With the third wave of the pandemic severely affecting the Industry, tourism authorities have requested new relief from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in addition to the extended debt moratorium from banks and finance companies, as well as concessionary working capital which was arranged for the industry in 2020/2021.
To extend this support, Sri Lanka Tourism is further requesting the Central Bank to write off outstanding debts or interest waivers to sustain stakeholders who would otherwise have to shut down operations in the absence of tourists.
Further, the authorities secured VAT exemption for the tourism industry lobbying for tourism to be classified as an export industry; 12-month instalment facility for utility payments and six month grace period for vehicle lease rentals was obtained; provisional registration to support informal sector was structured; loan and refinancing schemes to the value of Rs. 150 billion for affected industries which included tourism was provided and a Memorandum of Understanding with the Vocational Training Authority (VTA) to provide island-wide training for tourist drivers was facilitated.
The authorities additionally provided the opportunity to convert existing accommodations to Safe and Secure Level 1 and Level 2 hotels and intermediary care centres while the liquor license fee was waived off for 2021.
With the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, Sri Lanka Tourism took the initiative to expand the support provided to stakeholders previously overlooked, and reached out to tour guides, including national guides, chauffeur guides, area guides and site guides, trained and registered with the SLTDA and provided relief totaling Rs 40.52 million.
Additionally, as COVID-19 support; Sri Lanka Tourism recognized that many unregistered guides were not able to garner the support extended during a time of crisis hence steps were taken to register provincial guides and grant them a one-off payment of Rs. 15,000. Further, Provincial licenses were issued to the accommodation providers for the first time.
Sri Lanka Tourism will continue to assist all stakeholders and while continuing to explore new markets and promotional channels to attract the ‘new normal’ traveller to ensure the revival and sustainability of the industry are taking measures to ensure that all tourism industry employees are vaccinated by October.