Central Bank (CB) Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal called the hoteliers to embrace the present challenges in repositioning their product and re-energising the tourism industry, instead of trying to return to the pre-pandemic business model.
“Financial resources are certainly strained, so we need to refocus and reposition our product as well. In time of chaos, we can make use of it; certain reforms and certain changes can only be done when times are dark. Next six months, it will be an excellent opportunity for you to reposition your product,” Cabraal told the hoteliers at the 56th anniversary of The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), held in Colombo, last Friday. He acknowledged that the government currently has a limited capacity to extend support, after extending relief to businesses and individuals impacted. Hence, he stressed that certain adjustments are required to emerge from the present challenges.
“We, from the government, are also strained. It’s not easy today. The moratorium was Rs.4000 billion and it’s still continuing. We would like to continue it. But, at the same time, we know some adjustments need to be done now. We cannot see it’s happening like normal course of business.
Right now, loan after loan won’t help it. We have to bring some fresh new capital,” he went on to say.
He recalled that the apparel industry back in 2009-2010 was at a similar situation when the European Union was preparing to withdraw the GSP Plus concession granted to the country. As the government along with the industry figures took the lead in preparing the industry in advance for the challenge, he said that the apparel industry remains unaffected when GSP Plus was withdrawn. “… when the actual challenge occurred, nothing happens.
That’s what most reforms are about. So, we have an opportunity like that. We need to embrace that,” he added. Commenting on the tourism industry’s future prospects, Cabraal was confident of the industry reaching US $ 10 billion in ‘a very good time’. He assured that the government would come up with a plan for the industry, assuring a smooth run for the industry.
“It’s time for you to re-energise the industry and take it forward,” he said.