- Over 100 applications already received, first group of 8 selected
- SLTDA investing in Rs. 7 m in first phase
- Over 2,500 SLTDA registered entities
By Charumini de Silva
Sri Lanka Tourism has fast-tracked the issuance of the ‘Safe and Secure’ compliance certification to all Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) registered entities waiting to resume operations post-COVID-19.
“We have received over 100 applications for the compliance certificate. KPMG has selected eight hotels in Colombo for the first group and they have been now informed. By next week, KPMG will visit these eight establishments unannounced,” Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando told Daily FT.
SLTDA recently awarded KPMG Sri Lanka the contract to issue ‘Safe and Secure’ COVID-19 safety standard compliance certification to registered accommodation and service providers.
The compliance certification is open to all accommodation providers and travel agents registered with SLTDA — the regulatory and standards setting body of the industry.
As part of recovery efforts, the SLTDA will roll out this compliance certification process to enhance cleanliness and hygiene practices for 650 tourism-related entities and individuals covering service providers as well as activity/attraction places in the first phase currently in operation. SLTDA is investing over Rs. 7 million in the first phase and first assessment will be free of charge. If the free-of-charge first inspection is failed, the hotel will have to bear the cost second time.
The cost will vary depending on the sub category for the second time evaluation process. Sub categories include three-star hotels and above; one and two star hotels and tourist hotels; boutique hotels, villas and deluxe bungalows; guest houses; restaurants, tourists eating places and shops; travel agencies; tourist guides and drivers; attractions and activity places.
At present there are over 2,500 SLTDA registered entities.
“All tourists will be required to stay in COVID-19 health safety compliant accommodation, be it a five star hotel, resort or home-stays and their tours arranged by certified travel agents. Tourism establishments that pass the compliance assessment will be given a ‘Safe and Secure’ certificate and decals to display on their premises as a ‘trust mark’ of assurance to tourists. When tourism resumes, such certified parties will be given priority to conduct tourism services to international travellers,” she said.
In June, the Government decided to introduce a COVID-19 safety standard compliance certification for all SLTDA registered entities in a move to reassure tourists considering Sri Lanka for their next holiday post-pandemic.
SLTDA also presented the tourism operational guidelines in line with Health Protocols in consultation with all tourism stakeholders and under the guidance of Health Ministry and WHO. The audit firm will issue the compliance certification after strict inspection and auditing process under the purview of Health Ministry.
Sri Lanka’s tourism has been hit by COVID-19 with zero foreign travellers during the past four months of April, May, June and July. SLTDA data depicted the dismal “0” for tourist arrivals in these four months.
Zero figure for three consecutive months owing to the COVID-19 shutdown has forced first half cumulative tourist arrivals number to reflect a drastic 50% plunge to 507,311. The Government terminated arrival of all passenger flights and ships into Sri Lanka from 18 March.
The pandemic has caused a collapse in tourist arrivals particularly from Europe, a key source market, and the fear of travel to COVID-19-affected countries such as Sri Lanka has also led to significant cancellation of business and leisure events, tours and hotel bookings.