Ministry of Tourism Development, Wildlife & Christian Religious Affairs

Tourism Minister assures tour guides quick return to normalcy

Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga held a meeting with tour guide lecturers and chauffer guide lecturers at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management recently.

The meeting was part of a full day programme arranged by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority for tour guides in order to apprise them of the improving security situation following the Easter Sunday attacks, the recovery plan for the tourism industry and to inform them of the relief measures introduced by the government.

The tour guides and guide lecturers who are totally dependent on tourism for their livelihood are among the hardest hit by the Easter Sunday attacks which has resulted in an overnight drop in tourist arrivals by nearly 70 percent.

Speaking during the programme Minister Amaratunga acknowledged the spontaneous response of the tour guides to assist the authorities in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, where they provided their services voluntarily on gratis basis.

The Minister explained that although the relief package proposed by the Finance Ministry covered the industry as a whole he had made representations to extend it to cover individuals who were directly affected as well.

He emphasized that the top priority at present was to engage with the foreign representatives in the country and convince them to either revoke or down grade the adverse travel advisories as the defence authorities were confident that the threat has now been fully neutralized and the entire country was safe for tourists to visit. He expressed optimism that with normalcy being restored the industry could recover in a few months. He said that both a short term and long term publicity campaign will be launched in all key markets to promote Sri Lanka as a safe destination for travel.

Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Upali Ratnayake thanked the tour guides for going out of their way during the crisis period to help tourists who were in the country at the time with their immediate requirements and travel plans. He assured that SLTDA will do its utmost to revive the industry in the shortest possible time as none of the country’s tourism assets were affected by the attacks.

CEO of SLAITO, Wing Commander Kumuda Eramugolla made a presentation on the new security threats and how to overcome them including handling a crisis situation.