New emergency fund for tourism sector 

BY Dinitha Rathnayake 

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) is to set up an emergency fund for those involved in the tourism sector.

The Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has stated that he hopes to set up this fund to provide relief to those involved in the tourism industry in the event of a disaster. This emergency fund is to be established under the proposed new Tourism Act. Ranatunga further stated that the establishment of this new fund is in line with the proposed social security programme for the tourism sector.

He emphasised that the Government had implemented a special programme to protect those engaged in tourism during the Covid-19 pandemic. An allowance of Rs. 20,000 had been paid to registered guides of the SLTDA who were affected by Covid-19 and an allowance of Rs. 15,000 had been paid to registered tour guides at the provincial level and this allowance has already been paid to 2,575 registered tour guides. The amount paid is over Rs. 48 million. So far, 4,367 tour guides have been registered with the SLTDA.

In addition, a special programme is being implemented by the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management to register and train tourist guides, Ranatunga added.

Meanwhile, the tourism sector, which was hit hard by the pandemic, is now experiencing a gradual growth. As at last Saturday (19), the number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka is close to 150,000. The number of tourists who arrived in January was 82,327. A total of 65,674 tourists have visited the island in the last 19 days of this month.

During the last 19 days of January and February, the highest number of tourists arrived in Sri Lanka from Russia with 23,264 tourists having arrived in Sri Lanka from Russia this year while 19,593 have arrived from India.