Friday, 6th August 2021

Tourism industry cries foul over additional taxes

HT Agency

Sri Lanka: Tourism industry representatives lament they have been asked to pay up to 1 percent municipal or Provincial Council tax depending on the location, in addition to high taxes they are already paying.

This was highlighted by President THASL, Sanath Ukwatte at the annual general meeting at Shangri-La Hotel Colombo on Wednesday. “We have been singled out by this unfair levy,” he added.

“In addition to this, the informal sector and global players like Airbnb who do not pay any taxes also eat into our business and there is no level playing field,” he claimed.

“In the past one year we have held five meetings with the Minister of Tourism, to address beach boy issues, selling of liquor by unlicensed establishments in key areas where our member hotels are located, to address the threats faced by us from the informal sector.”

“Unfortunately, this too has become a very political issue as the Minister is supporting us on this issue,” he said.

“With regards to the informal sector, subsidized loans for refurbishment of hotels and lowering of indirect taxes are some of the main issues we have taken up with the Minister of Finance and we are hopeful that some sort of relief will come out in the forthcoming budget”.

“I am sure most of us are very concerned about our industry’s positioning in the international markets and our representatives of SLTPB have made great progress in bringing our concerns to the attention of the minister and the decision makers and they have made some progress in this field. The SLTPB has ensured that the digital marketing drive will come into action early next year and we are making every effort to put pressure on the Government to roll out this campaign as fast as possible.”

Another important issue we decided to address is the issue of human resources. With 6500 new rooms coming into the market in the next couple of years and 22,000 rooms already in operation. We need at least 250,000 trained employees by 2020.

THASL is accounting for around 11.5% of Sri Lanka’s GDP, is the second largest net foreign exchange earner to the country.

“However, a successful tourism industry cannot be achieved by any single organisation. It needs a collective vision and the support of all stakeholders, especially the Government and the general public,” said Ukwatte, who has been unanimously elected to serve a third term in office.

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