Speaking at the re launch of Sri Lanka Tourism awards after a lapse of six years he also said that they were in the process of introducing several new entertainment options to the Colombo city to woo more travelers to Colombo. He said that in a bid to encourage this they will also bring in a new tax incentive scheme. Chairman City Hotels Association Shanthi Kumar said that they have had meetings in this regard with SLTDA and are working towards this. He also added that they are keen to do away with the informal tourism sector, which he considers as illegal sector to provide better security for tourists.
Meanwhile Minister of Tourism John Amaratunge said that if the country does not have major natural disasters, epidemics and people remain calm they would be able to attract 2.6 million arrivals in 2018 and 3.5 million for 2019.“We are looking at revenue in the excess of US$ 5.9 billion for 2018 end and 6.5 billion for 2019 end and a target of US$ 7 billion for 2020.
He said that there are issues of delays at the Colombo international airport and also lack of capacity for new airlines to fly to Colombo. “We hope to address these issues soon and also request airlines to patronize the Mattala international airport as well.” He also said that the tourism promotional budget running in to several million US dollars would be forwarded for Cabinet approval this month and it should be active from September. “We will only use funds generated from the Industry (CESS) for this.”
Leading business personality Kishu Gomes has been appointed as the head of the Judging committee along with Otara Gunawardane., head of EDB, Indira Malwatte, Chandra Mohotti and Rajeeva Meewenwell. There would be 50 awards presented on December 8 at the tourism awards ceremony.