PM instructs to reduce SriLankan ticket fares | Daily News

PM instructs to reduce SriLankan ticket fares

Ground handling and airline fuel charges to be brought down
Embarkation Tax to be brought down to USD 40.
Tour operators provided with urgent funds
Clear credit guarantee for hospitality sector within a week

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has instructed SriLankan Airlines to reduce the airline ticket fares to support the endeavour to revive the tourism sector in the post-Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.

The instruction was given during a Weekly Development Meeting chaired by the Prime Minister at Temple Trees yesterday, National Policies and Economic Affairs Ministry Advisor Sudarshana Gunawardana told the Daily News. Ministers Sagala Ratnayaka, John Amaratunga, Thilak Marapana and Dr.Harsha de Silva, State Minister Eran Wickramaratne, Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga and senior officials of the Treasury, Central Bank, Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited,  Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Sri Lanka Tourist Board had attended the meeting.

“The PM instructed the National Carrier to reduce the ticket prices, so that the other airlines will have to follow suit. In order to do that, the ground handling charges will be brought down in par with those in Delhi and the airline fuel charges will also be brought down for the next six months. This was agreed. The PM pointed out that reducing the ground handling fees is necessary if the country to be considered a tourist hub,” he said.

Accordingly, it has been agreed to revise the airline ticket prices, once the ground handling charges and fuel charges are revised. The Embarkation Tax will also be reviewed and it has been recommended to bring down it to USD 40.

The PM will present a Cabinet Paper shortly seeking approval for all the above recommendations.

It has also been agreed at the meeting to launch an immediate campaign targeting tourists from Germany, France, UK and India.

“The tour operators will be provided with urgent funds for the purpose of tourism promotion. Currently Rs.150 million is available with the Tourism Promotion Bureau for this purpose. The PM highlighted the need to spend this money efficiently to attract more tourists,” Gunawardena explained.

Gunawardena also said that out of the 43 foreigners eligible for compensation after the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, only one Japanese tourist had expressed interest in receiving compensation.

He also said that the victims of the communal tensions in Minuwangoda will begin receiving compensation from the end of this week.

It has also been agreed at the meeting to consult the Finance Ministry, Central Bank and other banks on a clear credit guarantee for the hospitality sector.

“Even though the Government has proposed various facilities for the hospitality sector recently, we found that the banks are not cooperating and asking for a guarantee. The PM instructed Minister Dr Harsha de Silva and State Minister Eran Wickramaratne to work with the Finance Ministry, Central Bank and other banks to come up with an instrument within a week where the risk can be shared instead of asking for a guarantee,” he added.

The representatives of the hospitality sector had also complained to the PM on the discrepancies in the charging of taxes and levies by various Local Government Authorities. The PM, observing that the matter comes under a devolved subject, had however suggested the Tourism Ministry to consult the Attorney General to develop a ‘National Policy’ on rates being levied on hotels by the LGs.

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