IP rights will boost competitiveness of tourism industry – WIPO

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By 2017-11-15

By Nishel Fernando

Sri Lanka should adopt a new business model for the use of Intellectual Property (IP) rights in the tourism industry to boost the competitiveness of enterprises and achieve the industry goals set for 2017-2020, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has recommended.

Addressing the launch of 'Intellectual Property in Tourism and Culture in Sri Lanka', a study done by Dr Nishantha Sampath Punchihewa for the WIPO, yesterday, the representative of WIPO, Francessca Toso asserted that IP was an effective tool to enhance competition and boost tourism income generation. However, she remarked that stakeholders need to be aware of the benefits of IP systems to reap the benefits from it.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Director General, Malraj B. Kiriella said IP rights of 72 tourist shops, 53 spas and 32 spice gardens which are registered in the Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTPB) would be protected. However, he noted that there were many businesses in the informal sector which is yet to be registered and he encouraged those businesses to register with SLTB in order to protect their IP rights.

The study asserted that the role of IP tools is to improve, leverage, facilitate and make tourism products and services more competitive and attractive while pointing out that Sri Lanka could capitalize on IP rights to promote sustainable tourism segments such as eco tourism, community based......tourism and agro-tourism. Moreover, it suggested "Events and cities could also be promoted by adopting branding strategies that are protected by the trademark law of Sri Lanka."

The study highlighted that "Ayurvedic and traditional medicinal systems need standardisation to make them more well-known ayurvedic destinations such as Kerala. Currently, insurance companies are reluctant to cover expenses involving Ayurvedic treatments in their insurance policies. This can be achieved by establishing proper standards, quality control and proper supervision following strict guidelines. Branding ayurvedic through trademark law, in particular, the certification mark regime will add value and give the much-needed credibility by conforming to international standards."

The study pointed out that Sri Lanka could excel in wellness tourism with IP system and IP tools also would contribute to increase a visitor's length of stay from the current 10.1 days.
Speaking to Ceylon FT, Punchihewa said that Sri Lanka's current reputation was vague in wellness tourism. He pointed out that trade markets, patents and copyrights can add value to business, as tourists were more likely to choose places which are protected by IP rights.

In terms of SMEs, the study emphasized "IP tools could be used effectively to create competitive SMEs, for example registering trade name of a hotel/restaurant would add value to SMEs. IP rights could be used as collaterals and IP-backed loan schemes could be implemented for the benefit of cash-strapped, tourism-oriented SMEs."

Sri Lanka was one of four destinations in the world to be chosen for the WIPO study, the other destinations being Egypt, Ecuador and Namibia.

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