Relief package to strengthen tourism sector | Daily News

Relief package to strengthen tourism sector

A moratorium will be announced by Central Bank to tourism sector
Tax concessions among wide range of measures to revive tourism sector
Working capital loans under ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’
Minister, John Amaratunge, State Minister Eran Wickramaratne and Finance Ministry Secretary, Dr. R. H. S. Samaratunge at the event. Picture by Gayan Pushpika
Minister, John Amaratunge, State Minister Eran Wickramaratne and Finance Ministry Secretary, Dr. R. H. S. Samaratunge at the event. Picture by Gayan Pushpika

The cabinet yesterday approved a ‘relief package’ to strengthen the tourism industry affected by the Easter Sunday attacks.

State Minister for Finance Eran Wickramaratne said that the Central Bank is now in the process of issuing circulars in this regard to banks.

The moratorium period will be until March 31, 2020 for both capital and interest payments granted to the tourism sector as of April 18, 2019.

Capital and interest falling during the moratorium period would be converted into a term loan which should be recovered from July 2020 and charged a concessionary rate.

Minister Wickramaratne said that under the Enterprise Sri Lanka Loan Schemes (Jaya Isura and Green Loan) over Rs. 15 billion has been already dispersed for tourism development projects. “Tourism sector loans shall also be considered on a case-by-case basis for this moratorium”.

Interest subsidy on Tourism loans registered on or before April 18, 2019 and granted before March 31, 2020 under “Enterprise Sri Lanka”, will be borne by the government.

Due to several requests from the industry working capital loans would also be provided with the repayment period of two years.

“This will have 75% interest subsidy borne by the government from the effective interest rate until March 31, 2020.

The interest will be at 3.4% as the government is giving a 75% interest subsidy”.

VAT on Tourism Sector too has been revised from 15% to 5% on hotels and tour operators registered with SLTDA from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. Addressing another request by both tourism and other sectors, government will also offer duty free import facilities (except for NBT) for Security Equipment. These include Hand held Metal Detectors, Walk-through Metal Detector, Baggage x-ray Inspection Equipment and Vehicle Scanners. State Minister however said that though there were requests to offer similar benefits for the leasing sector for vehicles this has not been considered as yet.

Meanwhile Minister of Tourism John Amaratunge said that tourism will bounce back in less than one year since 90% of the terrorism issue has been successfully neutralized. “Terrorism is nothing new and all countries that faced similar issue have recovered,” he added.

He also thanked the Finance Ministry for their swift and prompt action to come with an inceptive financial package for the industry. Minister emphasized that all these benefits would only be provided to tourism establishments who are registered with Sri Lanka Tourism.

Sri Lanka in talks with ADB to obtain financial assistance

Sri Lanka is currently in discussion with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other international agencies to obtain financial assistance to cushion the impact from Easter Sunday attacks on the economy, State Minister for Finance, Eran Wickramaratne said.

“We are already talking to ADB and other agencies in this regard,” he said.

The Minister commenting on SriLankan Airlines said that the national carrier along with several other international airlines would join into offer special tour packages and discounted air tickets to fly to Colombo, to attract visitors during this trying time.

Asked how SriLankan Airlines despite their negative financial situation could offer tickets at discounted rates the Minister said, that it would be a short-term measure and is for a national cause.

Asked by ‘Daily News’ if SriLankan could afford to pay a higher salary to the newly appointed Chief Commercial Officer, Joshua Bustos he said, this was a decision taken by the SriLankan Board under their restructuring plan. “The airline is to be benefitted through his expertise,” he said.

Rs. 464 mn for int’l tourism campaign

Sri Lanka Tourism will soon start its international PR campaign to rebuild Sri Lanka’s international image as a safe destination, following the Easter Sunday attacks.

Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bauru (SLTBP), Kishu Gomes answering a question by ‘Daily News’ said they will invest around Rs. 464 million for a short-term promotional campaign. “We have searched for an international agency and have picked a company. Its name has been forwarded to Cabinet for approval.” “We hope to obtain approval from the next cabinet meeting,” he added.



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