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Relief for tourism sector extended until 31st December: Minister

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The government has extended the relief package for loans and leasing facilities provided to those in the tourism sector affected by the Covid epidemic until the end of this year, stated Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga.

Further, he said that Covid vaccines will be administered to those in the tourism sector in the next few weeks.

Ranatunga says that discussions are underway with the relevant authorities in this regard.

“The government has been providing loans and leasing relief to those affected by the Covid epidemic in the tourism sector since last March. It is scheduled to end on the 31st of this month. Although the country has been reopened to tourists since last January, the government has decided to extend the concession as the tourism sector has not yet recovered,” the Minister said.

“Accordingly, the government has been requested to extend it till December 31 this year,” the Minister said.

The Minister made this observation at a discussion held recently to brief the representatives of the tourism organizations on the Global Promotion Programme that is expected to be implemented to promote Sri Lanka as an attractive tourist destination.

This is also the first time that a Minister in charge of the subject has participated in an event to educate the tourism industry about the Global Tourism Promotion Programme.

The meeting was held last Friday at the Tourist Hotel Management Auditorium.

“Since the opening of the country on January 21, more than 5,000 tourists have visited the country. Countries such as China, India, Germany and the United Kingdom, which are frequent visitors to Sri Lanka, have not yet granted travel permits to those countries. The Minister said that this situation has directly affected the tourism industry in the country and there are several practical problems in attracting tourists in accordance with health regulations. The health sector has not yet given its due approval to some of the issues agreed upon in the discussions between the health and tourism authorities,” he stated.

He said that he hopes to discuss the matter with the health sector in the future and obtain the relevant recommendations soon.

Speaking further, he said, “Over the next five years, $ 59 billion has been allocated for global tourism. Short, medium and long term programmes have been organized for this purpose. Several special promotions targeting China, England, Germany, France, Australia, Russia and the Middle East are expected this year. Another programme will be launched targeting countries such as the United States and Japan.”

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