Many business organizations and leaders in the tourism industry are concerned over the new tourism bill that the government is trying to bring in. Among the leaders who are protesting is Mr Thilak Weerasinghe , father – in – law, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Namal Rajapaksa.
He is currently the President of the Inbound Tour Operators Association of Sri Lanka and is a leading tourism businessman in the country. The association and the The Hotelier’s Associiation , another leading tourism business organization in the country, have stated that the new draft tourism bill that is currently being drafted will have disastrous consequences.
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga recently introduced the new bill for cabinet approval, and the new bill proposes to merge the three existing institutions, the Tourism Development Authority, the Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, into a single entity.
It has been proposed through the new Act to combine the three institutions to create an institution called the Sri Lanka Tourism Authority. Although this action plan has been formulated in line with the 2021 budget proposals presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister last year, these leading tourism organizations emphasize that abrupt changes to the Act will not have any effect in the current situation.
Speaking at the media briefing, Thilak Weerasinghe, President of the Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators Association, the father of in law of Minister Namal Rajapaksa, said that the private sector had made a significant contribution to the development of tourism in Sri Lanka before the outbreak of the Covid epidemic.
He said there was no need to change the existing Tourism Act in making this contribution. Accordingly, he said, it would be more appropriate for us to take the necessary steps to over come the current challenges within the existing institutional framework and overcome the current challenges.