Tourist guide lecturers seek soft loans | Sunday Observer

Tourist guide lecturers seek soft loans

11 April, 2021

The Ministry of Tourism and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) have been blind to the grievances of national tourist guide lecturers despite several appeals to intervene, the Secretary of Sri Lanka Institute of National Tourist Guide Lecturers (SLINTGL), Sumedha Chandradasa told the Sunday Observer Business last week. Since the beginning of global pandemic in March last year, the country received almost zero international tourists until the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) was opened in January this year.

Currently foreign tourists are arriving from selected countries, as the impact of Covid-19 is still serious, especially within countries (such as Germany, India, France, the UK) which traditionally generate the lion share of tourists to the island nation. The Ministry announced that international tourists from January-March 2021 has been around 4,500 whereas the country received 740,600 international tourists during January-March in 2019.

As a result, the dependents of the tourism industry are severely disturbed as their main source of income has dried up completely.  

“In July and August last year the SLTDA offered us Rs. 20,000 as a gesture of courtesy. However, that was a one-off stipend and there had been no other benefit to the national guide lecturers ever since,” Chandradasa said.

“We are not actually requesting a grant or a give-away from the authorities. We have requested the government to provide us loan facilities at a low interest rate. A minimum of Rs. 1 million from such a facility would allow us to use such money on another business,” he said.

Meanwhile, the national tourist guides are also waging a struggle to win a minimum daily wage as the legal provisions have not been updated since the late 90s. The Minister of Tourism has appointed a committee to resolve the issue, but the commission is yet to announce its decision.

Currently the minimum wage is determined by private tour operators and a national tour guide receives about $13 (Rs 2,500) per day, while $100 per day being the globally accepted, industry standard.

“Even India pays $80 for a licensed tour guide. But the sad part is that, tour packages of an international tourist to Sri Lanka includes “international fees” for the service of a licensed guide, which we do not get fully. Therefore, we anticipate immediate action on this. Also, we do not request $100 per day, but we need at least  $35 per day,” Chandradasa said.