Sri Lanka Tourism supported by EU to develop wellness tourism


Supporting the speedy revival of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka, the European Union (EU) Delegation to Sri Lanka, has allocated funds to help strengthen the local wellness tourism capacity for Sri Lanka to transform into an attractive destination for wellness tourism. This will be carried out under the guidance of Sri Lanka Tourism. The resulting ‘Sri Lanka Wellness Tourism Stakeholder Project’ will be officially launched on 15 February 2022.

The launch will involve key stakeholders of the project where details of the project will be shared, followed by a group discussion on wellness tourism capacity development. A follow up meeting will be held on the 25th of February to share findings and recommendations from all stakeholder meetings, site meetings and discussions with wellness tourism resorts, hotels and training providers. A presentation of the findings determined through surveys carried out amongst wellness tourism organizations and training providers will also be presented this month.

The EU Delegation has contracted IBF International Consulting to undertake a technical assistance assignment to develop short term course curricula for Ayurveda therapists and wellness facility management in Sri Lanka in order to provide an authentic experience to tourists to grow the wellness tourism component for the country.

The Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, Kimarli Fernando commented, “Wellness and nature are high on the priority list for travelers presently and Sri Lanka has much to offer on both counts. Considering the lush greenery, nature, Ayurveda, yoga, spirituality and culture in Sri Lanka, it is one of the top wellness destinations in the world and we are grateful to the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka for recognizing and investing in building further capacity 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 ‘train the trainer’ and a supervised pilot roll-out course. Paul Penfold (Project Team Leader) will be in Sri Lanka for a 2-week mission to meet stakeholders and assess needs together with Dr. Attanayake (National Expert) from 14 – 26 February.

Paul Penfold, MEd, is an experienced development consultant specializing in tourism strategy, HRD, educational technology, curriculum development, programme design and quality management. He has lived and worked in Asia, including Sri Lanka, for more than 25 years and has also taught hospitality/tourism in universities in Hong Kong, Myanmar, China and Vietnam.

Dr. Pushpika Attanayake is an Ayurvedic consultant, researcher, and a 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 leading hotels, including the Fortress Resort and Spa and Anantara Kalutara Resort in Sri Lanka, as well as the Royal Ayurveda, in Dubai Healthcare City. She has also served in a stint at the Sri Lanka Ayurvedic Drug Corporation.

With the wellness traveler generating at least five times more earnings than the standard tourist, Sri Lanka Tourism is strategically working with key stakeholders to position the destination to cater to the demands of this high yielding segment. With the assistance of external experts, the Authorities are focusing on product and infrastructure development, training and guidance to the SME sector and the larger industry, targeted marketing and promoting investor opportunities.

With its Ayurveda and yoga traditions, rich heritage and culture, authentic and distinctive cuisine, warm and hospitable people, abundant flora and fauna and a multitude of water-based activities the island is ideally positioned to welcome the wellness traveler. Sri Lanka will have to compete with regional wellness destinations such as Kerala and Bali, destinations that have been focusing on health and treatment-based experiences for many years.

The island can however elevate its offering above health to holistic wellness enabling the differentiation of product to appeal to the various segments of travelers within the sphere of Wellness Tourism.