The Cabinet of Ministers has decided to appoint a Cabinet sub-committee led by Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga to recommend measures to support the tourism industry in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bomb attacks.The Cabinet on May 30 decided to appoint the sub-committee consisting of Amaratunga and five other ministers.
“The president wanted us to sit down and find out how best we can bring back normalcy to the industry, including the hotels,” Amaratunga told Mirror Business.
Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy is expected to submit a report next week on the possibility of offering the financial relief requested by the hoteliers after discussing with bankers.
“He will send a report on how best he could provide the relief package. This is not something new, there were such measures taken during the LTTE times as well,” the minister said.
The hoteliers this week requested the government to reschedule their loans while facilitating access to soft loans for working capital requirements and a moratorium period for the loans already taken by the hoteliers.
“In the course of next week, we will know what we can offer to all the star hotels and all the establishments registered with the SLTDA,” he added.
The sub-committee, which is scheduled to meet this week for the first time, will study the proposals from the industry stakeholders, including financial relief for hoteliers and will recommend the most suitable measures to the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet also approved a proposal presented by Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga to procure baggage scanners equipped with the latest technology to be deployed at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), to ensure passenger safety.
Amaratunga also noted that the Cabinet also discussed the possibility of streaming operations of BIA while ensuring the safety of passengers, as the industry stakeholders pointed out that the current measures have caused inconvenience to tourists.
Hence, he said some of the drastic security measures would be lifted in coming days.