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Sri Lanka tourism industry to receive USD 135 Mn. hybrid grant from ASUIA UK

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President of ASMET, M. B. Jayarathne

Sri Lanka is set to receive a much-needed boost to its tourism industry with a hybrid grant scheme of Rs. 41 billion (USD 135 million) from ASUIA UK backed by world-renowned re-insurer, Lloyds of London and HSBC said President of Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism, Sri Lanka (ASMET), M. B. Jayarathna.

The grant is aimed at reviving the country’s tourism industry, which has been hit hard by Easter bombings, COVID-19 pandemic and the recent economic crisis.

This comes at a time when Sri Lanka is looking to exceed 4 millions visitors by 2030 and increase its foreign currency income. The majority of visitors to Sri Lanka come from neighbouring countries and unfortunately, most of these visitors are uninsured.

“In case of medical need, these uninsured tourists receive medical services from the public medical system, which is financed by the country’s treasury.” Under this medical and travel insurance scheme for foreign visitors, backed by Lloyds of London allow Sri Lanka to join other countries which already implemented similar scheme such as: Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Russia, Botswana, Cameron, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Aruba, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama.

It’s also similar to the EU travel requirements where the insurance will cover medical expenses, including all medical treatment, and repatriation if necessary. It will also cover other unforeseen events such as national catastrophe (tsunami, act of terror, pandemic and alike), flight cancellations and even lost luggage or passport.

The travel insurance scheme is expected to be a win-win situation for both tourists and the country. Tourists will have access to a comprehensive insurance scheme at a low cost, while the country will benefit from increased tourism revenue.

“The scheme will be funded through a premium of as low as $35, which will be included in the visitors’ flight ticket for a 30-day stay. The Hybrid grant of Rs. 41 billion will be used to develop the tourism industry further and recover the costs of the travel insurance scheme.”

The grant will be recovered within 10 years, and the government hopes that the initiative will help attract more tourists to the country and boost the economy.

The SME sector requires immediate attention to sustain the business and support the increasing arrivals of tourists to the country as 80% of the tourism service providers are from the SME sector.

Such SME’s can apply for concessional loans (6.25%) under this scheme from their local banks. Overall, the introduction of this travel insurance scheme and the connected hybrid grant scheme is a positive step towards reviving the tourism industry in Sri Lanka,” he added.

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