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Thursday July 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka to urgently adopt new permanent tourism policy: minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has formulated a new permanent tourism policy that does not change with government or personnel, to be presented in two weeks, Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said.

Speaking to reporters on Monday August 14, Fernando said the policy will be presented urgently.

A statement from the President’s Media Division (PMD) said the policy was prepared after extensive study by experts in the field and has been forwarded to the cabinet.

Tourism in Sri Lanka has seen marked improvement since the 2022 financial crisis and the political unrest it triggered. The country earned 219 million US dollars from 143,039 tourists who visited in July 2023, up from 85 million US dollars in 2022, official data showed.


Sri Lanka earns US$219mn from 143,000 tourist in July 2023

Fernando has attributed the recovery in tourism to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s economic recovery programme, which Fernando said is an awakening for the industry.

“Development of the tourism sector can be pointed out as a major approach to solve the dollar crisis in the country. There is a humble happiness about the progress made today compared to the state of the tourism sector a year ago. President Wickramasinghe is making a great contribution to uplifting the country’s tourism industry. We should promote it more,” Fernando was quoted as saying.

“Sri Lanka is a very beautiful country. But no one has yet understood the value of its beauty. This country is a treasure. We have not yet thought about how to use it. The president’s plan is to bring about the necessary change in attitude,” he said.

Fernando said the authorities have already put in place a programme to make Sri Lanka a more attractive destination for tourists but added that “many practical problems” remain to be addressed.

An initiative is also on the cards to reduce the existing traffic in places that have gained tourist attraction in the country, he said, adding that another programme has been planned to ensure the safety of tourists together with the Ministry of Public Security.

A mobile application for the convenience of tourists and a formal programme to prevent various irregularities faced by foreign tourists are also going to be implemented, the PMD quoted Fernando as saying.

Explaining the new tourism policy, he said: “The tourism industry needs a national policy that does not change when governments and politicians change. The country’s tourism policy cannot change when the minister changes. After a thorough analysis, we have forwarded a new policy for tourism that was prepared by experts in the field to the cabinet. We will present to the country how it will work, within the next two weeks.”

“The challenge we had so far was to bring tourists to Sri Lanka. A challenge in the future is going to be how to maintain the quality of the tourism industry. Employees in the hotel industry in Sri Lanka leave for foreign jobs as soon as they get their first service certificate. Then another person is hired for it. I observe this situation as a big problem in the hotel industry in this country. We are taking immediate steps to solve that and other problems in the field as well,” said Fernando.

Sri Lanka also plans to hold an annual short film festival on attractive locations of Sri Lanka targeting tourists, the minister said. The best 10 short films selected by a jury comprising industry experts will be rewarded financially along with formal training, he said.

Meanwhile, a luxury hotel in the Hilton Hotel chain is scheduled to be opened by the president on August 19 in the Yala national park area, after which a series of tourism promotion programmes are to be launched, said Fernando. (Colombo/Aug15/2023)

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Sri Lanka to conduct threat assessments for presidential candidates

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has submitted a cabinet paper proposing security measures for presidential candidates and former presidents, following the recent attack on former US President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in the USA.

“This proposal suggests the appointment of a committee to conduct threat assessments and provide necessary security for Presidential candidates as well as former Presidents,” a statement from his media division said.

The committee will include the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security as Chair, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of National Intelligence, and the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police/Elections.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police will be appointed to oversee all security arrangements.

The committee and the designated officer will work closely with the Election Commission to ensure seamless coordination of security arrangements, the PMD said.

After today, July 17, Sri Lanka’s Election Committee is empowered to announce a date for the presidential polls due to be held this year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry has said the election will be held on October 5 or 12.

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) have said that the government should be accountable for the security of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the SJB’s presidential candidate. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes flat at 303.80/304.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed almost flat at 303.80/304.00 to the US dollar on Wednesday, from 303.70/304.00 to the US dollar on Tuesday, dealers said, while bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.60/75 percent, down from 10.82/92 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.60/38 percent, down from 11.65/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.72/78 percent, down from 11.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.05/10 percent, down from 12.05/20 percent. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down, John Keells, Hemas, Hayleys push turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Wednesday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed down 0.41 percent, or 48.44 points, at 11,830; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.52 percent, or 17.91 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was 1.2 million. A big part of this (Rs597mn) came from John Keells Holdings Plc (down at 194.25).

“There was foreign buying interest on John Keells and Hemas,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“We saw foreign interest in selective counters persist.”

Hemas Holdings Plc contributed Rs143mn to the turnover, and the share closed down at 81.10.

Hayleys Plc contributed Rs156mn to the turnover, and the share closed up at 101.50.

The three crossings made up 67 percent of the turnover.

The capital goods counters, with all the bluechips, was the leading sector contributing to the day’s turnover.

With the exception of Hayleys and a couple of other companies, the counter saw most stocks close down or flat.

Sentiment around the banking counters also remained negative.

“The volatility in investor sentiments persisted. There are a lot of spectators in the market over the last few weeks, despite some positive news coming in.”

Treasury bill and bond rates have also dropped.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Melstacorp Plc (up at 86.00), SMB Finance Plc (up at 0.70), and TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 40.00).

There was a net foreign inflow of 392 million. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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