Strategic planning should be carried out in order to prevent the COVID19 virus from entering the society through tourists who visit the country whilst ensuring the prevention of the Virus from transmitting to the tourists from the community, said the Hon. Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga.
Accordingly, the Minister stated that health regulations should always be followed and steps should be taken to vaccinate the people of this country as a practical measure against the aforesaid concern.
The Minister emphasized on the above taking into consideration the time-consuming factor faced by tourists having to undergo PCR tests and a long quarantine period upon arrival.
Thus, measures have been put into effect in order to vaccinate 57% of the total population by March, said the Minister at the Consultative Committee on Tourism which met yesterday (09).
Hon. Member of Parliament Waruna Liyanage brought to light the issue related to the Dahaiyagala Elephant Pass in Udawalawe located between the Udawalawe National Park and the Bogahapitiya proposed Forest Reserve, identified as a place of importance as it is a decisive route for elephants. The MP pointed out that as a result, elephants in the said forest reserve are under threat due to the illicit clearing of these areas.
In consideration of the above, Minister Prasanna Ranatunga emphasized that elephants are a resource for the country’s tourism industry and that the forests and the wildlife should be protected which are major tourist attractions.
Hon. Member of Parliament Udayana Kirindigoda, commenting at the committee stated that tourists often obtain information about the country through various websites regarding hotels and lodging in particular, associated with various tourist destinations. However, the MP stated that information provided on these sites are not updated and below the level of satisfaction. The MP was of the view that although quality information and photographs of hotels and lodges have been published on websites, in practice this is not the case and as a result the reputation of the country is being tarnished.
Agreeing with the aforesaid, Hon. Members of Parliament Geetha Kumarasinghe and Diana Gamage stated that the tourism sector can be developed further by issuing a license or certificate after reviewing the publications on the sites regarding hotels and lodges with its practical status.
Hon. Members of Parliament such as Chandima Weerakkody, Geetha Kumarasinghe and Manusha Nanayakkara expressed their views on tourism development in the Galle District. Minister Prasanna Ranatunga instructed the officials of the Tourism Development Authority to call upon a separate meeting to discuss the development of tourism in the Southern Province including Galle for the purpose of the above.
When inquired by the Minister of Tourism regarding the progress related to the development of tourism in the Batticaloa District, the State Secretary Mr. Madhava Devasurendra said that the development process has already been implemented in consultation with the relevant parties.
The Annual Report of the Tourism Development Authority for the year 2018, the Annual Report of the Tourism Development Fund for the year 2018 and the Annual Report of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau for the year 2018 were presented at the meeting. The Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga stated that the needful to obtain approval will be carried out on this regard.
The Consultative Committee of Tourism was chaired by Hon. Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga. Hon. State Minister D. V. Chanaka, Hon. Members of Parliament Geetha Kumarasinghe, Manusha Nanayakkara, Udayana Kirindigoda, Jayantha Ketagoda, Dr. Upul Galappaththi, M. Udayakumar, Diana Gamage, Gunathilake Rajapaksa, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Sampath Athukorala, Sivagnanam Sritharan and government officials also marked their presence.