Govt. unveils tourism concessions to spur investor interest | Daily News

Govt. unveils tourism concessions to spur investor interest

The Shangri-La in Colombo after the Easter bomb blast.
The Shangri-La in Colombo after the Easter bomb blast.

The government is set to introduce several concessions to restore the country’s beleaguered travel and tourism industry, which is experiencing heavy cancellations after the Easter terror attacks.

Finance Ministry sources said the Cabinet approved an entire package of concessions yesterday to spur investor appetite as well as tourism stakeholder confidence. The concession package is expected to revive the industry on a sustainable footing.

The government has introduced the concessions based on recommendations from a Ministerial Sub Committee headed by Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga. The committee was tasked with designing strategies to revive the tourism industry, which was the third-largest contributor to the country’s GDP in 2018.

The tourism industry was poised for a strong 2019 before the terrorist attacks on April 21. Tourists inflows increased fivefold since end 2009 – from 500,000 in 2009 to over 2.3 million in 2018.

The concessions include extended loan repayment periods for those who have obtained loans for travel and tourism businesses, re-documentation of existing loans, and provision of a Working Capital Loan subsidy under Enterprise Sri Lanka in which the government bears 75 per cent of the interest rate of the loans with a two-year repayment period, the sources said.

Stakeholders will also be able to import tax-free security inspection equipment, such as handheld metal detectors and vehicle scanners, as part of the relief package, a Ministry official said. The items could be imported without duty, except for NBT, he said.

State Finance Minister Eran Wickramaratne had also presented a proposal to reduce VAT by five percent with respect to registered hotels and travel agents, from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2021, he said.


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