Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) has rejected a request by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) to increase the tour guide fee to $35 per day.
“We are surprised that SLTDA is proposing such an increase at a time of crisis like this, when the entire industry has come to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all engaged in the industry are taking pay cuts,” SLAITO President Mahen Kariyawasam told the Daily FT.
At present, the tour guides get a minimum of Rs. 2,500 per day, in addition to meals and accommodation, while they are on tour.
Depending on the language skills and categories specialised, the tour guide fee can be higher than Rs. 2,500. The hike was proposed at the SLTDA Board meeting this week, and the industry shot it down as financially impossible. The National Tour Guide Lecturers Association comes under the purview of SLTDA. "The tourism industry has been suffering from the double blow of the Easter Sunday attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many burning issues to be solved and we simply can't afford to pay the proposed increased fee," Kariyawasam added.
Kariyawasam said the industry is in a dire situation with no proper business on the horizon, and it was an unfair proposal by Sri Lanka Tourism to push them to make such a commitment.
Up on rejection of the proposal, SLTDA has requested SLAITO to reason it out in writing.