|Tuesday, 11 January 2005|
Anura all out to redevelop tourism industry
By Shirajiv Sirimane
Minister of Industries, Investment Promotion and Tourism Anura Bandaranaike assured the travel industry that he would do his best to obtain more assistance from the government to redevelop the tourism industry in the aftermath of the Tsunami which struck on December 26.
The Minister who addressed leading hotelliers in the Southern Province at the Governor's residence in Galle last Sunday said that he has also urged the affected hotels to reopen as soon as possible.
He said that he had already spoken to officials of the government and the private sector to seek ways and means to get them involved in the rebuilding process.
He said that a cabinet paper would be soon introduced giving guidelines on housing and building in close proximity to the sea. He called upon all to sink political differences until such time of an election and work together.
General Manager Unawatuna Beach Resort Janaka De Silva said that some insurance companies are citing various excuses and are evading payment in connection with the disaster. "The insurance companies say only hotels who have taken earthquake insurance cover are entitled to payment," he told the Minister.
De Silva said that the hotels were damaged by floods and not by an earthquake in Sri Lanka and urged the Minister to look into this. The Minister said he would take up this matter with the insurance companies.
Managing Director Lady Hill Hotel Galle Senaka De Silva said that the government should provide more financial incentives for the industry. "We need soft loans, tax incentives and more time to pay loans obtained by hoteliers," he said.
Hoteliers pay around 17 percent tax by way of cess to the Tourist Board, Municipal Councils and for Vat. He appealed to the Minister to intervene in this area as well.
Produced by Lake House