Aug 14, Colombo: Tourism Development Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has instructed the Secretary to the Ministry to expedite the provision of relief to those in the tourism industry affected by the COVID-19 epidemic as the restrictions imposed by the Elections Commission on the provision of relief are now over.
Tourism Minister giving his first advice after assuming duties yesterday (13) instructed the Ministry Secretary to finalize the relevant payments and other matters within the next few weeks.
The government has decided to provide an allowance of Rs. 20,000 to tour guides and Rs. 15,000 to tourist drivers affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. During the election period, the Chairman of Election Commission ordered the Secretary to the Ministry to limit the amount to Rs. 10,000.
State Minister of Aviation and Export Processing Zones DV Chanaka also assumed duties yesterday. After assuming duties, the Cabinet Minister and the State Minister also attended a press conference.
Minister Ranatunga stated that the Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake is expected to open to tourists soon.
The Minister noted that the tourism industry in Sri Lanka collapsed due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The President’s policy statement ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor’ has given more attention tourism sector. According to government policies, the collapsed tourism industry will be rehabilitated expeditiously, Ranatunga said.
“We made the necessary plans for that. We have introduced a special program through the Cabinet to provide relief to those engaged in the tourism industry due to the COVID- 19 epidemic. Although it was delayed due to the election, it is now being reactivated. The restrictions imposed by the Commissioner of Elections are now over. We will expedite the provision of government approved relief to those engaged in the tourism sector. We have already given the necessary instructions to the Secretary to the Ministry.”
The Minister assured that the airport will be opened soon to tourists in compliance with the health guidelines as soon as the repatriation of foreign workers is completed. He said the airport can be opened within 24 hours after the go-ahead from the health sector is received.
Minister of State for Aviation and Export Processing Zone Development DV Chanaka said the main responsibility is to make the President’s vision of prosperity a reality
He said with the current situation in the world, a serious crisis has arisen in this sector. “Our country has become number one in corona control. We are working to revive the tourism and aviation sector. In the recent past many institutions under this Ministry collapsed. There was a situation of job loss. We are rebuilding this sector and formulating a job creation program.”
S. Hettiarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism and Mapa Pathirana, Former Secretary to the Ministry of Industrial Export Investment Promotion were also present.