Restaurant industry and tourism SMEs demand quick solutions to grievances

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) and its current leadership headed by Kimarli Fernando have utterly failed in their duties and they should take responsibility for the current situation facing the tourism industry, Rohan said. Abeywickarama, Past President of the Association of Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises in Sri Lanka (ASMET).

He made the remarks during a joint press briefing organized by ASMET and Colombo City Restaurant Collective (CCRC) under the theme “One Industry One Voice” on Tuesday in Colombo.

“The negative advisories to foreign travelers from our main source countries weighed heavily on the negative impact on the tourism industry. Despite such dire circumstances that require urgent attention and action to repair and restore what is lost, the regulator’s attention is sadly misplaced, as they are more concerned with changing the tourism law than resolving these burning issues that the tourism industry is forced to deal with. in the aftermath of a global pandemic. The repeal of the current tourism law will not result in generating a single more tourist to the country,” Abeywickarama said.

Meanwhile, CPAB said the restaurant industry is currently at a standstill with the new challenges the industry has faced with continued power outages, gas shortage and unavailability, restrictions imposed on the import of specified essential items are having a negative impact. They also expressed concern about the import restrictions imposed on important products such as salmon, imported steaks, lamb, cheese, wine and spirits, to name a few. The CCRA therefore asked the authorities to allow the industry to import directly since these items were also not available locally.

Members also questioned whether the amendment to the Tourism Law was more important than the current problems in the industry. They also said that the moratorium granted to the tourism sector was due to expire on June 30, 2022, as the tourism industry continues its efforts to survive in the post-COVID era and the authorities have failed to provide appropriate solutions. for the extension of this moratorium. establishment beyond this period.

The CCRC said it was still recovering from the Easter Sunday attacks as it expected considerable growth and stability in the sector in 2022. (MFJ)

Being a labor-intensive industry, the restaurant industry directly employs over 30,000 people, and CLS expressed extreme concern about the impact on the current situation, preventing them from managing their daily activities.

“Despite various challenges facing the restaurant industry, this current crisis is by far the most difficult and unfortunate time our industry has had to endure, along with other business communities that rely on the leisure and tourism industry in general,” CLS said. the members said.

Tourism stakeholders, especially formal SMEs, face many challenges, the ASMET representative said. He said that, founded in 2005, the association represents a wide range of small and medium sectors of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. This includes destination management companies, hotels and many other service providers. ASMET is legally registered and licensed by SLTDA and has over 100 members. CLS and ASMET members alleged that the visible lack of tourism promotions is one of the main issues that the industry, including formal SMEs, continues to face as regulators focus more on consumer-oriented marketing than on business-to-business promotional activities such as trade shows, road shows and promotions, etc. It should indeed be noted that destination management companies in Sri Lanka are responsible for almost 65% of total tourist arrivals, accounting for almost 55% of the total revenue generated by tourism in Sri Lanka. DMCs spend approx. Rs. 1.5 billion of their own funds to promote Sri Lanka as a lucrative holiday, meeting, incentive, wedding and honeymoon destination in many foreign markets with trade fairs and road shows organized by SLTPB.

Unlike wealthy hotel chains and boutique hotels, formal SMEs cannot participate in foreign trade fairs without the help of regulatory agencies. It was mentioned by the regulator that there are several associations of SMEs struggling with the current disastrous economic situation in the country. Many of the members of these associations are not registered with the SLTDA; the associations themselves are mostly newly formed and registered by the regulator which is clearly creating a divide within the tourism sector. Almost all members of these associations are DMC suppliers who are licensed and registered with the SLTDA. “We strongly believe that priority should be given to members registered with the SLTDA, which are in fact the establishments that pay the tourism development tax.”

There are more important and burning issues on which the regulator should focus its attention, which has not happened. Unfortunately, the opinions of business generators are not sought and they do not engage in any discussions to overcome difficult times together. In the event of a crisis, the regulator should unify the industry, instead, divisions are created between tourism-related associations, which harms the revival of the struggling tourism industry, said the representative of the ‘ASMET.

“We, ASMET and CCRC, stand strong and united against the repeal of the current Tourism Act No. 38 of 2005. We remain confident that the majority of new proposals put forward by the regulator can certainly be implemented. operates within the current law, eliminating any need to completely change the law, they said.

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Cecil N. Messick