‘Safe and Secure’ certification unfair - ASMET | Sunday Observer

‘Safe and Secure’ certification unfair - ASMET

6 December, 2020

The ‘Safe & Secure’ certification marginalises small and medium establishments, posing another hurdle for them to resume business when the airports open for tourists early next year, President of the Association for Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET) M. B. Jayarathna said.

The certification is issued to tourism establishments through an independent auditing firm (KPMG) to ensure that they conform to Covid-19 health protocols. According to Sri Lanka Tourism, ‘unsatisfactory operational practices detected during periodic spot audits or through reported violations or complaints’ could lead to the cancellation of the certification. “As a small and medium business, we face a difficult situation. We were badly affected by Covid-19 and when they open the airport, they want us to get a certification,” Jayarathna said and added, ‘Safe & Secure’ is easily obtained by major tourism establishments than smaller ones such as those owned by members of ASMET.

ASMET has also written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga about their plight.

Calling the certification ‘an absolute waste of funds’ ASMET called upon the authorities to withdraw the decision to make ‘Safe & Secure’ certification mandatory, as inspecting and certifying thousands of service establishments would be costly and time consuming.

ASMET instead asked to monitor the work to ensure that they observe the safe and secure guidelines of the Health authorities, adding that a one-time audit is not sufficient and is not practical to maintain health guidelines.

“This is not practical. Recently, a five-star hotel in Colombo that was cleared by the KPMG reported Covid-19 cases. We think MOHs and PHIs must conduct frequent visits to tourist establishments and check whether they maintain health guidelines when the airports open,” the ASMET president said.

He said they were waiting for the tourism industry to resume to get back to business and recover the loss caused by the Easter Sunday attacks and the ongoing pandemic.

“The tourist trade believes that the State will understand the predicament and extend its sympathy to make life easier and sustainable for all towards future progress and development to increase tourist arrivals and foreign exchange that would help build a strong economy for Sri Lanka,” ASMET stated in its letter.

Addressing the issue, an official of the Ministry of Tourism said ‘Safe & Secure’ certification will help them to keep track of where tourists stayed in case a Covid-19 patient is detected. The certification was introduced considering the requirements issued by the World Health Organization, he said.