Insurance cover vital for adventure sports - ASMET | Sunday Observer

Insurance cover vital for adventure sports - ASMET

23 July, 2023
Some of the tourism SME stakeholders at the media briefing. Pic: Sudath Malaweera
Some of the tourism SME stakeholders at the media briefing. Pic: Sudath Malaweera

Sri Lanka does not have a comprehensive insurance scheme for foreign and local tourists engaged in adventure sports activities, said Chairman, Diyakawa Water Sports Centre, Aluthgama, Niroshan Fernando.

He was speaking at a media briefing hosted by Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism, Sri Lanka (ASMET).

To ensure safety of his clients he has tied up with a local insurance company to offer an insurance cover. “However even some of the leading adventure sports companies and many providers who offer white water rafting packages in Kitulgala do not do this.”

He said that the best way out of this is to offer a mandatory travel insurance to all visitors to Sri Lanka and the proposed UK-backed ASUIA insurance scheme which is re-insured by Lloyds of London and HSBC is the best option.

He said that under the scheme each tourist has to pay USD 37 which is added to the ticket but in return they get one-month insurance cover which covers there stay anywhere in the world.

It also insures local tourism providers such as adventure sports instructors, drivers, guides and many other tourisms related direct service providers for a cover of USD 4,000.

Chairman, Waasala Leisure, Anuradhapura, Preethi De Silva said that this insurance scheme also has hybrid grant loan scheme (Rs. 41 billion (USD 135 million) which would be offered to tourism sector small and medium scale hotels, villas, homestays, tour operators, travel agents, food and beverage service providers.

“They could apply for loans under this scheme that can be obtained at 6% as against the loans they took at 16.5% earlier.”

The proposed scheme is a self-funding one, since the Government does not have to pay back since it would be deducted systematically in 10 years via the insurance the tourists pay,” said President ASMET, Bennet Jayarathna.

“Some large tour companies and stalwarts in the industry are opposing this saying that it would be an added cost for a traveller which is not true. Though tourism insurance is not compulsory when visiting Sri Lanka many countries have made Travel Insurance a visa requirement,” said former All Ceylon Tourism Service Providers Association, Director B. D. C. J. Bandaragoda.

“Sri Lankan nationals travelling to Sri Lanka will not be charged this insurance premium.”

Chauffeur Tourists Guide Lecturers Association Hirantha Perera (President) said that this insurance scheme even goes so far as to provide air ambulance evacuation if required in critical circumstances.

Failing to provide these SMEs with a financial rescue package via this ASUIA insurance scheme would have dire economic consequences,” said proprietor navigate SL, Sudath de Silva.