The Tourism industry has crashed to the bottom soon after the bomb explosions on Easter sunday in Christian churches and particularly in a few Colombo Tourist Hotels.
It is very clear from the pattern of blasts that tourists were also targetted. Even during the LTTE attacks tourists were not particularly targetted.
To revive tourism once again there are a few steps to be taken by the Government as early as possible as all those who are directly and indirectly employed in the field of tourism will be very soon affected by non - employment and lack of income.
I believe that if the following measures are adapted , at least for a limited period of time , it would help in encouraging tourists to visit Sri Lanka:
* Waive off the compulsory visa requirement as soon as the degree of risk in implementing it dwindles.
* Make Arrival and Departure formalities and procedures at the Airport as less tedious as possible.
* Reduce the price of Entrance tickets to the mostly visited sites such as Sigiriya, Pinnawala, Botanical Gardens,Temples etc.
For example, The Entrance fee to sigiriya ( LKR 5500) is much higher than the fees levied to visit the world famous sites and monuments such as Taj Mahal,(Indian Rs 1100) Louvre Museum,(Euro 15) , St Paul's Cathedral, ( 17 Pounds) Ajantha and ellora Caves ( Indian Rs 600 ) and many other monuments which cannot be enumerated in this letter
Many tourists that I have accompanied during the recent past have all remarked that entrance fees to almost all the sites and monuments,Botanical Gardens, Natural Reserves, Buddhist Temples ( very few Hindu temples levy a fee from visitors and not a single church levies a fee as Entrance ) are excessively high and prohibitive.
Dambulla Rangiri Viharaya levies Rs 1500 from a foreign visitor and has to pay the shoe keeper Rs 25 per pair of shoes and and additional Rs 100 per person for using the public toilets on the premises.
If the authorities concerned could introduce some attractive incentives to tourists, instead of fleecing them at every point, a hope for the future could emerge, at least in a few months times, for all those who are engaged in tourism industry.
National Tourist Guide Lecturer
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