Private sector associations oppose Tourism Bill

Private sector associations oppose Tourism Bill

Private sector associations oppose Tourism Bill

Written by Staff Writer

05 May, 2021 | 10:10 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga is set to hold talks with private sector tourism associations tomorrow amidst mounting objection against moves to introduce a new Tourism Act.

According to private sector associations, the new legislation excludes private sector representation, raising several concerns among the private-sector driven industry.

“At present what we need is financial relief. Not to change the Act. And also we need vaccination for the tourism industry,” Prabudda Jayasinghe, the secretary of the Association For Small & Medium Enterprises in Tourism said.

The private sector has also raised concerns over the utilisation of the Tourism Development Fund, as they would be excluded from the decision-making process once the Act is passed.

The fund is financed by Airport Tax collections and 1% of the turnover of all establishments registered under the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

According to the Tourism Act, the allocations of the Fund are as follows;

  1. 70% to the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.
  2. 14% to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority
  3. 12% to the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management
  4. 4% to the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau

Nishard Wijetunga, the Vice President of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators pointed out that the private sector needs to be represented in these boards to ensure that the Fund is not misused.

“The Fund totals around 3.5 billion rupees,” Wijetunga noted.

Concerns have been raised on the future of valuable land areas that fall under the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority as well.

“(The) Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has the biggest valuable land bank,” Rohan Abeywickreme, the director of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators said.

He pointed out that such lands in Kalpitiya, Bentota, Beruwala, Pasikudah and Kalkuda could be given for other purposes as the private sector will be excluded from the decision making process under the new law.

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