The relief package extended by the government to the tourism sector was welcomed by stakeholders, however, the industry said further relief is required to stay afloat as the country grapples with the second wave of COVID-19.
The Chamber of Tourism & Industry Sri Lanka (CTISL) in a letter to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa urged the government to consider further relief for the tourism industry as it is still recovering from the implications of the first wave.
CTISL President A. M. Jaufer on behalf the Association put forward a nine-point wish list for the Prime Minister to consider so that the ongoing ‘crippling’ effect on the sector is reduced.
Firstly, seeking assistance to the most impacted segment, the tour guides, and tourist drivers, the Association suggested a one-time payment sum of Rs.20, 000 and Rs.15, 000 be extended every month for the next six months till industry operations resume.
For those contract employees who are not eligible for EPF/ETF schemes, Jaufer, in his letter to the Premier yesterday, urged the government to conceptualize a suitable structure so that the segment falling under this category is not left out of receiving assistance.
“We also suggest the government to introduce a pension scheme for the employees of the tourism industry,”
On the moratorium on loan and vehicle leasing payments relief given to the industry for a period of one year, the CTISL called for complete removal of the 9 to 15 percent interest payment, or look at the possibility of reducing the interest rate to 4 percent.
Furthermore, the Association also called for the terminated relief through capital loans at 4 percent, under the Central Bank (CBSL), to be re-activated and continued since the business community is observed to be facing difficulties in carrying out operations.
For the travel industry, financial relief packages were urged to be extended to the 12 domestic flight operators whose fleets are grounded since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. It was stressed that the relief be extended until normalcy returns.
The chamber also stressed that consideration should be given to assist indirect suppliers in the travel industry, such as suppliers to hotels, those engaged in ecotourism, adventure tourism, and manufacturers of handicrafts, amongst others.