Project Report

Developing a National Tourism Policy in Sri Lanka for the UNDP


The UNDP partnered with Sri Lanka to create a comprehensive National Tourism Policy. This project aimed to foster a participative process that involved various phases and tasks to support the creation of the policy document.

Developing a National Tourism Policy required a thorough understanding of Sri Lanka's current tourism landscape and past efforts to formulate tourism-related documents. The process needed to be participatory and involve stakeholders from various sectors.

Category: Tourism Development

Our Approach

Part I: Research, First Questionnaire, and Issues Paper

During the initial phase, thorough research was conducted to gain insights into Sri Lanka’s tourism situation and historical attempts at creating national tourism documents.

SWOT Analysis: A comprehensive SWOT analysis was developed using scholarly texts, private consultant analysis, and publicly available materials. This analysis provided a clear view of Sri Lanka’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Data Analysis: Detailed statistical analysis was performed on aspects such as accommodations, tourism employment rates, tourist arrivals, and regional comparisons.

IRAMUTEQ: A specialized data visualization software was utilized to analyze over 400,000 English Tripadvisor reviews. This tool helped understand tourist perceptions and preferences for hotels, restaurants, and attractions in different regions.

Issues Paper: An evolving 67-page document, the Issues Paper, was crafted to raise key questions from stakeholders. It covered international benchmarks, growth, job creation, tourism forecasts, and critical issues like recovery, environment, infrastructure, and marketing. This document was continually updated based on stakeholder inputs.

Part II: Second Questionnaire & Stakeholder Meetings

The project transitioned to focus on potential reforms through stakeholder meetings and questionnaires after completing the Issues Paper.

Questionnaire Construction: A more targeted second questionnaire was designed based on stakeholder meetings and proposals. It condensed key open-ended questions from the Issues Paper to gather specific feedback.

Additional Research: Research documents were created to provide insights into subjects like apprenticeships and government decentralization. These informed potential reforms for the questionnaires.

Results Analysis: Data from the second questionnaire was analyzed, visualized, and cross-referenced to understand stakeholder support for various reforms. Stakeholder comments were grouped to guide subsequent meetings.

Part III: National Tourism Policy

The final phase involved crafting the National Tourism Policy document.

Developing KPIs and Action Plan: An Action Plan was developed to detail the implementation of reforms, including activities and key performance indicators. This plan addressed stakeholders’ concerns about policy implementation.

Assisting in Writing the Policy: Assistance was provided in writing various sections of the National Tourism Policy. Additionally, an annex resembling the Action Plan was created, outlining indicators and KPIs to measure policy implementation.


Through a participatory approach, the collaboration between the UNDP and Sri Lanka resulted in a comprehensive National Tourism Policy. Thorough research, stakeholder engagement, and data analysis contributed to reforms that were validated by stakeholders. The policy was equipped with an actionable plan and indicators to guide its implementation.


The partnership between the UNDP and Sri Lanka successfully culminated in the development of a robust National Tourism Policy. The process demonstrated the importance of stakeholder involvement, data-driven decision-making, and meticulous planning in shaping a policy that aims to drive sustainable tourism growth in the country.

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