Published on : Thursday, August 30, 2018
John Amaratunga, Tourism Development Minister of Sri Lanka yesterday urged for tariff reductions from the Government to attain the target of 4.5 million tourist arrivals by 2020, maintaining that high tax structures and extraneous charges were restraining the industry from achieving higher growth.
“If the country is looking at tourism as the highest income earner, then we have to have be more competitive in our tax structures, particularly on reducing the landing charges, fuelling charges and airport charges, which is currently very high compared to the South East Asian countries,” he told journalists in Colombo.
The Minister highlighted that an appraisal is being done on how Sri Lanka can decrease landing charges, fuelling charges and airport charges.
“This is being very seriously considered. Very unfortunately the national carrier has also priced itself very high to some of the key destinations that tourism is coming from as well as to South Asian countries such as Bangladesh,” he added. Besides, Amaratunga stated that the Government was reconsidering the suggestion to offer visa-free facilities for select markets to draw overseas travel traffic to Sri Lanka.
“The Prime Minister is working on it. Although we have FTAs with some of the regional countries, not everyone is reciprocating the same. ”
“Therefore, the Prime Minister wants to do a study on which countries are to be given that privilege of being provideda free visa. Gradually we are falling in line with some regional countries like Vietnam where they offer free visas for travellers,” he stressed.