in religious tourism marketing the important Buddhist holy places Sri Lanka has to offer and to cater to the many millions of Buddhists in especially from Asia. A prerequisite is the resumption of the peace process. Once the peace process is successfully re-established, the way lies open to encouraging higher spending tourists to rediscover Sri Lanka. Critical to this is, according to Sri Lankan Airlines, that the Government work to attract ”quality” carriers back to Sri Lanka. This will encourage specialist tour operators to resume the promotion of “the unique delights of Sri Lanka”, which in turn will encourage European scheduled airlines to resume flights to Colombo and entrepreneurs to invest again in facilities and ICT.67Opportunities for E-Tourism There is the growing awareness that ICT has drastically changed tourism world wide; it is of vital importance to acquire the skills and tools and to engage in a multi-channel strategy to reach the final customer– reducing dependence on foreign media, foreign tour operators and others in the traditional value chain. Merely having a ‘web presence’ is not enough, a more detailed knowledge is required of aspects such as usability and search engine optimisation and other elements of online branding and marketing. As well as providing content online , there must be services as search facilities, availability checks and online reservation and payment. Sri Lanka, especially Colombo, offers a wide variety of providers of web design, website development and other ICT related applications and services at affordable price levels, this will assist the ambitions of the tourism sector to make the most of information and communication technology. 67Interview Mr Chandana De Silva (26 September 2006). (retrieved 26 September 2006).
Page 31 sur 37 An example of an e-tourism initiative is the ambition of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World bank Group and the SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility (SEDF) to implement two online accommodation booking portals in Sri Lanka (based on the systems of Worldhotellink.com Ltd.) as part of their initiative to develop sustainable tourism in the region, benefiting local communities.68The e-Sri Lanka initiative is also important - a stakeholder-led, multi-donor funded national development initiative with the objective to grow the ICT sector and use of ICT as an enabler for socio-economic development – is the responsibility of the Information and Communication Technology Association of Sri Lanka (ICTA). One of ICTA’s projects is the development of Lanka Gate, a country portal where citizens, the general public, businesses, and government can access and obtain information and integrated government services from a single portal online. ICTA expects this to extend to the tourism sector in a few years time.