgaernized by

Sri lanka tourism Development Authority ( SLTDA )

Before approval is given to erect such boards, isn’t the wording checked by a competent officer of the SLTDA, for spelling mistakes, grammatical error, etc., since it’s mentioned that this particular board has been organised by the SLTDA?

Or, are we to assume that anything goes…in the ‘Wonder of Asia!’

We are a supposed to be a literate nation but such signboards don’t do justice to those claims, especially if the SLTDA is involved.

I only hope those responsible wouldn’t come up with the wrong notion that such errors would not affect tourism, in general.

We have got to be perfect in everything we do.

Dunhinda, one of Sri Lanka’s many breathtaking water falls (Courtesy TripAdvisor)
Dunhinda, one of Sri Lanka’s many breathtaking water falls (Courtesy TripAdvisor)

Well, are we on the right path to achieving our target of four million tourists for 2020?

I would say we would be lucky if we could reach last year’s tourist arrival of 1.9 million, especially with the Coronavirus scene destroying tourism in most parts of the world.

TripAdvisor does spotlight Sri Lanka in a big way but WE need to do more, from our side, to promote our land, called paradise, to the outside world.

Let’s make Floating Markets a reality; Let’s make Sri Lanka a dream come true for Indian Wedding Planners; Let’s make our Wildlife Parks a top attraction…on the lines of what tourists experience when they visit some of the national parks, in Africa.

Let’s also look at promoting Sri Lanka to high-end holidaymakers.

Backpackers are certainly welcome but our coffers would expand substantially if we could reach out to the high-end tourism market.

And, Thailand is doing just that…

While Thailand is known as a budget-friendly destination (when comparison is drawn with Singapore and Malaysia), offering affordable accommodation and leisure attractions, the tourism authorities, in Thailand, appear keen to attract a new breed of high-end clientele.

In recent years, several local initiatives, and global campaigns, aimed at promoting luxury tourism, have formed a strategic focus for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), helping the agency build on increasing visitor numbers with more spending power.

Let’s hope the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority would take a cue from Thailand and go for a slice of the high spenders, as well, and not just talk of figures, irrespective of budget tourists, backpackers or high-spenders.

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