Industry up in arms | Sunday Observer
Tourism industry stake holders oppose new Act

Industry up in arms

11 April, 2021

The Sri Lanka tourism industry stake holders are vehemently opposing the proposal to formulate a new Act for the sector for which Cabinet approval was given last week following a proposal by Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga

Under this proposal amalgamating the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) was proposed along with other changes.

However, in a joint statement The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) stated they oppose this and said that priority is not a new Act but getting down tourists and other burning issues. There are more important things to be done right now and we want the government and Sri Lanka tourism to focus on these areas now, said President SLITO Tilak Weerasinghe.

He said under the present Act Sri Lankan tourism from 500,000 arrivals in the 1980s and Rs. 1 million revenue increased it to 2.5 million arrivals and 4.4. billion revenue under the guidance from then Minister Basil Rajapaksa.

He said that tourism while bringing much needed Forex to Sri Lanka and also contributed to the government coffers by paying high taxes and is a key employment generator. “The changing of the current Act, which has served its purpose in challenging times, is not the answer for the future development of the tourism industry,” said, THASL President Sanath Ukwatte. He said tourism is 99 per cent a private sector-driven industry even raising funds for tourism promotion through the TDL. The SLTDA only should play the role of regulator cum facilitator, he said.

“The current Act has been drafted in a manner that the private sector and public sector can cooperate and work together in partnership for the betterment of the tourism industry,” he added. Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando has stated that new thinking is needed to move the industry forward and needs a new Act.