Tourism chief to go ahead despite SLITO objections | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Tourism chief to go ahead despite SLITO objections

10 May, 2020

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) will review increasing the daily fee of chauffer guides and site guides to USD 35, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando said.

“The current discussion (of USD 35 increment) is for national guides. The Board is in discussion with all the guides now,” Fernando said adding that the proposal is still under discussion.

Registered tour guides now receive a minimum fee of Rs.2,500 per day. If the proposed increment is approved by the Tourist Board the daily fee of national guides (later chauffeur and site guides) will increase to about Rs. 6,500 from April 30, 2021. For many years, national guides, chauffeur guides, area guides and site guides were in limbo when their pleas for a fee increment was not regarded by the stakeholders concerned.

“Finally, we decided to stage a silent protest with about 1,800 of our members on January 9, 2020. Our protest was mainly against unauthorized and illegal guides who were taking our jobs away,” President of Sri Lanka Institute of National Tourist Guide Lecturers T. G. M. Priyadarshana said. This protest was called off when top officials of the SLTDA visited their office on January 2, 2020, and agreed to introduce changes to the existing system such as colour coding of licences and maintaining a database with information of guides in a bid to tackle the issue of the mushrooming unregistered guides. During the discussion, it was agreed to increase their daily fee to USD 35, as opposed to the guides’ initial proposal of USD 50.

When the SLTDA commenced discussion about the possible hike it was rejected by Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLITO). Guides work directly with tour operators in this business. SLITO’s stance is that the guides should have consulted them before approaching the SLTDA.

Priyadarshana says he spoke to a top member of SLITO regarding the fee increment who told him ‘not even think about asking for an increment during this time’. ‘This time’ refers to the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to a document obtained by the Sunday Observer the last fee increment made by SLITO to national tour guide lecturers was Rs. 300 a day, in 2017.

Tour guides and tour operators were significantly affected during last year’s Easter Sunday bombings and are now suffering a second blow from the pandemic that has halted tourist movement.