SLTPB doubles tour operator incentive to boost tourist arrivals

Wednesday, 17 July 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A local vendor tries to sell handmade items to tourists at Dutch Fort in 

Galle – Reuters 

By Charumini de Silva

The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) is rolling out an initiative to double the incentive provided for inbound tour operators to $ 10 per traveller, in a bid to encourage them to increase tourist traffic and promote the destination following the Easter Sunday setback.

The promotion agency will provide $ 10 per tourist the tour operators bring into the country, which will be funded by the 2019 Budget approved for SLTPB. Previously $ 5 per tourist was paid.

“We will soon call Expression of Interest (EOIs) for our inbound tour operators program,” SLTPB Chairman Kishu Gomes told Daily FT.

He said the program was active in the past, but was discontinued and was being reactivated due to requests from tour agents especially aftermath of Easter Sunday terror attacks.“Given the circumstances we have now doubled the incentive from $ 5 to $ 10 per tourist the operators bring into the country,” Gomes added.

He said Rs. 250 million had been allocated for this program and depending on the feedback they receive from tour agents, they had the capacity to even further expand the investment allocated in line with industry demands.

Shedding more light on the selection process for this program, the SLTPB Chief also said the applications would be scrutinised in line with a criteria set by a working committee which comprised both promotion agency officials and industry veterans.

Tour operators who bring over 1,000 tourists to the country annually are eligible for the program.

A tourist is estimated to spend around $ 2,000 in Sri Lanka per stay, according to official statistics.

He noted that tourist arrivals on average had picked up significantly over the past few months.

“From an average of 945 tourist arrivals per day in May, which is the lowest this year, it has now increased to 3,700 per day. This is a remarkable improvement given it’s also our lean period,” Gomes pointed out. 

Considering the safety measures taken by the Government and tourism authorities, Sri Lanka Tourism officials recently expressed confidence about welcoming around 2.1 to 2.3 million tourists by the end of the year.