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locals outraged as Israeli and Ukrainian tourists operate businesses in South

28 February 2024 09:36 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Several of these foreign run businesses were not registered with the SLTDA and neither were they paying taxes

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.  

  • Local nationals 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

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