Assess damage to tourism and compensate SMEs soon - ASMET | Daily News

Assess damage to tourism and compensate SMEs soon - ASMET

due to XPress Pearl calamity

When assessing the damage caused to the environment and economy due to the fire and subsequent capsizing of the XPress Pearl ship, the damage caused to the tourist industry too should be assessed and measures should be taken to compensate those engaged in the tourism industry as well, urged M. B. Jayaratne, President Association for Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET).

He said the perishing of the ship in Sri Lankan waters would affect Sri Lankan tourism severely also affecting its stakeholders. It has also come to light that the authorities were assessing the damage caused to each and every sector in order to obtain damages from the ship owner company.

Jayaratne therefore requested the authorities to assess the damage incurred to the tourism industry as well and take swift measures to compensate all affected tourism stakeholders particularly the SMEs without delay from damage claims received from Xpress Pearl owners.

Jayaratne said tourism SMEs were facing a severe crisis due to the Covid pandemic and have lost all their income for over a year’s period now, facing a severe financial crisis. As a result, they were unable to pay employee salaries, debt repayment instalments, electricity, water, telephone, EPF, and ETF payments and their activities have come to a standstill, unable to carry out even their day-to-day chore.

Due to this tourism SME members had fallen in a severe depression condition and to add to their worries have to now face the calamity of the Xpress Pearl which would further hinder their livelihood.

Jayaratne said whenever the members of the association had faced a crisis and were unable carry on with their business activities ASMET always intervened on behalf of its members to negotiate with the authorities and bring about a solution.

ASMET also appreciated the assistance given by Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Chairperson Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Kimarli Fernando and all their and Ministry officials towards the association.

ASMET is currently the leading association representing SMES in the tourism industry and SMEs constitute 80% of the entities of the tourism industry that existed nearly five decades in the country.

Jayaratne noted that tourism was one of the main foreign currency generators of the country bringing in over US$ 4.5 billion in 2018.

The ASMET President recalled that at the time the country obtained independence from the British the main foreign currency sources were consumables like tea, rubber and coconut exports. However, in the sixties earning foreign currency and providing employment to youth became

problematic and as a solution to that tourism came to the limelight. “Therefore protecting and sustaining the industry is of pivotal importance”,he added. (FJ)

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