An ambitious plan to prop up Lanka?s tottering tourist industry is in trouble with Tourist Board Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara expressing serious concern over, what he had termed as, the proposed new tourism law.
The plan prepared by Tourism Secretary Dr. P. Ramanujam is believed to have won Tourism Minister Anura Bandaranaike?s approval. Well informed sources said that the hotly disputed scheme got underway during the previous UNP administration.
The plan envisages the breaking-up of what an official termed as a monolithic organisation and bringing in the private sector expertise.
The Island learns that Nanayakkara has written to Minister Bandaranaike regarding this.
The Tourist Board chief has vehemently opposed the moves to restructure the funding sources. According to written representations made by him, Nanayakkara has disputed the proposed funding structure, particularly allocation of 69 per cent of the planned Tourism Development Fund (TDF) for marketing and promotions (under the Tourism Marketing Bureau). He is of the view that the private sector would be unfairly benefited by this.
The controversial plan envisages consolidating the Tourism Development Levy (TDL) and Embarkation Levy (EL) into the TDF.
The sources pointed out that if implemented the proposed plan would weaken the Tourist Board?s authority. The board now operates on the income from the TDL, EL, lease rent and processing of projects as well as Registration and License fees.
Nanayakkara has proposed the TDL and EL should be strictly kept separate and the former should be exclusively used for marketing and promotion. He has suggested that EL should be used for tourism development.
He has also suggested that the current one per cent TDL should be increased to meet the rising requirements.
Nanayakakra has criticised the proposed disbursement of funds, particularly the move to allocate 6 per cent TDF (about Rs 48 million) for the Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau which has a staff of six. `This is a staggering increase in their annual budget,` the sources said.
He has insisted that the each year?s funding should be determined by needs and priorities.
The moves to make far reaching changes at the Sri Lanka Tourist Board managed Hotel School too had been criticised by the Chairman.