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Transforming the tourism sector one question at a time



Creating an inclusive National Tourism Policy for Sri Lanka:

Mapping the future of the tourism sector in Sri Lanka is vital for the country’s economic recovery post COVID-19. In line with this, the Ministry of Tourism initiated a process to develop a National Tourism Policy for Sri Lanka early this year.

The outlines of the policy have been discussed with the Ministry of Tourism, the Inter-Ministerial Committee, Advisory Council, Tourism Ministry Working Group, Ministry of Finance, Private Sector stakeholders and Provincial Level representatives with technical assistance provided by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Sri Lanka.

Prior to the drafting of the National Tourism Policy, two questionnaires were designed, to make the policy drafting process inclusive and ensure wide stakeholder participation despite COVID-19 restrictions on meetings and workshops.

The first questionnaire focused on the current state of tourism in Sri Lanka, and had an overwhelming response, allowing for representative views from all public and private stakeholders invested in the tourism sector to be captured.

An issues paper was then developed with input received from the questionnaire meetings held with public sector representatives, provincial council members and private sector associations.

The second questionnaire has been compiled to elicit responses to the proposed policy interventions and reforms, and address issues raised during consultations. This questionnaire, known as the Policy Reforms Questionnaire, is open to all public sector (government and deconcentrated), private sector and NGOs, civil society, international institutions and other relevant organizations in the tourism sector.

Speaking on the importance of the second follow-up questionnaire, Siri Hettiarchchi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, said that the intention of the Ministry is to get as many stakeholder responses as possible, despite the ongoing travel restrictions. “

“We want the policy to reflect the aspirations of the industry and its future vision, which should uphold sustainability – social and environmental – and build the ability to withstand shocks and setbacks”, he said.

This questionnaire will provide all interested parties with the opportunity to express their debates, propose solutions, and reach a consensus. The responses will then be compiled together to form policy proposals and policy actions that will suggest institutional, legal, regulatory, and fiscal reforms as well as identifying key priorities in shaping the final National Tourism Policy.

The National Tourism Policy will be an essential component in transforming Sri Lanka’s tourism sector to a more sustainable one in the coming decade.

A final validation national workshop will take place at the end of July to ensure that the selected reforms are supported by the tourism sector, so as to work towards a cohesive revival of tourism in Sri Lanka. (UNDP Press Release)



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused



By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.



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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas



By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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