Spotlight: Econ Op-eds in Summary (Week ended 22nd April'20)
1. COVID-19 signifies both “danger” and “opportunity”
By: Lionel Wijesiri
· The Covid outbreak is a primarily a public health crisis, followed by an economic crisis. If we can contain the virus without overwhelming healthcare systems, then we can focus on easing the economic restrictions put in place to supress the virus. The post-pandemic economic challenges facing Sri Lanka would be demanding and a negative economic growth is possible.
· A national strategy on economic recovery is important. The liquidity of financial institutions and the considerable amount of people living under poverty needs to be looked at. Ensuring survival of small business would be pivotal for recovery. A coordinated global response in containing the outbreak is required for tourism and trade flows to recover.
· In Sri Lanka, a vast imbalance between the rural and urban sectors exists. The crisis also offers the Government a rare chance to undertake the required policy changes to overcome the rural-urban disparities in the country. China is now prioritising the country’s rural areas over urban development. We too, like the Chinese, should seize the opportunity.
2. Post-COVID-19 challenges and the way forward for Sri Lanka tourism
By: W.H.M.S. Samarathunga
· The global tourism industry will suffer major setbacks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the World Tourism Organization estimating a 20-30% reduction compared to 2019. In Sri Lanka, the industry is the 3rd largest foreign exchange earner, and employs 380,000+ individuals. However, both the Easter Attacks and the COVID outbreak will result in an inability to meet growth targets for the industry.
· Sri Lanka’s top source markets are also severely affected by the pandemic, reducing potential visitors. Combined with containment measures for the pandemic, this will likely result in tourism job losses and financial pressure on industry players as well. It is important to anticipate post-COVID trends for the industry and capitalise on Sri Lanka’s strengths to exploit these.
· Domestic tourism will be important initially, and regional markets will be the next segment. Focusing on top-tier visitors may also help in the short run, while steady messaging to traditional source markets will help in the long-term. The industry will also have to pay very close attention to health and safety standards to reassure visitors. Formulating a Tourism Resilience Plan that will lay the foundation to respond to future crises is key.
(Compiled by: Chayu Damsinghe, Asel Hettiarachchi & Eshan de Mel)
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