Given the importance of tourism in boosting socio-economic development, Ranatunga on Tuesday held separate individual meetings with four industry associations to garner fresh inputs for a quick revival.
There had been several recommendations both in the short and medium term from the officials of the Colombo City Hotels Association (CCHA), Colombo City Restaurant Collective Association (CCRCA), Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition and Event Organisers (SLAPCEO) and Tourism Services Providers Association (TSPA).
Representatives of these associations had strongly insisted on financial relief for those engaged in restaurant operations in line with the Government’s program to restore normal life in the country and until tourists return in tandem with relaxation of global travel restrictions.
During the discussion, hotel and restaurant owners had pointed out that the closure had caused immense difficulties for employees, and the Minister had assured that Government had already taken steps to initiate a relief program.
Obtaining relief for leasing payments and introducing a concessionary loan scheme were some of the requests made by the representatives, to which the Minister had pointed out that he intended to present these proposals to Cabinet shortly in consultation with the Ministry of Finance.
Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando who was associated with the Minister at all the meetings pointed out that the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) had already been circulated among hotels and restaurants.
The hotel owners also agreed to open and operate their restaurants according to guidelines issued by the health authorities.
The Minister was of the view that the Government should follow the same guidelines in consultation with the Health Ministry and the COVID-19 Task Force to formulate a program to reopen hotels and restaurants.
Tourism Ministry Secretary Siripala Hettiarachchi and Sri Lanka Development Authority (SLTDA) Director General Dhammika Wijesinghe were also present at the discussion.