Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga yesterday urged the industry stakeholders to actively look at introducing activities to spice up the nightlife for tourists, so that more would be keen on visiting the country.
Pointing out that the common complaint, mostly from Indian authorities, is that there are not many entertainment activities to keep tourists occupied, Amaratunga stressed that this area requires increased attention.
“Our casinos are no doubt an attraction to many Indians but the complaint I get from the Indian authorities is that there isn’t enough entertainment in the city of Colombo. That is why more Indians go to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia since younger people look for entertainment in the night,” said the minister.
“I have been telling the City Hotels Association that they should start their nightclubs. I don’t know why they are not doing it. No one is objecting it so they (hoteliers) need to be more serious about starting nightclubs,” he added.
Hotels in Sri Lanka operated nightclubs and bars up until a few years ago and halted operations after the government through a budget proposal imposed a levy of Rs.100,000 for every hour of bar operation.
Speaking to Mirror Business, City Hotels Association President M. Shanthikumar said that there are no issues in carrying out activities to promote nightlife other than the hefty fee imposed by the Excise Department.
“It became expensive for the hotels to continue as it was not commercially viable to pay Rs.100,000 every hour. This resulted in many hotels shutting down bar operations,” shared Shanthikumar.
The levy was imposed as a means to generate revenue for the government.
Shanthikumar said presentations have been made to the government to do away with the levy and such is expected to be scrapped in coming months. (SAA)