“No necessity to change Tourism Act”
Hiran Cooray, Chairman of the Tourism Advisory Committee to the Ministry of Tourism says there is no necessity to change the present Tourism Act which has resulted in the betterment of the industry. He said further that the change of the Tourism Act would be a disaster and requested the industry to honestly look at what is best for the country.“This is not the time to change the Act; there are much more serious matters that require the attention of the Development Authority and the Promotion Bureau.
The Industry has gone through probably the worst period ever especially during the last two years. It is not necessary to waste our time and energy on matters like these, especially when we are just about to raise our head again. Nevertheless, if there are issues relating to the Act that need polishing up or changing a little bit, we would be happy to work with the authorities and get it amended?” The Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO)along with the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) held a press briefing yesterday (10) for the first time to voice their concerns on the overpowering attitude of the Sri Lanka Tourism officials to hurriedly repeal the 2005 Tourism Act and bring in a New Tourism Act.
Nilmin Nanayakkara, tourism stalwart, commented, “regulators should be able to unify the industry. Instead the industry is falling apart and it has been instigated by certain parties with a hidden agenda to fight against one another. I think a leader should lead the industry towards achieving the goals especially in a crisis situation like now.” The change will give immense and excessive powers to the regulator and the other Government officials on many matters including acquisitions of land etc with clear protection for members of the authority with immunity against prosecution.
SLAITO and THASL are two of the most well-established tourism organizations, and they believe that there are other priorities that the tourism authorities should focus on in order to drive business to the country, as the sector has been at a standstill for nearly two years due to the global pandemic situation caused by Covid 19.
The tourism authorities must collaborate closely with the private sector to bring business back to the country as quickly as possible, allowing the country to earn the much-needed foreign exchange. The change in the ACT will not result in a single dollar entering the country, but it will grant the authority limitless powers over a large quantum of funds available at present in the Boards. The Secretary of Tourism originally misled the industry by claiming that the reform was included in the government’s manifesto,”Saubhagya Dakma.” We now discover that nothing of the sort is contained in this manifesto,” both associations said. In response the Minister requested a private sector proposal for the reforms, which was given and promised to include it in the revisions. However, the draft Act does not include any of the sector’s recommended reforms in its entirety. The private sector was requested to submit proposals in response to a formal request made by the Secretary of Tourism. (IH)