Sri Lanka’s Inspector General of Police (IGP) has instructed the police personnel deployed at tourist spots to learn Hindi, Chinese and other foreign languages, which are widely spoken by visitors coming to the country. India and China are the top two source countries for international tourists to the island nation.
“The officers of the Tourist Police Division should pay special attention to language training. In addition to English, they should also learn widely used international languages such as Chinese, Hindi and French,” IGP Pujith Jayasundara said, according to a report in the Sri Lankan daily, The Island.
Jayasundara gave the directions at a meeting with senior officials of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) and officers of the Tourist Police Division, which was organized at the Police Headquarters in Colombo last week.
“We have to understand the important role played by the tourism sector in the country’s economy. In a few years, it is expected to become the largest foreign exchange earner for the country. Therefore, ensuring safety of the foreigners visiting Sri Lanka will be a top priority for the police force,” the Sri Lankan publication quoted Jayasundara as saying in the meeting.
Jayasundara also said that 25 new Tourist Police stations would be set up across the country to ensure the safety of tourists, and asked the Tourist Police Division to position itself as a brand, adding value to Sri Lanka’s reputation as a safe destination.
Sri Lanka recorded a 15.3 percent growth in the number of tourist arrivals during the first half of 2018, compared with the same period in 2017. India topped the list of countries sending tourists to the island, with 206,337 Indians visiting Sri Lanka in the first half of this year. Chinese tourists stood at the second place, with the number of tourist arrivals from the country marked at 136,294 persons, according to PTI.
It was also reported earlier this month that Indian tourists may soon be entitled to get a visa-free entry in Sri Lanka, with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appointing a task force to look into the possibilities of extending the facility to tourists from India and China.
The proposal was aimed at encouraging more people to visit Sri Lanka and curbing “chaos” during the immigration process, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said, the news agency Xinhua had reported earlier. Following recommendations from the task force, the proposal may be implemented in the off-peak months of October, November, March and April, the minister had added.
Tourism in Sri Lanka suffered over the last three decades due to volatile situations arising from civil war in the country. However, the sector has now become one of the leading industries in the nation, attracting tourists from all over the world.