With the objective of identifying the tourism potentials, specific issues, and challenges in development of sustainable communities for future tourism while focusing on SDGs, Northern Province Tourism Bureau successfully conducted a community workshop on Developing a Sustainable Community Based Tourism Strategic Plan for Northern Islands Centralizing Delft using the technique of participatory mapping with 38 participants.
The workshop was organized with the assistance of EFECS Project, A cooperation project funded by Global Affairs Canada and jointly implemented by SANASA International and Development international Desjardins (DID), under the guidance of the Divisional Secretary of Delft Island.
The existing global pandemic has put millions of people’s employments into a great difficulty. Tourism is one of the sectors affected mostly from the pandemic. Now the global vaccination programme has started up and the risk is getting lower compared with the previous year with the community awareness. When the tourists previously preferred “Beautiful Destinations” to Visit but today, tourists are dreaming about the “Safest Destination” to spend their holiday with peace of mind. Island Destinations are becoming comparatively popular in this case as the Travelers could stay safer and enjoy the nature, culture, and beach.
Northern Province of Sri Lanka will have lots of fortunes in future tourism as it has been gifted with
37 Islands including 7 Islands in Mannar, 7 islands in Kilinochchi and 23 Islands in Jaffna.
Among the largest islands such as Kytes, Karaitivu, Pungudutivu, Mandativu, Delft Island is extraordinary with its highlighted strategic location in the Indian Ocean as well as the gifted eco system and unrevealed heritage and culture. Looking at the future opportunities of tourism, Northern Province Tourism Bureau planned to develop a sustainable community-based tourism development plan to draw the road map for tourism stakeholders as well as creating an attractive tourist route covering these amazing island network of northern province would uplift the industry into new heights in the post pandemic rejuvenation.
“Even though Delft has more potentials to become an attractive tourism hotspot, it is still struggling to drop into the path of tourism. Thus, a tourism strategic plan is very much needed” mentioned Divisional Secretary, Delft Island in his welcome speech.
The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Stanley Mascarenhas highlighting the importance of a sustainable community-based plan for the island network in northern province. He expressed his gratitude for the EFECS Project which is a Canadian government funded project for providing the required financial facilitation.
The workshop was focusing on two key requirements as to identify the key tourist attractions and activities within the Island as well as to identify the possible ones that can be further developed for tourism and to understand the Challenges and Opportunities in development of the Island. Participatory Mapping is a globally accepted method of initiating a good strategic plan because the sustainability is always dependent on the cooperation.
The participants represented various clusters in the tourism value chain such as SMEs based on various attractions such as Fishing, Farming or Toddy Tapping, Transportation providers like jeeps, busses, passenger ferries, accommodations like hotels, guest houses, homestays, Handicraft making, tailoring, Ayurvedic treatments, cultural dancing. Not only that there were surfers, swimmers, horse riders like activity-based professionals as well as tour guides are participated the programme.
“As recently announced by UNWTO and other industry experts, future tourism will be shifted from the traditional tourism themes to various other avenues. Since the personalized travel will be prioritized, travel modes will be focusing on charted flights, yachting, cruise lines. Similarly, the travel destinations will be mostly for the islands and personalized bungalows…etc. Identifying the future trends of tourism, Northern Province is receiving inquiries from lots of investors looking at island-based accommodations, transport services and other development projects based on tourism.” said Mr. Mascarenhas, Chairman of Northern Province Tourism Bureau addressing the first community workshop organized in the delft island.
All tourism value chain members together participated the mapping exercise actively to develop the best suitable community approach for future tourism at this workshop. The concept presentation was conducted by professional town planners namely Ms. Veneka Logenthiran and Ms. Lashika Sabesan who are graduated from the Department of Town and Country Planning in the University of Moratuwa.
The 6A’s approach of the value chain model was explained to the Micro, Small and Medium scale entrepreneurs (MSME’s) of Delft Island. The participants represented each category (attractions, accessibility, amenities, accommodation, activities and awareness).
“All sectors of the tourism value chain are equally important to drive a community-based project” stated Ms. Logenthiran explaining the key clusters of tourism clusters.
Ms. Sabesan explaining the 8 themes of Sri Lanka Tourism Attractions namely wildlife, heritage, culture, bliss, adventure, festivals and pristine and scenic.
A comprehensive plan with a tourist map is expected to be completed in the Month of September with the participation of all stakeholders connected to the Island Network under the supervision of Chairman, Northern Province Tourism Bureau.
Northern Province Tourism Bureau offered a set of district-based maps developed by EFECS Project as a community service to promote the rural set ups in Northern Province.
In the morning session, the participants were requested to point out the existing locations of each category in a map prepared by the town planners to identify the attractions and activities.
Community proposed suitable locations for future activities based on their expertise areas such as accommodation, transport, amenities…etc. Accordingly, few mini harbors, bird watching places, hangout places, boat safari and horse riding were proposed and taken into consideration in developing the sustainable plan.
SMEs participating in the mapping exercise at the workshop under the supervision of town planners.
In the evening session, the participants were requested to present the issues, challenges as well as the potentials for the tourism development related to each SME category. Specific groups were created for the discussion and finally the list of challenges and opportunities were presented by each group to the audience.
Each and every participant was actively participating for both sessions and provided their valuable ideas. Finally, vote of thanks was given by the project coordinator. The support given by the Divisional Secretary of Delft Mr. Sathiyasothi was highly appreciated. The participation of Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer Tourism, EFECS project was highly appreciated with her guidance and support throughout the arrangements and organization of the 1st workshop.