Now it is Tourism Promotion Authority
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Several Sri Lanka Tourism stakeholders say the new proposal by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2021 Budget, to re-organise the four existing institutions of the tourism sector by bring them under the new Tourism Promotion Authority, was not discussed with them.
President of Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators Mahen Kariyawasam stated that this reconstruction of Sri Lanka Tourism has been proposed without consulting the tourism stakeholders, mainly the SLAITO and Hotels Association of Sri Lanka or the other stakeholders in tourism.
However, Director General Sri Lanka Tourism Kirmalee Fernando said, that the industry consultation, in preparing the new Act to merge three or four institutions would be sought, but the Act has not even been drafted.
She further said, requests for the proposal would be first sought from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority employees and thereafter, it will reach the industry, the university and any of interested stakeholders for their input and will then be drafted. “It’s a long process,” she explained.
Kariyawasam said, “This is a very important Act for our industry at this crucial moment in time and we regret that we have not been consulted. The need of the hour is to open Sri Lanka for tourism conforming to the health guidelines.”
“Our opinion is these changes should not be done without consulting the stakeholder as we also contribute by way of Tourism Development Levy to the promotional fund,” he noted.
According to the budget proposal, the unique tourism projects, with investment of over USD 10 million will be offered concessions, up to a maximum of 10 years under the Strategic Development Law.
Fernando further emphasised that the current structure with four Institutions, The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) and The Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM), has resulted in inefficiency with overlap of functions and lack of a coordinated effort in managing Tourism in Sri Lanka.
“The fragmentation of roles and responsibilities among the four institutions is a key problem. This has resulted in duplication of functions, increased costs, lack of specialties skills and an uncoordinated framework to achieve the development and strategic goals,” she expressed.
Consolidating the three if not four institutions will facilitate the synergies, efficiencies, corporation, implementing best practices and a united approach required across their activities, she said