A risk assessment of Sri Lankan tourist attractions, undertaken by a reputed international tour operator, was found to have the basic safety measures employed already. However, the tour operator TUI Travel Plc’s head of Specialist and Activity Health and Safety Malcolm Ellis addressing the media in Colombo this week said they faced challenges as they had to deal with mostly ancient sites with religious or cultural significant. The risk assessment was carried out with the aim of ensuring the most frequented tourist sites would maintain the required safety standards.
It was initiated through the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) that had brought down the expert with around 11 years experience in risk assessment of sites and activities for tourism. Mr. Ellis said increased safety measures should involve the provision of adequate information to visitors on the hazards and risks while visiting a site. In addition, he pointed out the need to ensure there was proactive management of visitors at the sites by the activity suppliers as this would assure tourists that they were well looked after by the management of the site. He cited the board set up on the top of Sigiriya that said “Going down is dangerous” noting this should have also been at the bottom of the site so visitors would be well prepared for their climb down from the summit.
This assessment undertaken would help hotels and tour operators to alert tourists of potential dangers as in rough seas, possible accidents during white water rafting and even when visiting ancient sites the need to maintain cautious when there could be bad spells of weather. The expert has undertaken a study and assessment of the sites in Sri Lanka including Anuradhapura, Dambula, Sigiriya, Pasekudah, Trincomalee, the hill country, Yala, Mirissa and Negombo. It was pointed out that failure to ensure safety requirements could be costly in both financial and reputation terms.
In this respect, he noted claims amounting to approximately £1 million were not unusual, and that activity based accidents would range from approximately £125, 000 - £1 million.
Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Nalaka Godahewa said this was a timely initiative adding that there was a need to ensure tourism becomes sustainable for the long term. In this regard, it was imperative to ensure environmental protection was carried out alongside, wealth distribution among all stakeholders, and that every tourist gets a good experience. SLAITO that brings in over 80% of tourists to the country believes it is necessary to ensure they return covered by the best of health and safety measures. Its’ President Nilmin Nanayakkara said they were committed towards taking care of the tourist visiting Sri Lanka, which was the basis of this risk assessment undertaken.