Tourist hoteliers ask for moratorium on loans
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is experiencing a massive beating due to the continuing conflict in north and east, and the LTTEs bomb attacks in Colombo and other areas outside the theatre of war, a top hotelier says, adding that CONDOR and LTU, the main airlines out of Germany, have suspended their operations with effect from May for the first time.
The current economic situation and the high fuel and electricity costs are also causing spiralling and unrecoverable costs on the day to day operations of tourist hotels. Speaking to The Sunday Times FT, Vice President of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) Srilal Miththapala said that everything is going from bad to worse for tourism in the country and the hoteliers are urging the authorities for concessions as there is no improvement in occupancy rates at present.
Apart from low occupancy rates, the new electricity tariff which came into force has also affected the tourism industry. The THASL has made its representations on the current plight of tourist hotels to the Tourism Ministry requesting a moratorium on loans taken by hotels. Mr. Miththapala said that hoteliers were given a moratorium far back in 1980s and they were provided with a soft loan after the tsunami period. Other than these concessions the hotel sector had not received any assistance from the state, he said.
Hundred and forty-six small and medium hotels have been badly affected and these hoteliers have found it difficult to even pay salaries of their employees numbering over 60,000 and around 180,000 are indirectly employed in the tourist hotel sector. He added that livelihoods of almost 970,000 people depending on tourism are now at stake.
Elaborating the present situation of the hotel industry Mr. Miththapala noted that adverse travel advisories are still in place from all major generating markets, except UK. He added that major tourist attractions such as Anuradhapura, Yala and Uda Walawe are still included in the ‘do not travel’ section in most travel advisories.