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Locals outraged as Israeli and Ukrainian tourists operate businesses in South

28 February 2024 06:36 am - 50     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Kamanthi Wickramasinghe

Following the Daily Mirror’s expose on Russian tourists engaging in illegal businesses in several areas in the south, it has now come to light that many Israeli and Ukrainian tourists are also engaged in running similar businesses in the south, hampering local businesses and causing much concern among industry stakeholders.

The Daily Mirror visited these areas along the southern coastal belt and learnt that business operations run by Israeli and Ukrainian tourists include boutique hotels, restaurants and cafes.

However, local tour operators claim that most Ukrainian tourists have even reached the extent of organizing excursions which they claim is illegal as tourists don’t have a license to operate as inbound tour guides.

Local nationals in the south claim that if an immediate monitoring process is not enforced, tourists and locals are likely to clash as the tourists are attempting to hinder local businesses and hinder their livelihoods.

During a visit on ground, the Daily Mirror also learnt that Israeli nationals have purchased lands to set up their businesses. Local sources told the Daily Mirror that some Israeli nationals have purchased lands on a 99-year lease basis. As a result, the demand for land and property has skyrocketed in these areas.

The tourism sector stakeholders on Monday confirmed that Sri Lanka is witnessing an increasing trend of international visitors engaging in business activities and warned that the industry, in certain parts of the country, is impacted as a result.

Officials from the industry said they had alerted the relevant authorities regarding a section of tourists arriving in the country for long stays, carrying out business activities, without proper registrations and a majority of these tourist-run businesses started off small but have grown considerably over time.

“We have been talking about this to the authorities as early as 2022. We saw this situation brewing in the South but now it has spread to other areas as well," SLAITO President Nishard Wijetunge said.

Tourism Minister Harin Fernando had over the weekend said his Ministry had held discussions with the Immigration Department following several complaints from local businesses and following raids conducted by the authorities, several of these foreign run businesses were not registered with the SLTDA and neither were they paying taxes.

Article


  Comments - 50

  • Mahinda Ambahera Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:06 AM

    Locals rather than complain should offer better services and competitive prices

    Fact Wednesday, 28 February 2024 01:16 PM

    Absolutely , locals must improve the substandard services by learning from foreigners . a healthy competition will improve the quality of service.only thig is govt should allow forigners to register their businesses in a smooth and easy way since we are among least ranking business friednly countries for forigners and investors

    Hadam Wednesday, 28 February 2024 01:50 PM

    It is the government's responsibility to provide them with funding and guidance. It involves a load of knowledge about the foreigners' health and safety.

    SM Thursday, 29 February 2024 07:21 AM

    Absolutely, I’m not at all surprised locals can’t compete. When I tour Sri Lanka I found the lazy locals offering below 3rd world products and services and trying to charge 1st world prices. No wonder tourists would prefer to pay 1st world prices to these foreigners and get a 1st world service.

    SM Thursday, 29 February 2024 07:25 AM

    And another major problem with the Sri Lankan’s is they, like children, think the government should tell them what and how to do, and if someone else does better the government, like their “parents” should go in and chase them away. You will never develop with this mentality.

    Ravi Will kramasinghe Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:07 AM

    We oppose anything without even thinking of what’s happening in other parts of the world, I have met a Sri Lankan running a restaurant in Greek Island Santorini. Every major city has streets run by different communities. We love to oppose and discourage rather than embracing the change for good.

    Joshua Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:20 AM

    I thought you need a Ranils tin number to do business ? Do they have one?

    Liberal One Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:29 AM

    If locals don't do it, foreigners will.

    Neo Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:30 AM

    Our people doesn't do anything other than waste time listening to Anura's pessimistic pora talks. And when foreigners actually do something our people want to stop that as well. I say let the competition come. Otherwise our people will always be lazy.

    Mohamed Adham Wednesday, 28 February 2024 10:49 AM

    Fine, but, not when they DO NOT adhere to the Rules and Regulations of the Country. Most of them are NOT regulated within the Tax system and other relevant government requirements. A level playing field is all that is required. Yes of course the MORE THE MERRIER .

    Potta Harry Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:39 AM

    Tourism minister may say Sri Lanka is a part of Russia and Ukraine so they can do business in Sri Lanka

    Part of ... Wednesday, 28 February 2024 01:52 PM

    You nailed it. North is part of india, east is part of China, west is part of Ukraine, south is part of Russia and center is part of USA. Wow.

    Eper Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:50 AM

    With the opening up of the country for tourism, all our neighbors and other nationals will try to make a fast buck by getting hold of a local and purchase property, and do business in Lanka.The locals must not loose the opportunity of running their businesses smoothly due to interference of the foreigners and APPLY THE LAW TO THE FULLEST(or amend the law , to protect the locals)as this is their bread and butter to support their families.It must be noted that our currency was devalued in 2022 and lost it's strength in comparison to the international currencies

    Adwani Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:51 AM

    There are lots of businesses in Sri Lanka, but locals are not enthusiastic in doing business, this a histrorical fact. When the need for Tea Leaves picking arised in the Tea Estates locals were not available and Britishers used Indians to get the job done. This is one of the reasons, same problems have risen in business of catching fish, Tamil Nadu fishermen are encroaching because locals are slow in this activiti. Locals only knows how to get enraged at someone who is prospering, same problems with Tamils led to the violence. If foreigners wanted to business the Tourism Ministry immediately introduce business category visa and provide them with necessary guidance. Locals only be encouraged to accept the importance of such Tourists who engage in business, Locals should not get simply enraged. This small poor Island needs such Tourists who understand the business. Locals must engage in providing support and earn. Majority of the population is suffeing from high Cost of Living.

    Lankan businessman Wednesday, 28 February 2024 02:27 PM

    Agree totally. A problem amongst Sri Lankans whether living in SL or abroad is that each of them wants to be in charge and the boss. This results in disunity and the inability of Sri Lankans to sufficiently capitalize business.consequently business in SL are limited to sole proprieter shops. At leat the foreigners are seeing opportunities that our fools cannot.

    Gen Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:53 AM

    Give them PR in Sri Lanka. They can do wonders , especially Israeli and Ukrainian nationals. They are highly skilled and talented. They could contribute the economy with industries little known to us ( defence , AI, Bio Informatics, Wine and food industries, Agriculture .. etc). We cant live like frogs in the well. We need to bring in skilled people, we don't have migration policy and nobody migrates to SL, so let this be the gate opener. Stop complaining and compete with them, competition brings high quality. Take it as a challenge. Daily Mirror , stop playing politics with this, and look at the bigger picture.

    Lalith Wednesday, 28 February 2024 11:42 AM

    Well said.

    Yoga Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:58 AM

    When Sri Lankans frenzy is to jump abroad somehow, foreigners knowing the potential are coming to do businesses here.

    CITIZENS ARE SICK OF THIS CRAP, ANOTHER LAME EXCUSE WILL POP UP Wednesday, 28 February 2024 08:57 AM

    WHAT WAS THE MINISTER DOING SINCE 2022 WHEN COMPLAINTS WERE MADE? WE NEED A EXPLANATION FROM THE MINISTER, DOES IT TAKE 2 YEARS FOR A MINISTER AND HIS DEPARTMENT TO OPEN THEIR EYES AND EARS TO WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE TOURIST SECTOR IN THE COUNTRY. GEEZZZ

    Sandy Wednesday, 28 February 2024 09:48 AM

    Like Thailand basic jobs should be reserved for locals . Foreigners should be restricted to tour operation. The destination management companies should be free to do business.

    Fred Wednesday, 28 February 2024 06:12 PM

    There are a lot of Burmese prostitutes in Thailand doing basic jobs.

    Sokrates Wednesday, 28 February 2024 09:53 AM

    The Immigration Department has a special investigation team that is responsible for such matters and also has the authority to order deportations if there is a violation of visa laws. Why isn't this happening? If this investigative group does not have enough manpower, the STF must be called in. Anyone who runs a business here on a tourist visa, whether themselves or through a Sri Lankan front man, is doing so illegally and their visa is automatically invalidated. This country offers foreigners enough opportunities to legally open businesses and own companies here, even 100 percent.

    Fathima Lai Wednesday, 28 February 2024 09:57 AM

    When locals want govt concessions and freebies to run businesses, foreigners buy lands at higher prices and run businesses profitably. Where is the issue?

    Nujra Atiw Thursday, 29 February 2024 03:05 PM

    The issue is that they dont pay taxes.

    D.M. Herath Wednesday, 28 February 2024 10:32 AM

    Yes, unfortunately our people are not adequate enough to provide the service which foreigners expect. When will people in the tourism industry learn. We are sitting on a goldmine yet no one wants to do the work. Last time I went to Hikkaduwa I was appalled at the state of the town and beaches. Who would want to come to Sri Lanka for their holiday if even the local people don't care. We also must address the money laundering hotel owners. Look at Negombo beach area....How many of these businesses are actually legitimate and not to hide dirty money? This is why the educated young are leaving.

    Neo Wednesday, 28 February 2024 12:24 PM

    Here goes this stupid pessimism again. Then why are foreigners here doing businesses? This is just an issue with the mentality.

    dias.p Wednesday, 28 February 2024 12:15 PM

    Guys, We are so incapable and can't capitalize the opportunity. Let them to do at least these guys bring to tourist to this country. Come out of the box and think rather than opposing.

    Lakmal Wednesday, 28 February 2024 12:24 PM

    Is it even possible for foreigners to buy land in Sri Lanka? Very soon Israel will concor Sri Lanka and claim this country also promised by god to them.

    Lanka Shantha Wednesday, 28 February 2024 12:33 PM

    Get advice from Thailand Authorities on how to handle this kind of situation.

    Fair Enough Wednesday, 28 February 2024 12:36 PM

    It is all fine as long as they do it legally. Illegal businesses will let down our economy further.

    Citizen Wednesday, 28 February 2024 12:38 PM

    When our talented ministers are sleeping these things happens, it is the tourism ministry and land ministry have intervene before things goes out of hand. Tourist can not own land and run business without registering a business and pay tax to the country. They should have a business visa and be able to lease shops from locals and pay tax, otherwise how locals can compete.

    Bandu Wednesday, 28 February 2024 01:25 PM

    Seriously, this is the biggest problem in the country? Economy is in the dump, crooks stealing money . You idiots complaining about one thing that is working for the country tourism. Competition is good, consumers get better service

    Joe Wednesday, 28 February 2024 01:40 PM

    These foreigners are only exploiting the opportunities offered to them by the local setup. Greedy land and property owners sell or lease their properties knowing tourist visa holders can't do so and the lethargic officials looking the other way to the taste of bribe money. As well as deporting these illegal foreigners, they must jail the locals who enabled them.

    Cherath Wednesday, 28 February 2024 02:34 PM

    Complacency and lethargy in the Sri Lankan mindset has no limits to the potential self inflicted destruction in Sri Lankan society. Government issued long term visas on 'compassionate' grounds to Russians and Ukrainians. Now they are pussey footing or unable to retract them! Before long, only a few will leave before Visa expire.

    ANNECUNT Wednesday, 28 February 2024 02:39 PM

    let tourists run the sri-lankan airline to make a profit

    Chaminda Prasanna Wednesday, 28 February 2024 09:05 PM

    Here in Dubai, most of business activities run successfully by foreigners but with strict regulations. No under hand dealings to encourage competition which is good for future business prospects. We shall never agree to run Tourists only resturants, Hotels and private beaches. Trend is brewing that locals are not allowed in Beach hotels, heard there's segregation in kandy railways station, seperate Toilets, rest areas..etc. I heard some restrictions was proposed by authorities in Bali to curtail roudy Tourism from Eastern Europe.

    Lanka Wednesday, 28 February 2024 03:41 PM

    We are living in a global village and we should know that these tourists can boast our economy and let us give some temporary licence to do business and even some business visa . It is good for our economy

    FORTUNE TELLER Wednesday, 28 February 2024 03:50 PM

    SOME OF YOU HAVE MISSED THE MAIN POINT, THAT IS THESE SO CALLED TOURISTS ARE OPERATING ILLEGALLY WITH NO REGISTRATION AND NOT ON A BUISINESS VISA, SO NO TAX ETC IS BEING RECOVERED AND THE FUNDS ARE BEING REMITTED OVERSEAS, SO THE COUNTRY DOESN'T GET ANY BENEFIT. I AM SURE THERE WOULD BE LOCALS WHO WOULD LIKE TO INVEST IN WATER SPORTS, BUT I GUESS THERE IS SO MUCH RED TAPE ETC PUTS LOCAL INVESTORS OFF. BESIDES WE JUST CANNOT HAVE EVERY DICK, TOM AND HARRY COMING INTO THE COUNTRY AND OPENING TWO BY FOUR BUSINESSES ILLEGALLY, END RESULT WE WOULD HAVE COUNTLESS NUMBER OF CHINESE AND RUSSIANS, WHICH WILL BE USEFUL TO CHINA AND RUSSIA IN THE FUTURE IF AND WHEN THE WORLD SITUATION TAKES A TURN FOR THE WORSE (THEY MAY HAVE EVEN BEEN SENT HERE USING THE WAR AS A EXCUSE, THINK FORWARD).

    Ban foreigners buying lands forthwith Wednesday, 28 February 2024 05:24 PM

    Hey Harin, What will happen when Indian tourists swamp these places? At least with their white colour we can find out the white tourists engage in illegal work. What about Indians masquerading as locals?We should bring immediate rules as in Arab land ,foreigners can't buy lands.

    Fred Wednesday, 28 February 2024 06:06 PM

    Are they paying taxes? If not, put them in prison.

    Banda Wednesday, 28 February 2024 06:15 PM

    Those who know about tourism and other parts of the world, there are so many businesses are there run by foreigners. However there should be a proper regulatory mechanism and they must pay taxes and obey the local laws. Those who are complain must inform the authorities to implement the and get ready to compete with them to give better service. For those who know about tourism and other parts of the world, there are so many businesses there run by foreigners. However, there should be a proper regulatory mechanism, and they must pay taxes and obey the local laws. Those who are complaining must inform the authorities to implement it and get ready to compete with them to provide better service.

    Dharmatileke Wednesday, 28 February 2024 06:52 PM

    Deport them with a stamp on their passport “never to comeback for 10 years “ and punish the locals who provided the sales outlet

    Device05 Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:53 PM

    Foriegners running local business unregistered is as good as illegal undiayals. None of the dollar stays in the country. Guess those support such endevours just want to see this country collapse.

    SL Local Wednesday, 28 February 2024 09:42 PM

    Excellent! Hope they take over the Taxi cabs at the airport as well. They will provide a better quality and honest service compared to our locals! As a Sri Lankan I dont feel bad for the locals as they will always cheat you. Competition is always good!

    Vino De Croos Thursday, 29 February 2024 05:26 PM

    Also, take over the Visa extension office. It is in a mess. The minister does not have a vision, he is there to make money for himself.

    Kevin Thursday, 29 February 2024 02:42 AM

    Both are trying hard to avoid conscription. Their countries are at war. They don't want to return to their countries.

    Azam Thursday, 29 February 2024 02:50 PM

    For all those who say, let them be. Would you like to go on a visit or tourist visa to any of the said "cuntries" and try doing business? Think before you speak. There should be law and order in all countries not just theirs. If you let this carry on you will be called illegal for legally doing business. Plus unregulated businesses never benefit an economy and its a danger to the people who use that service as they can dissappear in a flash and be unaccountable.

    Tissa Fernando Thursday, 29 February 2024 08:33 PM

    They will get competition from Indians very soon who will start coming in thousands. They will come freely after the ECTA and do whatever they want.

    NIMALEE Saturday, 02 March 2024 01:54 PM

    Tourists must run the Parliament and the Sri-Lankan airline then we are happy. we have crooks in the Parliament and the airline

    Shera Sunday, 03 March 2024 05:33 AM

    Locals don't see opportunities and they are not willing to work. I live overseas and have contacted many companies to obtain paid services for things in Sri Lanka. But they are very lazy, non responsive and never call back or take a week to reply. Very poor work ethic. Locals need to be happy that foreigners are investing in Sri Lanka and land value is going up due to it. Learn something from them and stop complaining.


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