The Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) has welcomed the government decision to open up the airports for commercial operations this week and was elated that 3 million jobs, both direct and indirect employment opportunities, will be reinstated.
“We are very happy to note that the Government has decided to re-open Sri Lanka for Tourism from this week. This will benefit the approximately 3 million dependents of the tourism industry with direct and indirect employment”, said Mahen Kariyawasam, immediate past Chairman of SLAITO said yesterday, January 18.
Mr. Kariyawasam, who is also the Chairman of the ‘One Industry, One Voice’ also said:
“The opening of Tourism was via the Pilot Project from December -January was a good learning curve for all of us.
There can be issues when we are working in this new Bio Bubble, but we must correct ourselves and move forward in the New Normal. Tourism business will not be the same as it was before. But our main concern should be to abide by the rules and regulations of the Ministry of Health and safeguard our citizens.
There will not be a sudden influx of tourists into the country as we open due to various factors.
The lockdown in most European countries will slow down the arrivals but on the other hand the good news is that the Covid Vaccine is now administered in many countries. We will also have to look into new markets such as Eastern Europe, Korea and other Asian Countries.
The appointment of group veteran industry leaders to the De- Regularization Committee by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was also another good move for the industry as there are many Administration issues of getting permits/licenses, etc., which hamper the smooth running of our industry. I am sure when their hurdles are cleared it will be an encouragement for more persons to join our industry.
We are today united as ‘one industry – one voice’ which was an initiative by SLAITO to bring together all tourism stakeholders and support the government to move forward the tourism industry, and to help the Government.”
News reports have quoted former Sri Lanka Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga as having said that there have been over 1,500 Ukranian tourists who have stayed for more than 10 days each, where they have spent between US $ 120 and 150 per day per room and where they have spent over US 100 per day. The total earnings in three weeks have been US$ 2.22 million (Rs. 420 million).