Tourism Chamber calls for more relief | Sunday Observer

Tourism Chamber calls for more relief

21 February, 2021

At present there are three million people who are dependent on the tourism Industry in this country as a source of livelihood. A large number of them have been affected due to Covid-19. The Chamber of Tourism and Industry has made a number of suggestions to the authorities to help them, Chamber President  A.M. Jaufer said.

Among them are: A moratorium on loan and vehicle leasing payments was given to the Tourism sector for one year. However, since there has not been any improvement in the situation it has been suggested that the moratorium be extended for a further period of one year.Although there was relief provided via in capital payments the banks continue to charge interest payments. Tourism Industry has been paying an interest rate from 9% to 15% and has been requested from the authorities to totally remove interest payments or to reduce interest rates to 4%.As tourist hotels are affected the most due to the outbreak, a special loan scheme at 4% interest needs to be introduced for SMEs engaged in the tourism industry.   A Covid-19 hardship fund should be set up to assist tourist service providers who have lost their source of livelihood.

Tour guides and tourist drivers were provided a one time relief package i.e. a payment of Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 15,000. However, since there has been no tourist business taking place and we call on the authorities to continue the same payment for another six months until the tourism industry resumes operations.Consideration should be offered to assist the indirect suppliers of the travel Industry such as suppliers to hotels, those engaged in eco-tourism, adventure tourism, manufacturers of handicrafts.

The government should introduce a pension scheme for tourist service providers and employees in the tourism sector.Foreign Investors who are interested tourism investment in Sri Lanka should be granted attractive tax concessions and duty concessions. Employees in the tourism sector to be insured against all sickness including pandemics such as  current Covid-19.Providing beach-cleaning equipment to local authorities in tourism areas.Providing a fully-equipped fire brigade to local authorities in tourism areas.Request all booking engine commissions to reduce fees until the industry picks up. The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority must set up regional branches in tourist areas. The top ten tourist-generating markets to Sri Lanka in 2019: India, UK, China, Germany, Australia, France, Russian Federation, United States, The Maldives and Canada.