- Promises strict action against any violators
- Warns certification status could be revoked if any hotel found guilty
By Charumini de Silva
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has urged hotels to strictly adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols, following the Health Ministry flagging off non-compliance.
As the regulatory body, SLTDA has formally cautioned all Level 1 accommodation providers, destination management companies (DMCs) and guides (national, chauffeur and area) in a letter dated 2 March that the authority will take severe action against those violating protocols in the best interest of the industry, stakeholders and the citizens of the country.
Health Services Director General Dr. Asela Gunawardena via a letter dated 24 February warned SLTDA that area MOHs have reported that international travellers visiting the country in many instances are not adhering the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry for tourism to secure the health status of the Sri Lankans.
“It is very disappointing to note this complaint from health authorities, especially after months of awareness and continuous reminders about complying responsibly with the guidelines and implementing bio-bubble concept for tourists under COVID conditions,” a top official told the Daily FT.
When asked, SLTDA also admitted that they have received several complaints about protocol violations by certain ‘Safe and Secure’ service providers.
“We have taken immediate action after conducting an independent inquiry. We have even suspended the certification status if proven guilty. We will continue to keep a close track of operations and if any violations of tourism operational and Health Ministry guidelines are reported and proven, the SLTDA will not hesitate to take strict action in the interest of the industry and all Sri Lankans,” the sources emphasised.
SLTDA called on the industry, particularly those in the frontline during the first crucial 14 days, to adhere to protocols as ‘Safe and Secure’-certified service providers to ensure all stakeholders act with responsibility and understand the COVID pandemic conditions under which everyone is operating.
“Take all measures and efforts to continuously remind staff and international travellers the importance of strictly following the health protocols and guidelines. It is the responsibility of all tourism industry stakeholders to ensure the safety of all to be able to revive the industry faster,” the sources pointed out.
As of mid-last month, there were 97 Level 1 hotels and 107 other hotels certified as 'Safe and Secure.' It accounts to 11,540 rooms, which is around 30% of the total room capacity in the country. On 21 January, when Sri Lanka re-opened borders and resumed international tourism, there were only 47 Level 1 ‘Safe and Secure’-certified hotels.