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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Main journey and tourism trade specialists, Anura Lokuhetty and Nilmin Nanayakkara, each counting over 40 years of expertise within the trade lashed out on the proposed new Tourism Act, which divorces the personal sector involvement within the trade utterly.

Each specialists acknowledged in a single voice to “The Island Financial Review” that, firstly, this isn’t the time to convey a Tourism Act and secondly, there was no have to convey a brand new Act. “That is detrimental to your complete trade. It dilutes the significance of the personal sector, which contributes greater than 90 per cent to the trade, they stated.

Lokuhetty the previous president of the Vacationer Accommodations Affiliation of Sri Lanka (THASL) recalled that the Tourism Act was first launched in 1968 after which a brand new one was launched in 1978. It created 4 separate our bodies overseeing, Tourism Promotion (SLTBP) Regulation (SLTDA) HR Coaching (SLITHM) and MICE (SLTCB).

Lokuhetty added: “The personal sector performs a 99 per cent position within the trade and has invested billions of rupees to construct inns, keep them and make use of over 600,000 employees.

“The trade brings in round USD 4.5 billion yearly (pre Covid-19 period), making it the third foreign exchange earner, contributing 12.6 per cent to GDP and there are round 2 million dependents on the trade.

“Not like in different nations, Sri Lanka journey sector stakeholders didn’t retrench employees even when the inns have been closed down throughout Covid-19 and Easter Sunday assaults, shouldering that monetary burden as effectively.

“As well as, we additionally present 1 per cent from our turnover and never from earnings to the federal government (along with different taxes) as a Tourism Growth Levy which is used for promotions and different issues.

“At present there are over 38,000 rooms and 50,000 different lodging suppliers, together with residence stayers, within the trade. Beneath the current Tourism Act the personal sector could be very effectively represented in these 4 our bodies making a ‘good mix’ and when key choices are taken the personal sector ‘voice’ is represented.

“Beneath the proposed Act, one physique goes to be created scrapping three of the establishments (excluding SLITHM), which can weaken the say of the personal sector in terms of determination making in key sectors, like land allocations (tourism has a big land financial institution unfold throughout Sri Lanka), offering budgets for promotions, abroad excursions and different key areas and there can be no correct ‘check and balance’ system. One different space is the upkeep and deployment of the TDL fund which is now price a number of billion.

“The Act can be going to be handed in a significant hurry and this additionally raises suspicions over the bona fides of bringing such an Act. Some stalwarts of the trade too usually are not briefed correctly and their views too haven’t been sought out.

” If Sri Lanka Tourism needs to make modifications, they will at all times herald amendments and never a very new Act additionally not at a time when hoteliers are dealing with the largest risk to their survival.

“Arrivals have dropped due to Covid -19 and hoteliers are facing power cuts, lack of diesel and gas and also skyrocketing commodity prices and other issues and to burden them with a new Act does not ‘fit’ well at this time.”

In the meantime, a Tourism Ministry official when contacted stated that the trade would solely acquire by bringing a brand new Tourism Act since it will pace up decision-making and result in the betterment of the trade. “At present we’ve to maintenance and coordinate 4 our bodies and clearly when they’re trimmed to 2, there are benefits. Nonetheless, there can be illustration from the personal sector and already over 70 tourism associations have endorsed this and are eagerly ready till it’s carried out to reap advantages, he stated.

The official added: “It’s the large tourism hoteliers who oppose this as they are only ones reaping benefits from the industry and don’t want ‘small players’ to propose and get involved in the decision-making process. We have also had a series of discussions with several bodies and have also obtained Cabinet approval for this new Act which will help to increase the benefits of the revenue from the industry among small timers as well.”

In the meantime, Nilmin Nanayakkara, former president of the Sri Lanka Affiliation of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) stated that the so-called 70 plus associations that Sri Lanka Tourism claims are supporting the trade have been by no means even heard of 4 years in the past and so they have all of the sudden sprung up. “The leading associations are SLAITO, THASL, and ASMET (representing the SME sector) and all of them are against the Act. The current four bodies in tourism are not burdens but assets working towards the betterment of tourism as professionals are in them and they provide valuable inputs to the industry which are highly respected.”



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