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Tourism industry upbeat on Minister’s initiative

The Tourism industry was upbeat about the revival of the industry by the end of September following Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga’s assurances in that direction.

This follows Ranatunga’s assurances to the industry of a massive boom in the aftermath of the completion of the vaccination to the industry and the country. He was addressing the media with the arrival of 1.5 Million vaccines of Moderna from the USA on Saturday. The Convenor of the One Industry, One Voice and immediate past Chairman of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) Mahen Kariyawasam told Daily News Business that “We are happy to note that the vaccine drive for the locals especially the front line staff of the tourism industry is underway. This will create confidence for the travellers to visit our country. There are some special promotions planned together with Sri Lankan Airlines adding Moscow to their network. This month will be a good boost for the industry.

However, there are concerns regarding the methodology of making a booking/reservation. For example when a tourist wants to apply for a visa he has to first log in to the ETA system get a reference and then advise the local

Destination Management Company / Hotel in Colombo which in turn has to advise/pay in is dollars to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority for the PCR & insurance! Then the SLTDA will advise immigration to issue the visa. Now, this process takes about 2-3 working days. There should be a better simple way we can pay in Sri Lanka Rupees directly to the Government approved hospitals and submit a receipt. In the health guidelines, it does not mention to pay to SLTDA! So there is a discrepancy between the health guidelines of the ministry of health and the SLTDA. The same is for the exit PCR where only if the end country or the airlines request an exit PCR has to be done.

The system has to be made simple which also enable us to get the “last minute “ market, especially from Russia. We are also happy that all tourism sites and wildlife parks are opened and we look forward to a Good reopening of our industry and we are thankful to the Minister and his officials for paving the way.

Commenting on the Minister addressing all the Colombo Ambassadors in overseas destinations through a webinar, he said:” We are also made to understand that the Minister has had a virtual discussion with all the Sri Lankan Ambassadors serving overseas to enlighten them on the current progress of the reopening of Sri Lanka for tourism. This is a timely initiative as they were on the spot overseas can do a lot to promote Sri Lanka.

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