ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 29

Lanka’s tourism faces second tsunami

By Malik Gunatilleke

Hotels and resorts hit by the tsunami two years ago are now facing another tsunami because of a drastic slump, if not collapse of the tourist industry in the aftermath of renewed war, terrorist attacks and other forms of violence

Hotel and tourism officials said the Government must intervene to help hotels and resorts pay back loans taken for reconstruction and make available other relief measures.

After the recent terrorist attacks in the capital and other parts of Sri Lanka, many countries had issued travel warnings against visiting Sri Lanka, resulting in tourist arrivals plummeting in the past few months.

Hotels hit by the 2004 tsunami have once again borne the brunt of the losses. The Tourism Ministry has therefore considered a plan of action to help these hotels by requesting banks to hold up on loan repayments.

Tourism Ministry Additional Secretary George Michael told The Sunday Times that his ministry had requested the Government to take action to prevent further financial losses to these hotels.

“We are currently observing the situation in hotels around the island but are concentrating on helping the tsunami affected hotels cope with the losses from the collapse in tourism,” he said.

He said if the situation does not improve, the Government would have to step in to prevent further losses and also cutting down of hotel staff.

Mr. Michael added that the Sri Lanka Hoteliers Association had requested the Ministry to help the hotels in the tsunami affected areas in particular since they would be the worst affected by the tourist drought. Hoteliers of the South president Senaka De Silva told The Sunday Times that hotels have been urging the Government to waive the 1% tax on turnover charged from all hotels.

“The Government needs to improve the security situation because even though we slash our prices, tourists do not want to come to Sri Lanka because they don’t feel safe,” he said.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.