ECONOMYNEXT – Authorities in Sri Lanka have once again promised legal action against hotels and accommodation facilities that discriminate against Sri Lankan nationals as tourism resumes in the island nation with month-on-month arrival numbers growing.
In a notice issued on Tuesday (18), the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said it will cancel the licenses “foreigners only” hotels and other places that bar access to Sri Lankans.
“We have received complaints regarding discriminatory practices followed by some tourist establishments against Sri Lankan citizens and have taken action in this regard,” the SLTDA statement said.
“Should there be a formal complaint and found to have been discriminatory, we would not hesitate to suspend or cancel license, including informing travelers and notifying online travel agencies to abstain from taking bookings (sp).”
“Foreigners only” hotels and guest houses have been in operation in Sri Lanka for some years now, with many holidaymakers in the island complaining of facing discrimination particularly on the southern coast. Hotel owners, however, insist that this was because some Sri Lankan tourists have a tendency to misbehave or violate accepted social norms when holidaying in their properties.
The SLTDA in its statement has also urged local tourists to behave responsibly and to adhere to the establishment’s requirements.
“Tourist establishments could make complaints against such guests who neither care for the property nor adhere to stated requirements of the establishments and SLTDA will take necessary action against such guests,” the authority said.
This is not the first time the state has intervened in the matter.
In 2018, when the tourism sector was at its all time best, then Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faizer Musthapha called it a “violation of the constitution, human rights and confronts the dignity and self-respect of Sri Lankans”.
Musthafa said tourist facilities that were found to be discriminative towards Sri Lankan holidaymakers would be prosecuted under the common law and tourism law and that their trade permits would be withdrawn.
Sri Lanka has welcomed 44,000 travels to the country in January (as of January 16) ,indicating an encouraging growth in numbers for a sector that was devastated by the pandemic.
When the country was closed for international tourists, it was the domestic holidaymakers that kept the battered hospitality sector running.
Sri Lanka is targeting some 100,000 tourists per month this year. (Colombo/Jan19/2022)