Feb 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Mahinda Amaraweera recently held discussions with the owners of whale watching boats in Mirissa on the charges for whale watching trips.
According to the Ministry of Fisheries, the sea area around Mirissa and Kapparatota Fishery harbors are hugely inhabited by whales and a large number of foreign tourists come to these areas for whale watching. They are transported by fishing vessels and charged Rs. 6000 per person for a single trip.
During the discussion the Minister mentioned it is unreasonable to charge Rs. 6000 from a foreign tourist and he had received many complaints regarding the excessive charge.
A single foreign tourist is charged Rs 6000 and Rs 2000 out of the sum is paid to the boat owner and boat rider keeps the remainder.
The Minister pointed out that since foreigners are given no special privileges, it is unreasonable to charge a higher fee from them.
He requested the boat owners not to swindle the foreign tourists visiting Sri Lanka since it will harm the reputation of the country and the tourism industry and reduce the boat fee charged from a foreigner to at least to Rs 4000 from Rs. 6000.
Also, the Ministry has planned to initiate a Green Harbor centering Mirissa and Kapparatota harbors and an attractive multi-story building will be established as a tourist center under an estimated cost of Rs 500 million, the Minister said. Seafood centers will also be established in this tourist center which will be operated by Ceylon Fishery Harbours Corporation (CFHC) ensuring the comfort of foreign tourists.