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Tourism industry stakeholders urged to strictly adhere to health protcols



Tourism Industry operators and stakeholders must ensure accountability with strict adherence to the protocols and mechanisms laid down to ensure the recovery of the industry. This is the time Industry should come together, work together and ensure Sri Lanka will have a steady yet continued recovery both for the sake of the country, communities and the industry at large, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau said in a press release.

The release further said:

Tourism was one of the fastest growing sectors in Asia and is the third largest foreign exchange earner in Sri Lanka. When the Covid-19 pandemic surfaced in 2020, tourism was the one to face the immediate impact and one of the industries to be strained the most. Sri Lanka first went into lockdown including the airport closure in March 2020 to control the spread of the virus. The tourist arrivals globally fell abruptly for the first time in the history of tourism and came to a complete halt for a period of 10 months till 21st January 2021. This comes at a situation when the Sri Lankan Tourism industry was suffering from the negative impacts of the Easter attack. Thus from 2019 onwards the industry has not been able to function in full operation. Resulting in two Bear winter seasons in 2019 and 2020. Thus the need to recover fast, steady yet in a prudent manner.

Sri Lanka was one of the very few to open up for Tourism during this time under the protection of a ‘Tourism Bio Bubble’ operation put in place by Sri Lanka Tourism which has been recognized and acknowledged globally as an innovative concept to resume tourism in the new normal operations.

Tourism Bio-Bubble included 3 pillars of ‘Safe and Secure Hotels’, ‘Tourism Operational Guidelines’ and ‘Safety Guidelines for visitors’ (refer picture 1). It is this Bio-Bubble concept that won Sri Lanka many accolades to include ‘Safe Travel Stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council’, ‘Top Country’ for Winter Travel for 2020 by ‘USA Today’, ‘Best place to visit in 2020’ by CNN, ‘Top Destination to Travel’ by Condé Nast Traveller in 2020, Sri Lanka listed as one of the best holiday destinations for 2020 by The Times, UK and Wanderlust Travel Awards 2020 in London where Sri Lanka wins “Back on the Map” award.

While Other Asian tourist destinations remained closed for tourists till recently, Sri Lanka commenced the revival of the tourism industry through the creation of the Tourism Bio Bubble. Sri Lanka is also one of the first in the Asian region to prepare and issue a detailed COVID-19 Health Protocol for the Industry.

Despite this readiness by the local Tourism industry, the world suffered several travel bans, suspension of flights and lockdowns due to pandemic waves that surfaced time to time further restricting global travel.

After a period of 3 plus months of Tourism re-opening, Sri Lanka again went into another lockdown period. With the rise of Covid-19 cases reported daily, Sri Lanka was listed on the red list in UK and most EU countries, USA had travel advisories imposed. This was a blow to the recovery of tourism industry.

However, given the strong vaccination drive by the government and the prudent health controls in place, Sri Lanka was able to curtail the spread and to reopen for Tourism once again on 1st June 2021. Revisions to bio-bubble operations were made to adapt to the developments in both local and global vaccination programs and global best practices. However Sri Lanka Tourism, under the guidance of the Ministry of Health has been adopting a prudent operational mechanism for the industry with relaxations offered on health recommendations. With the successful government vaccination program and constant communication of progress to educate overseas missions locally, Sri Lanka was able to be gradually removed from red lists published by UK.

Furthermore, travel restrictions were also eased prudently allowing fully vaccinated visitors to travel with less restriction from 1st October 2021. As echoed by the industry ever since the easing of the health restrictions we have seen a gradual increase in the bookings and flights which is an indication of a gradual pick up and the much needed economic and foreign exchange boost.


SL needs laser-like focus on IMF programme implementation: Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy



Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Former Governor

‘If it gets suspended, it would have pretty dramatic consequences’

by Sanath Nanayakkare

There are three most important priorities for Sri Lanka in the wake of the IMF Programme; implementation, implementation and implementation of the agreed upon benchmarks of the programme. Last thing we need to suddenly find is that we have gone off the track of the programme and it is suspended, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Former Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka said on Friday.

He said so while giving the keynote speech at a Central Bank hosted webinar titled “What is next for Sri Lanka in the wake of IMF Programme?”

Deshal De Mel, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Murtaza Jafferjee, Managing Director, JB Securities, Bingumal Thewarathanthri, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank were the panelists at the forum where the moderator was Shiran Fernando, Chief Economist at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

The following are a few comments made by Dr.Coomaraswamy.

The IMF EFF has now been successfully negotiated. This is in some way the beginning. There is lot more to do. It’s time to start thinking about what happens next. A little under a year ago, there were acute shortages of the most essential good. There were long queues and one or two people passed away while in queue. Prices were skyrocketing and exchange rate was collapsing, inflation was spiking and the Central Bank had to push up interest rates. All this happened only a few months from where we are today. The fact that things have stabilized to a significant extent clearly is a very favourable outcome but actually there is no room for complacency because the stabilization has happened at a low-level equilibrium.

It has happened when the economy experienced a 7.6% contraction last year. It was better than what was anticipated by the IMF and the World Bank, but still it is a very sharp contraction. And we need to get to a situation where we have macro-economic stability with a growth rate of about 4%. There is a lot to be done for this. But this is a very commendable place to get to after all. The Paris Club comprising G7 countries has endorsed our efforts to restore debt sustainability. The non-Paris Club creditors such as India and China also have endorsed and supported our efforts too. So the largest countries and creditors are willing to support Sri Lanka to get back on track in terms of debt sustainability. So this is not a bad place to be.”

“IMF programme implementation has always been a weakness on our part. This time we have already done a lot as prior action but there is more as you would have seen from the documentation tabled in parliament including structural reforms and institutional reform. So we have to have laser-like focus on implementation and move forward with the programme. If the programme gets suspended, it would have pretty dramatic consequences. So we need to keep it on track. We can’t give up the absolutely compelling need for fiscal discipline. What is next for us is; discipline and making the needed economic policy and implementing what e have agreed to do. During our past IMF programmes, the issue was lack of implementation by the Sri Lankan authorities.

Earlier this week Dr. Chandranath Amarasekare, Executive Director at the CBSL arranged for the Irish authorities to brief Sri lankan authorities on the implementation unit set up in Ireland when the global financial crisis hit Ireland which led them to go into an IMF programme. Ireland was meticulous in the way they set up the implementation framework. They identified all the action that had to be taken and assigned parts of it to relevant government entities to implement them. Ireland is back on track now. We need to have the same degree of laser-like focus on implementing the benchmarks. We have to figure out what needs to be done and ascribe responsibility for each action and monitor

carefully how we are going about it. We have to make sue we are hitting all the targets and structural benchmarks as we go along. These are embedded in the IMF programme. Last thing we need is to suddenly find that we have gone off the track of the programme and the programme is suspended. That will constrain the inflows to the country and it will affect the confidence beginning to build up now. All that will get undermined if the programme gets suspended because we are not able to keep it on track. So the Implementation Unit will need a very good authority to reach out to any part of government and get things done. We need this Implementation Unit to be well-structured and running well. And it should have the authority of the President behind it,”he said.

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Exterminators PLC opens a training and R&D center



Exterminators PLC, Sri Lanka’s premier pest tech and environmental tech company, opened a 5,000 plus square foot training, research and development center to enhance the quality of service via in-depth innovation to create a circular economy inorder to meet the growing demand in environmentally sustainable public health pest management, agricultural pest management, livestock, plantation and landscape pest management, sanitation and disinfection services in Sri Lanka and emerging and developing markets. The facility includes simulated environments for training in pest management, termite management, mosquito management, sanitation and disinfection, health and safety for new recruits and continuous professional training and development for existing employees.

The company plans to provide training for international pest management professionals in emerging and developing countries as well as serve as a training facility for its strategic franchising partners in the region.

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SLT-MOBITEL ‘Hosting Cub’ for MSMEs enables critical infrastructure and value-added hosting services



Understanding the importance of supporting Micro, Small, And Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to drive growth and efficiencies, SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider is offering its Hosting Cub – Shared Web Hosting service catering to vital hosting requirements.

SLT-MOBITEL provides hosting facilities for MSMEs with affordable pricing, easy expansion of MSMEs cyber presence and other value-added offerings via its Shared Hosting and Virtual Private Server (VPS) solutions.

The Shared Hosting proposal is offered as the most economical option available for hosting. The overall cost of server maintenance is shared, also catering to low traffic websites that do not require higher bandwidth such as smaller websites and blogs.

The Share Hosting solution is available via four levels – Stellar, Stellar Plus, Stellar Pro and Stellar Business. The ‘Stellar’ package 1 GB VSAN Disk Space to balance storage usage, monthly 20 GB Bandwidth, 2 Mbps speed, 10 websites allowed, secure connection through SSL, FTP Accounts to manage file transfers, Unlimited email accounts, Unlimited MySQL Database to manage data, Unlimited Sub Domains, Hosting in SLT’s state-of-the-art Data Centre and WordPress supported. The pack is priced at only Rs 7500 per annum.

Similarly, the Stellar Plus presents an enhanced package with 2 GB VSAN Disk Space, monthly 40 GB Bandwidth, approval of 15 websites in addition to all the other value-additions. It is priced at Rs 12,000 per year. The Stellar Pro delivers 3 GB VSAN Disk Space, monthly 100 GB Bandwidth and 30 websites allowed while the Stellar Business provides 5 GB VSAN Disk Space, monthly 150GB Bandwidth and 40 websites. All other features are also enabled. The costs for Stellar Pro and Stellar Business are Rs 16,500 and Rs 25,500 respectively, per annum.

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