The Sri Lankan Tourism Ministry has over 2,500 acres of land with clear title available for both local and foreign investors said State Minister of Tourism Promotion Arundika Fernando yesterday.He said that these lands can be immediately dispersed for investors on a 30 year lease agreement by the Ministry approval. “However if an investor needs the land for a longer period of lease we can arrange Cabinet approval for it.”
However a proper project proposal should be present when requesting for land and eco-friendly and environmental and practices should be maintained.”These lands are available at Kalpitiya, Dedduwa and Kuchaveli integrated Tourism Zones. In addition more land is available at different locations. He said assistance of provincial Governors too would be used to ensure speedy disposal of lands to investors.
The Minister said that a five year tourism development plan is in place approved by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to woo 7 million tourists and US$ 10 million revenue. “We are working towards these targets.”The plan to redevelop domestic airports would continue and priority would be given to commence domestic scheduled flights linking Mattala Jaffna and Batticaloa. “Special tax incentives would be provided for investors and tax on facers and fuel too would be reduced.”
He said that both the Colombo airport and Colombo Fort Railway station would offer more facilities for tourist. “We are currently working with the Sri Lanka Railway to introduce an App so that tourists can book online and avoid long queues at the Fort Railway station when purchasing tickets”We will also talk to each Indian provincial Tourism Ministers in a bid to promote Ramayana Trial to the Indian travelers in a more organized manner.”
He also said that investments would be made from the Ministry coffers to re develop the Sigiriya Cultural museum which was neglected. “This would be done through foreign aid and it will be with modern technology.”He disclosed that they will soon allow schoolchildren to enter Sigiriya free. Plans to redevelop hotel school with an international University were also spelled out.
Tourism promotion funds misappropriated -Arundika
There has been a lot of misappropriation of funds during tourism promotions in the last few years and a committee must be appointed to probe them, State Minister of Tourism Promotion Arundika Fernando said yesterday.
He said that the previous tourism promotions were not focused and they were merely ‘joy’ rides for Ministers, advisers and tourism officials and there were hardly any results. “Public and Tourism Development Levy were wasted on these and we have to relook at some of these expenses.”
Fernando said that a more lively and catching promotion campaign should come and in place of the depleted ‘So Sri Lanka’ slogan something like ‘Land Like No Other’ should be reintroduced . “Sri Lanka Tourism will also request Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry to press for Sri Lanka Foreign Mission overseas to assign two officers, one for promotions and other for marketing in major tourism markets (like India, Germany, France China and London).” Online marketing too would be a key thrust marketing area.
He said that each year through embarkation tax, hotel levies and other forms, several billions are added to tourism, these are not properly used and once Rs 1.5 billion had been sent back to the treasury.
“This must be stopped and we have to use these funds productively.”
SriLankan should recommence flights to Paris, Frankfurt- minister
The government must re commence direct SriLankan airline flights to Paris and Frankfurt as soon as possible State Minister of Tourism Promotion Arundika Fernando said yesterday.
“This is a priority for the development of Sri Lanka’s Tourism sector.”
Fernando a former employee of Sri Lankan airlines said that SriLankan catering, ground handling and Engineering are all making profits. “It’s true that SriLankan passenger operations are running at a loss. But I don’t think that two additional non daily basis flights to Frankfurt and Paris can’t cost the airline a huge additional loss.”
He said that SriLankan too should make some sacrifices taking in to account the benefits of these two routes to the tourism sector.Fernando however said that if the airline incurs a loss from these two routs SriLankan Tourism is ready to pay for this loss.“This will be done through the proceeds from TD