No more tax on Tourism Industry - Amaratunga | Daily News

No more tax on Tourism Industry - Amaratunga

 The Finance Minister has agreed not to impose any taxes any further on the Tourism Industry, disclosed Tourism Minister, John Amaratunga addressing the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka’s 51th AGM in Colombo on Tuesday.

The government will also explore the possibility to provide duty free concessions in the direction of refurbishment of old hotels. With regard to the issue of minimum room rates applicable for city hotels, Amaratunga said it was too early to make changes to it. “Further length of time must be given in order to establish your selves in the industry which is going to bring in a lot of revenue into this country,” the Minister asserted. Although several requests were made at least two years must be given before abolishing the minimum rate and allow market forces to determine the rates, the Minister opined.

Amaratunga said from the time he assumed office he had been pushing to get the destination marketing programme off the ground but ‘the so many regulations’ in the country had hindered the process. Now the government is determined to have a very strong Cabinet Sub Committee that will give expeditious decisions on matters that were arising in the hotel industry, he said, “ Who is the investor who wants to come and hang around the city of Colombo waiting for months and months to get approval? Amaratunga questioned.

The Minister also said that he has instructed the Chairman - Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management to double up the intake of students and train them to cater to the increase of rooms by 45,000.

The World Bank has agreed to fund this programme, he said. The minister also said he had instructed the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management to increase the emoluments of his staff in order to absorb quality staff even from abroad.

Hoteliers must help to fill in the void by coming up with their own training programmes to get out of this difficulty, the Minister insisted. “In house training is what matters not at the classroom. That is where you can come in and contribute to the development of trained staff in the hotel industry,” the Minister cautioned.

Amatatunga also said that there were new trends in tourism with the development of religious tourism, agriculture tourism and medical tourism in which Sri Lanka can make inroads. The Minister said a foreign company had expressed their willingness to fund a huge convention center in SrI Lanka which could host 5,000 delegates. He said the Japanese were going to take over the entire development of Trincomalee and in Hambantota, the Chinese are asking for 15,000 acres to set up their enterprises.

“By 2020 the Tourist Industry could be able to bring the highest amount of foreign exchange to Sri Lanka,” he added.

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