Written by Staff Writer
05 Jun, 2019 | 10:04 pm
Colombo (News 1st): Many businessmen who rely on the tourism industry have already lost their means of generating income. The arrival of tourists in the country came to an abrupt halt after the 04/21 attacks that targetted certain leading tourist hotels in Sri Lanka.
News 1st delved deep into the current situation of the tourism industry. A tour of some of the main tourist attractions on the island made it clear that many businessmen connected directly and indirectly to the tourism industry had lost their livelihood.
Small scale hotel owners pointed out that they do not even have sufficient money to pay off the salaries of their employees. Arugambay is flooded with tourists this time of the year. But today there are no tourists.
Chairman of the Cultural Hotel Association Saliya Dayananda noted that they have decided to pay the salaries of all the employees at all leading hotels. He noted the employees have been sent on paid leave as there are no tourists and certain concessions have also been granted to part-time employees. He went onto note that the effects of these are felt by the small scale entrepreneurs and the situation of the people who own small rest houses is quite bad.
Employees of the tourism sector who earn a smaller basic salary compared to employees of other industries earn a bulk of their money through service charges. These employees who now lose their income through service charges due to the sudden drop in tourist arrivals are facing an array of issues in meeting their daily financial commitments.
There are also many people who supply certain services affiliated to the tourism industry such as vendors and tour guides. Majority of them note they had to shut down shops due to the lack of tourists.
Many three-wheeler drivers also depend on the tourism industry. The effects that the sudden drop in tourist arrivals has on these three-wheel drives are also quite evident. Speaking to the media they noted that due to the lack of foreigners, the villagers do not have any money. Their economy has completely collapsed and they have fallen to a situation where they cannot even maintain their families.
Taking into consideration the current situation of the tourism industry the government announced a grace period for the repayment of the loans obtained by those engaged in the tourism industry. But the current situation is such that some of these businessmen are not even in a position to apply for this concession.
Secretary of the Unawatuna Hotel Association Rupasena Koswatta noted that they have not been granted any concession. He added that this is because the circular issued by the Ministry of Tourism states that approval needs to be sought by the Tourist Board, therefore, the banks have not given them this concession.
He pointed out that in tourist hotspots like Unawatuna, Mirrissa and Ella over 90% of the businessmen involved in the tourism industry operate without the approval of the Tourist Board.
Meanwhile the Trincomalee District Hotel Association convened a media briefing to speak about the current situation of the hotel industry in the area. Director of the Trincomalee District Hotel Association Anura Bandara said the businesses of everyone involved in the hotel industry has been destroyed and they do not know what to do.
He added although many proposals have been made to financial institutions by the government none of the banks or financial institutions have implemented any of these. He noted they hope that they will receive some concessions from the government soon.
Secretary of the Trincomalee District Hotel Association Sandhya Priyadarshani said the statements made by the Finance Minister to the media changes a lot when it reaches these areas. She added when they go to obtain a loan, they ask for many documents because many people here do not have land deeds due to the situation in the area with the war.
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