Sri Lanka Tourism supported by EU to develop wellness tourism – The Island
Authentic Ayurvedic Medicine
Supporting the rapid revival of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka, the European Union (EU) Delegation to Sri Lanka has allocated funds to help build local wellness tourism capacity for Sri Lanka to transform into an attractive destination for wellness tourism. This will be done under the guidance of Sri Lanka Tourism. The resulting “Sri Lanka Wellness Tourism Stakeholder Project” will be officially launched on February 15, 2022.
The launch will involve key project stakeholders where details of the project will be shared, followed by a panel discussion on wellness tourism capacity development. A follow-up meeting will be held on February 25 to share findings and recommendations from all stakeholder meetings, site meetings and discussions with wellness tourism resorts, hotels and training providers. A presentation of findings determined by surveys of wellness tourism organizations and training providers will also be presented this month.
The EU Delegation engaged IBF International Consulting to undertake a technical assistance assignment to develop short term course programs for Ayurvedic therapists and management of wellness facilities in Sri Lanka to provide a authentic experience to tourists in order to develop the wellness tourism component for the country.
Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism, Kimarli Fernando, said: “Wellbeing and nature are currently high on the list of priorities for travelers and Sri Lanka has a lot to offer on both counts. Considering the lush greenery, nature, Ayurveda, yoga, spirituality and culture in Sri Lanka, it is one of the best wellness destinations in the world and we are grateful to the EU Delegation to Sri Lanka for recognizing and investing in capacity building for the country to promote this niche tourism. This partnership will help strengthen Sri Lanka’s wellness tourism product.
The project will also consist of a ‘training of trainers’ and a supervised pilot deployment course. Paul Penfold (Project Team Leader) will be in Sri Lanka for a 2 week mission to meet stakeholders and assess needs with Dr Attanayake (National Expert) from 14-26 February.
Paul Penfold, MEd, is an experienced development consultant specializing in tourism strategy, HRD, educational technology, program development, program design and quality management. He has lived and worked in Asia (including Sri Lanka) for over 25 years and has also taught hospitality/tourism at universities in Hong Kong, Myanmar, China and Vietnam.
Dr. Pushpika Attanayake is an Ayurvedic consultant, researcher and wellness expert with over 15 years of experience in Sri Lanka and abroad. Her areas of expertise extend to yoga, naturopathy and counselling. She is a visiting lecturer in Ayurveda and Wellness Tourism at the University of Colombo, and has worked as an Ayurvedic consultant/spa manager for major hotels including Fortress Resort and Spa and Anantara Kalutara Resort in Sri Lanka, as well as Royal Ayurveda. , in Dubai Healthcare City. She also worked at the Sri Lanka Ayurvedic Drug Corporation.
With the wellness traveler generating at least five times more income than the standard tourist, Sri Lanka Tourism works strategically with key stakeholders to position the destination to meet the demands of this high-yield segment. With the help of external experts, the authorities focus on product and infrastructure development, training and orientation of the SME sector and industry at large, targeted marketing and promotion of opportunities of investment.
With its Ayurvedic and yoga traditions, rich heritage and culture, authentic and distinctive cuisine, warm and hospitable people, abundant flora and fauna and a host of water activities, the island is ideally placed to welcome the wellness traveler. Sri Lanka will have to compete with regional wellness destinations such as Kerala and Bali, destinations that have focused on health and treatment-based experiences for many years. The island can, however, elevate its offer above health towards holistic wellness enabling product differentiation to attract different segments of travelers into the wellness tourism sphere.