Protests affect tourism industry - THASL chief | Sunday Observer

Protests affect tourism industry - THASL chief

4 December, 2022
M. Shanthi Kumar
M. Shanthi Kumar

Anyone who supports and instigates protests does not have any love for the country and especially for the tourism industry and its employees, said President of the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), M. Shanthi Kumar at its AGM last week.

“We all know that these protests have created a negative image of Sri Lanka globally. Some holiday travellers still believe that this country is unsafe for tourism and due to this, the country suffers,” he said.

He said that the industry was stuck with three back to back disasters years commencing with the Easter Sunday attack in 2019 and the outbreak of the pandemic just as the industry was recovering in early 2020 prompting a complete closure for 18 months and pulling out of it in end 2021 and early 2022, “We are now struck by a political and economic crisis.

While this is now subsiding we are facing protests which drive away tourists.”

He said that as the country needs to move on and increase forex earnings and this is no time to play politics.

“Staying out of protests is the best they can do in the interests of the over 500,000 people who earn a living directly and indirectly through tourism and over three million of their dependents,” the THASL President said.

Further to employment generation for nearly 12% of the population, the Hotels sector has invested over USD 15 billion to build hotels and other infrastructure in Sri Lanka.

“The hotel industry has attracted large foreign investment into the country even in the recent past. “Even during the C-19 pandemic, there were inquiries for foreign investment close to 900 million dollars.”

He said that the highest contribution to the Government coffers is made by hoteliers through the Tourism Development Levy (TDL) payments, taxes, levies and other charges.

Hoteliers and hotel companies spend large amounts of money overseas to directly market the hotels.

“The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka better known as THASL was set up 75 years ago even before the Ceylon Tourist Board was set up, and is the oldest tourism association in the country,” he said.

Hoteliers are not mere service providers for foreign visitors as they play an integral part in overall tourism growth not only in Sri Lanka but across the world. “Today accommodation at price points of over USD 250 per day and a peaceful environment sans huge protests will help to maintain this,” Shanthi Kumar said.