- Says situation will have detrimental effects on the industry and main tourist season
- industry was on course to achieve 2.25 mn arrivals
- Notes State administrative bodies defunct right now
The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) has highlighted the need for a speedy solution to the political stalemate, which will have detrimental effects on the tourism industry and the main tourist season.
At a recent meeting convened by the newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, THASL President Sanath Ukwatte stressed for an early settlement of the current political crisis, as further delay to this impasse will lead to adverse effects to the forthcoming winter season.
This year, the industry was on course to achieve the highest arrivals of 2.25 million with a targeted US $3.5 billion of earnings, but the industry is now unstable due to the recent political developments.
Talking on behalf of the industry, Ukwatte mentioned that the functioning of administrative bodies, which are unfortunately defunct right now, is vital for the industry to move forward and to operate smoothly.
Tourist industry boards have an equal number of members representing the industry and act as catalysts in tourism promotions, training of staff and regulatory functions. The industry contributes 1 percent of its turnover for the functioning of these boards.
Having successfully launched its newest brand tag line ‘So Sri Lanka’ in London and the endorsement by highly influential ‘Lonely Planet’ naming Sri Lanka as the top destination to visit in 2019, the industry was buoyant of achieving approximately US $ 4billion next year.
“We request all parties concerned to work together with the industry in launching its global media campaign in March, next year, keeping to our original plans,” Ukwatte stressed.
THASL renewed their call for many of the appeals they had made before highlighting on the requests for the tourism industry to be granted export status and to lower the excessive taxes that make Sri Lankan hotels uncompetitive compared to other regional countries.
He also aired the views of the industry to bring in necessary legislation to abolish the proposed municipality tax of 1 percent on the total turnover, where the hotel sector has been singled out.
Ukwatte said hoteliers are struggling to stay viable because of these high taxes and stiff competition from the informal sector, which operates without paying any form of taxes. He urged that taxing the informal sector and creating a level playing field is another major concern of the industry.
He further mentioned that the industry feels it may be a good idea to make Sri Lanka attractive by allowing visa free travel to the lucrative Indian, Chinese, Middle East, EU and UK travelers keeping in line with what other regional countries have adopted in the recent past.
Leading hoteliers together with SLAITO President Harith Perera and their members participated at this meeting.