17th August 2021 at Northern Province Tourism Bureau, Jaffna from 9.30am – 12.00p
With the objective to of validating the draft Vision, Goals & Objectives for the Northern Islands Centralizing Delft and sustainable community-based tourism strategic plan covering the key attractions and activities based on the tourism development clusters (6As), Northern Province Tourism Bureau successfully conducted the validation workshop on Developing a Sustainable Community Based Tourism Strategic Plan for Northern Islands Centralizing Delft with the participation of essential government stakeholders related to the islands on 17th August 2021 at the Conference Hall of Northern Province Tourism Bureau, Jaffna.
Although it was planned to invite the officials related to tourism from all line ministries, due to the recent announcements of the Ministry of Health, Northern Province Tourism Bureau conducted this activity with minimal number of participants. Yet, it was given the opportunity to join the participants from the other districts via zoom.
The “Real North” concept was brought over as a result of recent Tourism Value Chain Development Programme named EFECS which focussed on Value Chain based development of Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs. Project introduced various community-based initiatives to improve the livelihood of people connected with the tourism industry.
Understanding the importance of attracting more local and international tourists in the post pandemic situation, the project developed a fully fledged promotion via online connecting the markets. There were five route maps as well as five community based sustainable tourism plans were developed for all five districts of the province. As the final phase, the project is now ready to release the final geo-based tourism routes for The Real North Islands inviting the tourists to feel the Island Experience as well as the investors to spend their money on various business opportunities.
That is a cooperation project funded by Global Affairs Canada and jointly implemented by SANASA International and Développement international Desjardins (DID), under the guidance of the Chairman of Northern Province Tourism Bureau.
The welcome speech was delivered by Mr. Stanley Mascarenhas, Chairman of Northern Province Tourism Bureau highlighting the importance of a sustainable community-based plan for the island network in northern province.
He expressed his sincere gratitude for the EFECS Project for providing the required financial facilitation as well as for responsible participation for every key initiative taken by Northern Tourism during the past two years.
Further, he admired the participation of the key stakeholders to the meeting physically and online disregarding the pandemic risks. The workshop was focused on two key areas as the validation of proposed tourism strategic plan and proposed tourist routes within and between the islands.
Ms. Lashika Sabesan, a Town Planning professional graduated from the Department of Town and Country Planning of University of Moratuwa presented the concept of Island based tourism to the audience from a picturesque presentation.
This presentation gave the opportunity for the audience to understand the objectives as well as the outcomes of this project. A video presentation, exclusively focusing on “The Real Mannar” was brought up to the audience to refresh their mindsets about the largest Island Destination in Sri Lanka. There were five stunning video presentations were created by EFECS Project for Northern Province to highlight the unique features of every district and that has created a huge voice among national and international prospective travelers during this pandemic time.
“We are planning to find good source of funding to promote this island tourism plan similarly the way we promoted other islands with the help of EFECS Project” said Mr. Mascarenhas speaking to the audience. He further elaborated that Northern required a considerably higher attention on the infrastructure and arrival of investors is extremely important as the government entities alone cannot do this exercise. A sincere gratitude was extended to the Government of Canada for investing on this community-based initiative to uplift the livelihood of the people.
The proposed tourism strategic plan and routes were presented by Ms. Veneka Logenthiran, Project Coordinator of this programme. The proposed tourism strategic plan a comprehensive SWOT analysis including participatory problems and potentials identified by previous community workshop and the Strategic Intervention including the Vision, Goals and Objectives. The proposed tourism routes have discovered numerous existing and hidden attractions within and between islands. The proposed route was a 10days route which is ideal for a tourist who prefer isolation and entertainment within a pristine environment rich with nature and culture.
The audience proposed to include thematic routes for the Strategic Plan specially focusing on Religious Trails, Historic Trails, Dutch and British Heritage, Nature Trails…etc. Also, it was proposed to highlight the existing accommodation and facilitations as well as to propose the ideal locations for the investors to come up with their proposals.
Geo Spatial Analysis was conducted exclusively for the Delft Island which would be the heart of future tourism among the Real North Islands.
Participated stakeholders delivered their ideas on the developed plan and the routes. “The biggest strength of Real North Islands is being the largest island base in Sri Lanka. Therefore, it should be highlighted in the situational analysis. Similarly, the biggest weakness or the barrier is the accessibility whereas the existence of Jetty developments and lack of safe ferry services and boats” highlighted by Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer (Tourism) commenting on the proposal.
Mr. F. Sathiyasothy, Divisional Secretary of Delft Island validated the proposed plan for Delft Island with some alterations and valuable comments received from the other divisional secretaries represented from Velanai, Kayits and Poonakary. A list of attractions and the route will be submitted for validation for the stakeholders those who were unable to attend the session said, Ms. Logenthiran. The final plan and the route are proposed to be presented on 15th September 2021.