Tourism Minister reassures tour guides | Sunday Observer

Tourism Minister reassures tour guides

 Minister John Amaratunga addresses the meeting.
Minister John Amaratunga addresses the meeting.

Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga held a meeting with tour guide lecturers and chauffeur guide lecturers at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management recently.

The meeting was part of a full-day’s program arranged by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority for tour guides to apprise them of the security situation following the Easter Sunday attacks, the recovery plan for the tourism industry, and to inform them of the relief measures introduced by the government.

Tour guides and guide lecturers, totally dependent on tourism for their livelihood, are among the hardest hit by the recent tragedy.

Minister Amaratunga acknowledged the spontaneous response of the tour guides to assist the authorities in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, where they provided their services voluntarily on a gratis basis.

The Minister said that although the relief package proposed by the Finance Ministry covered the industry as a whole he had made representations to extend it to cover people who were directly affected as well.

He said that the top priority at present was to engage with the foreign representatives in the country and convince them to either revoke or downgrade the adverse travel advisories as the defence authorities were confident that the threat has now been fully neutralised and the entire country was safe for tourists to visit.

He expressed optimism that with normalcy being restored, the industry could recover in a few months. He said that a short term and long term publicity campaign will be launched in all key markets to promote Sri Lanka as a safe destination for travel.

Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Upali Ratnayake said the SLTDA will do its utmost to revive the industry in the shortest possible time, as none of the country’s tourism assets were affected by the attacks.

CEO of SLAITO, Wing Commander Kumuda Eramugolla made a presentation on the new security threats and how to overcome them, including handling a crisis situation.