Steps to streamline tourism relief measures | Daily News

Steps to streamline tourism relief measures

Minister Amaratunga calls meeting with top brass
Minister John Amaratunga, Chairman, SLTDA, Johanne Jayaratne, Chairman, BAR and SLAAR, Dimuthu Tennkoon, Jerald Victoria, Country Manager, Emirates, Colombo and Male, Chandana De Silva and Secretary to the Ministry Tourism, S. Hettiarachchi in Colombo
Minister John Amaratunga, Chairman, SLTDA, Johanne Jayaratne, Chairman, BAR and SLAAR, Dimuthu Tennkoon, Jerald Victoria, Country Manager, Emirates, Colombo and Male, Chandana De Silva and Secretary to the Ministry Tourism, S. Hettiarachchi in Colombo

Tourism Minister John Amaratunga has called for a meeting with the Central Bank Governor and CEOs’ of state and private banks and also Insurance companies on June 11.

“Though the government has offered an economic relief package for tourism industry stakeholders in the aftermath of Easter bombings, the banks and insurance companies are slow in implementing them. Hence I have called for a meeting at the CBSL to ensure the speedy implementation of this package,” he said.

“I have taken up this matter with the President and the Prime Minister and if the banks and insurance companies further delay in passing on the benefits, I will ask the CBSL to take stern steps against them. This may also include the suspension of the licenses.”

The Minister said that the Civil Aviation Authority, Sri Lanka Customs, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation have all agreed to offer relief on aviation fuel, embarkation levy and ground handling charges for six months after a Cabinet decision.

“I will also speak to The Ministry of Cultural Affairs in a bid to reduce entry fees for historic tourism sites in Sri Lanka and will also explore the possibility of offering a round ticket, to explore all these attractions from a single ticket.”

Amaratunga disclosed that the government will soon offer the free visa on arrival facility that was stalled last April after the Easter blasts. New technology would be used during this process where the traveler’s details would be received in Colombo as soon the air ticket is booked, enabling the Department of Immigration to screen the traveler. “This will avoid unwanted visitors calling Sri Lanka.”

He however said that the government would not offer this free visa facility to both China and India as they feel that it will deprive the Immigration Department revenue as both China and India field the highest number of tourists to Sri Lanka.

When pointed out by the Daily News that the Department of Wild Life is charging a fee of Rs. 2,500 from a ticket of Rs. 8,000 (US$ 50) from each foreigner who goes on Whale Watching tours in Mirissa, Amaratunge also said that he will speak to the Department to differ taking this fee for a short period.

Prior to Easter blasts over around 30 vessels sail out each week end from Mirissa for Whale watching and this number has now reduced to around 6 a week.

 


 

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