The draft of the bill to the proposed Tourism Act will be finalised after a period of three months, .
Speaking to us, the Ministry of Tourism Secretary S. Hettiarachchi stated that the Cabinet of Ministers had granted the approval earlier for the proposal of the Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga, in order to repeal the Tourism Act No. 38 of 2005 which later created controversy between state-owned tourist authorities and the private sector dominated tourism bodies.
Due to this reason, Minister Ranatunga agreed to let the private sector tourism bodies to present their suggestions within a three month period in order to finalise the draft of the said bill.
The proposal is to merge the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB).
After the preparation of the bill, Hettiarachchi said the Ministry sees the need of circulating it among the stakeholders.
However, during a meeting, Hettiarachchi said that the Minister of Tourism has requested them to provide suggestions while appointing a committee to look into the matter.
“We expect their proposals for exactly a three month period because we want to corporate those things (suggestions) to the bill,” said Hettiarachchi, adding that the Ministry has also given space for stakeholders to take part in the amendments to the Tourism Act appropriately.
He also said that he expects a delay completing the whole process due to the Covid-19 pandemic, since the offices are not fully functional due to the mobility restrictions.
“I informed the SLTDA to check with the matter as well,” added Hettiarachchi, implying that in spite of the limitations that they are working towards the Cabinet-approved proposal of the Tourism Act.
“With the help of the former Legal Draftsman (LD), we initially have to submit a draft document. After that submission, the LD has to incorporate the ideas of stakeholders and other suggestions with regard to tourism,” he said, explaining the Constitution approved procedure of drafting a bill, which eventually takes time.
“We also expect to hold provisional level discussions on what are the changes or the improvements that need to be brought in,” he further emphasised saying that those ideas also will contribute in seeing the matter in a different view as well as a border scale.
Last week, Ranatunga said to The Sunday Morning Business: “The new Tourism Act will increase the efficiency of all official authorities in terms of improving communication within the three different departments, reducing duplicated work, cost-saving and also making the chain of command faster with clear directions.”