Tourism Minister thanks industry stakeholders for supporting tourists during Kandy violence

Thursday, 22 March 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga yesterday said that the recent violence in Kandy caused a negative impact on the tourism industry. 

Addressing an event held at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) auditorium where modern equipment was handed over to the Tourist Police Division, the Minister said the tourism sector at large and its affiliated industries worked efficiently to mitigate its damage. 

“I must particularly thank the hospitality industry. They ensured that the tourists were not stranded in the city. Some of them even allowed tourists to occupy their hotels free of charge until the violence ended. The Police too acted efficiently to ensure the safety of tourists. Tourists were allowed to use their passports as curfew passes,” the Minister said, commending everyone who contributed to this process.  However, the Minister said that the industry should adopt a comprehensive contingency plan to deal with such incidents in the future. 

“We need to make Sri Lanka a safer place for tourists. Some countries that are not on par with Sri Lanka in terms of natural beauty and cultural heritage still have better ‘numbers and statistics’. We need to find out why they attract more tourists than us. Safety of the tourists visiting Sri Lanka plays a vital role in increasing our numbers,” the Minister added. 

“The Tourist Police Division is the key institution when it comes to ensuring safety of tourists. We are committed to provide them with better facilities and better infrastructure. Last year, Rs. 50 million was allocated to strengthen the Tourist Police Division,” he said. 

The minister said these budgetary allocations were used to purchase modern equipment for the Tourist Police Division. He assured that the Ministry would go an extra-mile to strengthen the Tourist Police Division as it played a crucial role in shaping Sri Lanka’s global image as a tourist destination. 

“Another problem affecting the tourism industry is the large number of protests and demonstrations taking place on a daily basis. Sometimes, we, the lawmakers, cannot even attend Parliamentary sessions as they conduct demonstrations blocking our way. One can easily understand the inconvenience they cause to the tourists visiting the country. I urge the Police authorities to arrange a specific location for protests so that the others can do their work without inconvenience,” he added. 

IGP Pujith Jayasundara, who also addressed the event, said the entire Police force must understand the strategic importance of the Tourist Police Division and extend their fullest support to the officers involved in it. 

“Protecting our tourists is one of the key duties of the Police force,” the IGP said, thanking the Tourism Ministry and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority for handing over modern equipment to the Tourist Police Division. 

Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Ministry Secretary Esala Weerakoon, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Kavan Ratnayaka, SLTDA Acting Director General Upali Rathnayake and senior Police officers also attended the event.