Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has celebrated World Tourism Day on 27th September. This date was chosen as the statutes of the UNWTO were adopted on that day in 1970. The adoption of these statutes is considered a milestone in global tourism. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.
This year the Sri Lanka Institute of National Tourist Guide Lecturers (SLINTGL) organised a free city tour of Colombo on an open-deck double-decker bus, followed by a press conference. The bus started its journey at the Kingsbury Hotel in the heart of Colombo. After covering the main highlights of the city, it reached its final destination – Independence Square, where the treaty that declared Sri Lanka’s independence from the British Empire was signed on 4th February 1948. When the bus arrived at Independence Square, the group was welcomed with a cultural performance. Addressing the gathering, SLINTGL President Mr. Manoj Maddage explained what should be the future aims of tourism in Sri Lanka, based on this year’s theme of Rethinking Tourism.
Dr. Mahesh Priyadarshana, President of the Sri Lanka Institute of National Tourist Guide Lecturers, stresses the importance of the national duty of NTGLs in revamping tourism in Sri Lanka to face the threat posed by COVID-19.
Industrial Exports and Investment Promotion, Tourism and Aviation Minister Prasanna Ranatunga directed Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairperson Kimarli Fernando to take measures to introduce a new insurance scheme for tourist guides in Sri Lanka.
The top tier of tourist guides representing several Tourist Guide Associations in Sri Lanka urged the Minister Ranatunga to introduce a proper insurance scheme for them to ensure their job security during a recent meeting.
They said the lack of job security due to an absence of an insurance scheme and EPF/ ETF benefits, has affected them vastly. They said that three tourist guides in Sri Lanka were infected with COVID 19 and one person among them had already died.
There are nearly 5000 Tourist Guides across the country registered with the SLTDA. The representatives also request the Minister to introduce a concessionary loan scheme for them. They said that their organisations had written to the Tourism Development Authority requesting that the minimum daily wage be increased to $ US 35. Minister said that the SLTDA has already paid its attention to these requests.
The representatives said unlicensed tourist guides are a big issue and they are often involved in unethical practices including overcharging tourists. The Minister said that action will be taken to prevent these types of unlawful acts in the future and a mechanism will created to regulate tourist guides, chauffeur guides and drivers in the future.
Sri Lanka Institute of Tourist Guide Lecturers (SLINTGL) held a press conference on 13th March 2020 and requested the authorities to take prompt measures to control the spread of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka. SLINTGL representatives made a strong case for a temporary stoppage of tourism in the national interest, despite the fact that such a step will adversely affect the livelihood of its membership. The Institute is happy to note that the Government has since made some decisions to that effect.