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Sri Lanka Tourism dominated by ‘vested interests’ of Colombo-based associations, say provincial service providers

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

All Ceylon Tourism Service Providers Association (ACTSPA) told The Island Financial Review that three Colombo-based private sector tourism associations occupying seats on the Board of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority SLTDA, are not helping to make policies that harness the synergies of provincial level stakeholders to foster sustainable tourism at national level.

Suranjith Wevita, Secretary ACTSPA said that provincial-level travel agents, hoteliers in the informal sector, tourist guides, tourist vehicle owners, drivers, assistants, various expert experience-providers in adventure, safari, wellness/nature and heritage and other members of ACTSPA, seek ‘fair play’ against the ‘vested’ interests of the three private sector associations whom they say are not sensitive to the issues of core service providers in different tourist zones of the country.

“Tourism is a multi-service industry which requires the synergies of all stakeholders that make different offerings to foreign visitors in order to make their visits to Sri Lanka a memorable experience and get them to spread the word globally on social media platforms. To achieve this objective, there should be a lawful mechanism to ensure balance in decision making for all stakeholders and not just for a privileged few,” he said.

“Tourism is global sustainable industry on global norms on socio-economic sustainability and environmental sustainability. These sustainable criteria are monitored and governed by agencies such as Global Sustainable Tourism Council which is connected to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environmental Organisation (UNEO). In this context, discerning foreign visitors are keen to see that there are equitable dividends for all service providers in any country that they visit. Sri Lanka Tourism which is obviously controlled by SLAITO, TAASL and THASL have little regard for these global concepts and new trends in tourism.” he said.

“SLAITO and TAASL represent less than 30 % of destination management companies (DMCs) and high-end hotel association THASL represents only 5% of all rooms in the industry, yet they have a bigger say in making decisions that affect all of us. Tourism Act No. 38 of 2005 made provisions for these associations to take the upper hand over a myriad of other stakeholders in the industry and this has created an imbalance of the entire industry’s synergistic effort,” he said.

He further said:

“Even daily wages of guides, drivers and other service providers are decided by them violating global sustainable criteria, in the sole interest of making more profits for their companies. The. revenue generated towards SLTDA through the Tourism Development Levy of 1% charged from hotels and from part of embarkation tax is used to promote their travel agents and hotels through two agencies under SLTDA; namely Sri Lanka Tourism Convention Bureau and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau. That’s another unfair practice.”

“They objected to increasing vehicle rates needed to operate within present higher costs and also objected to providing income support to a section of the service providers during the pandemic citing various reasons, as a result of which a large expert-workforce permanently left the industry. They even introduced unreasonable registration criteria to prevent small stakeholders from registering with the SLTDA.”

“UNDP, the European Union and the present administration of SLTDA having considered these anomalies had consultations with all ‘other stakeholders’ and came up with a new draft bill for Sri Lanka Tourism. It is designed to give representation to all service sectors by creating regional tourism chambers to address issues of all stakeholders and streamline different geographic requirements in different tourism zones. The bill has also clauses governing the decentralization of business registration process from the central control of the Colombo-based associations.”

“The bill also encourages fair trade policies to ensure earnings for all stakeholders in the service chain commensurate with their services, which has hitherto not been a practice in Sri Lanka tourism industry where some got the lion’s share while others were paid pea nuts.”

“The draft bill proposes a fund to support all registered stakeholders for training their staff. If this bill is passed in parliament and becomes an Act, it will give SLTDA more powers to withstand political and corporate pressure and be more independent and inclusive for everyone’s benefit.”

“Black money infusion is high in this industry as an international mechanism for money laundering which is true for Sri Lanka too, and such occurrences can be better monitored and tracked within a fair and transparent operational framework if this bill is passed into law.”

“Taking these facts into consideration, authorities should not allow a privileged few to wield their political and corporate power to undermine fair practices, sustainability and growth of this industry in the medium to long term. We should all keep in mind that tourists’ perception towards tourism businesses is much more discerning than it ever was in terms of fair trade practices, especially in tourism destinations in developing countries such as ours,” Suranjith Wewita said.

 



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Mahindra Ideal Finance One of Sri Lanka’s Great Places to Work

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MIFL team at the Great Place to work® Awards ceremony for Best 10 companies in the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance industry held at the Hilton Hotel, Colombo.

Mahindra Ideal Finance is not only one of Sri Lanka’s leading finance companies, but also one of Sri Lanka’s top employers of choice, attested to by the Company being certified as a Great Place to Work for 3 consecutive years, most recently in 2021.The Company has also been recognized amongst the Best 10 companies in the banking, financial services and insurance sector in 2021 by the Great Place to Work® Sri Lanka. As a result, Mahindra Ideal Finance has attracted a diverse group of individuals at the top of their game to be a part of the Company’s various teams. Having embarked on a landmark islandwide network expansion strategy, Mahindra Ideal Finance is also creating new opportunities for aspiring Sri Lankan professionals looking to build solid careers in financial services.

Duminda Weerasekara – Chief Executive Officer said, “As we are growing our presence around the country through the expansion of our branch network, we are looking for driven and passionate people to reinforce our teams. As we have been a dedicated, caring and trustworthy employer since our inception, Mahindra Ideal Finance is the ideal platform for dynamic young professionals looking to launch or grow their careers.”Great Place to Work®, headquartered in the USA, is the global authority on high-trust, high performance workplace cultures. Great Place to Work provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures.

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Daraz Cares introduces ‘Buy one Give One’ initiative – To support families in vulnerable communities

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The unfolding economic crisis in the country has presented Sri Lankans with unprecedented challenges, including scarcity of essentials, escalating living expenses and deteriorating living standards. The impacts of the crisis are graver and more ominous for those in vulnerable communities, where families struggle to make ends meet amidst mounting financial difficulties.As part of its commitment to give back to the community, Daraz Cares has come forward with a social initiative that pledges support for families in vulnerable communities. The initiative themed ‘Buy One, Give One’ will support Sri Lankan families faced with financial challenges with a pack of selected daily essentials. The selected items for the ‘Buy One, Give One’ initiative are, a 1kg pack of CIC Sudu Suduru Rice,a 500g of Orient Mysoore Dhal, a 300g pack of Maggi Coconut Milk Powder, 500g of Orient White Sugar, and 500 g packs of Sunlight Lemon and Rose Detergent Powder, which are all available for purchase via Daraz Mart.

The initiative will be implemented in a manner that, each time an individual purchase any desired quantity of one of the nominated items on the Daraz app, Daraz will donate an equal quantity of the same product to a family in vulnerable communities.Daraz invites everyone to purchase a preferred quantity of the selected items via www.daraz.lk/dmart/ and become a part of the ‘Buy One, Give One’ social initiative.

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DIMO partners with Allianz to provide innovative insurance scheme to its TATA customers

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DIMO together with Allianz recently introduced a state-of-the-art motor insurance & claim settlement scheme designed exclusively for DIMO’s TATA customers.The partnership is focused on assisting the customers to reduce costs incurred during conducting accident repairs through exemption of the owner’s payable portion for TATA vehicles within 5 years of date of manufacture. This innovative facility also offers all TATA customers of DIMO special insurance premium rates at the time of renewal of insurance. DIMO’s TATA customers will enjoy the utmost convenience and zero hassle as both DIMO and Allianz will coordinate all tasks from towing the vehicle to the nearest DIMO-TATA workshop, quick and efficient estimation & approval process, repairing of the vehicle according to exact manufacturer’s specifications, settlement of repair bills to handing over of the vehicle to the customer in original condition.

Ranjith Pandithage, Chairman & Managing Director of DIMO, said, “This partnership will further assist us in offering an enhanced service for our valued customers. As a company, DIMO has always stood for fuelling the dreams and aspirations of the communities we serve in, and it is a pleasure to be able to offer an innovative insurance scheme at a time like this, in collaboration with Allianz.

Gany Subramaniam, CEO of Allianz Insurance Lanka Ltd, said “We are extremely pleased to be partnering with DIMO to offer a customer-centric product, ensuring a vehicle is repaired and restored with minimum hassle.”

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