A large number of proposals have been introduced in the 2018 budget to enhance the tourism sector of Sri Lanka. New measures have been introduced with the aim to facilitate the growing tourism industry which remains a vibrant sector.
Sri Lanka’s tourism arrivals are expected to increase by almost three fold to 4.5 million by 2020 as the country has much to offer given its natural beauty, heritage, cuisine, and culture.
The budget is seeking Rs. 565 million for the proposals to develop the tourism sector.
The increasing tourists warrant extra rooms apart from the hotel rooms that are already being constructed. In this context, mechanisms such as the Homestay program will be encouraged. A special credit facility will be introduced to Upgrade such facilities allocating Rs. 10 million.
The budget has allocated Rs. 250 million to develop 6 Forts in Matara, Hambantota, Batticaloa, Fort Fredrick in Trincomalee, Mannar Fort/Doric House and in Kalpitiya in collaboration with the Archeological Department and the private sector.
The railway stations such as Nanu Oya, Colombo Fort, Galle and Ella will be declared as Archeological sites and modernized to give a better rail commuter experience preserving its original architectural identity in collaboration with the private sector. Rs. 75 million has been earmarked for this project.
The domestic airports at Sigiriya, Batticaloa, China Bay and Koggala will be developed as PPP’s to support tourism.
It has been proposed to allocate Rs. 75 million to develop the Maduru Oya and Gal Oya National Parks to support high end safaris etc. The Park rangers will be capacitated to support not only conservation and protection functions but also those related to tourism, as well.
Three street festivals and exhibitions will be held in Los Angeles, London and Mumbai during the coming year to coincide with Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence celebration. This will be done in collaboration with the private sector at a cost of Rs. 50 million.
In keeping with the vision to make Sri Lanka a Shopping hub, a VAT refund scheme for foreign passport holders will be implemented at the Airports and Sea Ports with effect from 01st May 2018.
The SLTDA and SLTPB will initiate a program to introduce a “Tourist Friendly tuk tuk” where the “tuk tuk” drivers will be trained in collaboration with the hospitality industry, to be tourist guides and register them with the Bureau. The government seeks Rs. 50 million for the project.
The budget proposes to allocate Rs. 25 million to establish the three wheeler regulatory authority and regulations have already been issued to make meters mandatory for all.