Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF) represented Sri Lanka at the Ecotourism Workshop in Thimpu, Bhutan.
Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation, the pioneer National Ecotourism Association of Sri Lanka has been taking a number of initiatives in past to promote small and medium tourism stakeholders and SMENTS is another initiative taken by SLEF.
The Small and Medium Enterprises Network of Tourism Sri Lanka (SMENTS) has been established to connect and showcase stakeholders at Regional, Intra-regional and International SME Tourism Markets.
The SMENTS has been established for providing a platform to share and implement best practices and experiences through linkages and joint strategies as well as to provide promotional and marketing tools and opportunities to stakeholders who have fewer resources to place them in ever-changing and robust global tourism marketing scenario.
The newly established SMENTS will help to influence and secure improvement of the industry while protecting cultural heritage and environment and to gain awareness and responsibility towards society and the environment.
The Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF) that has initiated to establish this Network believes that networking worldwide will help small and medium stakeholders of tourism industry not only to link with each other rather to market and showcase their products at international and regional markets and connect them to international stakeholders. SMENTS will provide support to its members to place them in international networking through promoting their products.
"The world is moving to mobile and IT Apps and over 42% buying and selling in tourism industry is done through using mobile phones applications while overall 69% selling and buying of tourism products are done through other digital tools including websites and social media platforms. Small and Medium tourism stakeholders of Sri Lanka hardly any presence there, giving a room only to resourceful international firms to sell Sri Lankan products as "Middlemen" and this situation is not only keeping tourism dollar out of Sri Lanka rather services are bought at very cheaper prices. Here we have come up with solutions and platforms to sustain livelihood of small and medium tourism stakeholders", believes SLEF.
"We are giving a voice to small and medium tourism entrepreneurs of Sri Lanka that can be heard in the wider global forum of discussions and feel the SME tourism fraternity proud through tourism businesses", added SLEF press statement.
SMENTS will function as an umbrella organization of SLEF, in tourism sector of Sri Lanka and internationally and will be steered by a professional experienced team of SME Entity of Sri Lanka Tourism and supported by an expert panel of International Advisors from Costa Rica, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine Malaysia, Canada representing the worldwide SME Tourism Movement.
It may be mentioned that SME Tourism sector is one of the most formidable tourism segments in Sri Lanka Tourism. It generates sizable income to Sri Lanka Economy by way of foreign exchange through tourism. It is an accepted fact that the tourism income generated by SME sector in a country does not drain back to generating markets abroad through the handful of companies managed by local and foreign multinational tourism giants of main stream tourism sector. In Sri Lanka there are more than 5,000 (five thousand) SME tourism entities but most of the establishments are not registered with local authorities or Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, (SLTDA). SMENTS' formidable task will be to get those unregistered SME Entities to the fold and make them aware of the importance of worldwide SME Tourism movement and make them an opportunity to promote their businesses.
The primary Objectives of SMENTS are:
• To position Sri Lanka as a Responsible Tourism Destination
• To focus on social and economic development of Sri Lanka through best practices of tourism and will take all possible steps to strengthening of the institutional capacity of the SME sector and its members.
As the Long Term Goals, SMENTS will support
• And advice Sri Lanka Tourism on policy matters that affects the SME Tourism fraternity in Sri Lanka.
• To empower small and medium enterprises in the tourism industry of Sri Lanka by creating multi-stakeholder partnerships.
• Encourage SME Tourism stakeholders to offer personalized services to the responsible tourists who are looking for unforgettable travel experience in Sri Lanka
• To provide a Network and Forum in order to lobby with Sri Lanka Tourism to ensure equal facilities and benefits that Sri Lanka Tourism extended to mainstream tourism operators and offer tax concessions, vehicles at low duty rates or duty free and other facilities needed to promote and develop businesses of SME Tourism Sector in Sri Lanka
• Locate domestic and international donor funding to support SME Tourism Sector in Sri Lanka
• Encourage local Banks, Financial Institutions, Foreign Missions and International Finance Institution to support the SME sector with grants, affordable 'green loans', micro credit packages etc.
• Develop cost-effective but accredited 'Eco Labeling System' and 'Certification Programme for SMEs enabling them to offer their products and services to the national and international markets in a more sustainable manner, enabling them to promote quality tourism and attract high-end up market responsible tourists
• To assure fair allocation of resources and distribution of benefits to society and ensure sustainable growth without damage to our cultural heritage and environment
SME Tourism in Sri Lanka and initiative taken by the SLEF
As explained above, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Tourism sector is one of the most formidable tourism segments in Sri Lanka Tourism. It generates sizable income to Sri Lanka Economy by way of foreign exchange through tourism. It is an accepted fact that the tourism income generated by SME sector in a country does not drain back to generating markets abroad through the handful of companies managed by local and foreign multinational tourism giants of main stream tourism sector. In Sri Lanka there are more than 5,000 (five thousand) SME tourism entities but most of the establishments are not registered with local authorities or Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authorities, (SLTDA).
Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF), the pioneer national ecotourism society of Sri Lanka has been working hand in hand with the SME tourism sector in Sri Lanka for past 17 years (since 1998) and the SLEF was instrumental in lobbying for a SME Tourism Association in Sri Lanka since 2003.
• To share and implement best practices and experiences through linkages and joint strategies.
• To influence and secure improvement of the industry while protecting cultural heritage and environment.
• To gain awareness and responsibility towards society and the environment.
• Establish SME branch organizations on district and regional levels so as to build up a close relationship with SME stake holders
• Involve SMEs members in National and International Training Programmes on the latest development of eco-friendly tourism trends products
• Secure support from Sri Lanka and World Tourism Organizations to develop the SMEs to an international standards
• Support the SME Members in exploring new market opportunities through the web sites and internet marketing tools
Since the SLEF has been working with a large number of establishments and individuals of SME Tourism Sector in Sri Lanka during past 17 years, they have expressed interest in joining the SMENTS with a view to involve in this important sector.
SMENTS is looking forward to build up a healthy dialogue with Ministry of Tourism in Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) and thereby in realizing the business goals of the membership and address issues pertaining to their day to day and long term business operations. The Vision of SMENTS is " to position Sri Lanka as an outstanding destination for 'Sustainable Tourism in Asia' benefiting the Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises (SMEs) in Sri Lanka" and to promote small and medium scale tourism enterprises in Sri Lanka, serve better and offer personalized service for the national and international visitors who are willing to support the community and preserving and conservation of environment and cultural heritage of Sri Lanka".
Who could get the Membership of SMENTS
• Small and Medium Travel/Tour operators
• Hotel, guest house and Ecolodge owners
• Community Based Ecotourism Enterprises (CBEs)
• Journalists of print and electronic media who are publishing travel and tourism information publications
• Practicing National and Chauffer Tourist Guides Lecturers
• Adventure, nature based tour and Camping Operators
• Team Building Experts and Operators
• Architects, Landscape Designers in 'Green Tourism',
• Managers and Executives of National Parks and Protected areas
Benefits for the Members
• To develop professional skills and respond appropriately to the needs of the industry.
• To support participating in national and international trade promotional events, forums, seminars, international events on sustainable and responsible tourism
• And to be competitive in the global market place through high quality and responsible tourism.
• To educate members with improving their skills and services in order to develop professionalism and quality of the industry.
Exclusive web based marketing promotions for members:
• Building up of Data bases on B&B (to keep visitor to stay on page and continuously visiting the same)
• Supporting to create Online Booking System for SME stakeholders
• All promotion services of Medium and Small stakeholders are Free of Charge for Local tour operators, Tour guides, Drivers, Souvenir shops, Souvenir and handicraft artists
At a very reasonable fee SMENTS undertake to provide following services to its members
• Social Media campaign (this is page service), promote products through Face Book, Twitter and Google advertisements only to target market and target audience
• Providing audio video marking through producing documentaries and reports about products, destinations etc.
• Web solution; Website development, maintaining, updating, web hosting. Different packages including 1 year free service
• Showcase your destination; Any particular spot (hotel, resort, village, destination etc) SMENTS could facilitate members who wish to promote their businesses through international travel writers, outbound tourism companies, bloggers, newspaper, magazines
In this way SMENTS could spread information among best travel writers, magazines, newspapers, online newspaper, blogs etc. First write article about such spots and then spread among stakeholders.
Inquiries regarding Membership and related information of SMENTS please contact:
The Small and Medium Enterprises Network of
Tourism Sri Lanka (SMENTS)
Mailing Address; 326/A/53, SAMUPAKARA MAWATHA, PELANWATTA, PANNIPITIYA,
SRI LANKA Hotline: +94 777 631334
Fax; + 94 11 270 00 45