Government provides relief to stakeholders of tourism industry

The Government has taken measures to provide relief to stakeholders in the tourism industry, the Ministry of Tourism reiterated today.

The Ministry of Tourism, together with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) is taking steps in order to sustain the lives of employees directly involved in the tourism industry and linked to establishments registered with the SLTDA.

The relief measures approved with implementation mechanisms are as follows.

  1.     Provide a loan at 4% to accommodation providers and destination management companies (DMCs) registered under SLTDA to pay salaries through Bank of Ceylon (BOC) without collateral, under the Post COVID-19 Relief budget of the government. The bank will directly remit salaries up to a maximum of Rs. 20,000/= per employee for six months based on the EPF/ ETF records supplied by the accommodation owners when applying for the loan facility. SLTDA will provide details of all the accommodation providers and DMCs registered under the Authority.
  1.     A similar loan facility will be made available to pay salaries of employees of 850+ establishments providing facilities to tourists, registered under SLTDA including; Restaurants, Tourist Friendly Eating Places, Spa & Wellness Centers, Spice Gardens, Tourist Shops and Water Sports Centers. The bank will directly remit salaries up to a maximum of Rs. 15,000/= per employee for a period of six months based on the EPF/ ETF records supplied by the owners of the establishments.
  1.     Tour Guides and Tourist Drivers who are employed per tour basis and not entitled to EPF/ETF, SLTDA would provide one-off payments of Rs.20,000 to tour guides and Rs.15,000 to drivers registered with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. These payments would be directly remitted to their bank accounts by the Authority.
  1.     Instructions to be given to the Ceylon Electricity Board and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board to delay claiming dues from SLTDA registered accommodation providers for period from 1st March to 31st August 2020 and provide a 12-month instalment plan to settle the cumulative bills. In the event Electricity and/or Water Bills have been paid during this period, an additional period of credit to be given; to ensure a 12 months grace period in total.
  1.     The Central Bank to issue circular giving instructions to Banks and Financial Institutions to extend the six months grace period given for vehicles leased for tourism purposes to twelve months without considering the existing lease agreement and without default charges during the grace period.

The Ministry and SLTDA further issued criteria for eligibility and conditions for above mentioned points No. 1 and 2:

–          All entities falling under above categories registered with SLTDA or whose registration is being processed at the authority are eligible. (including foreign investments/owners)

–          Entities who have paid TDL (Tourism Development Levy) will be given 1st preference.

–          All loan disbursements will be to employers who have made employee EPF payments during 2019.

–          All disbursements will be via Bank of Ceylon (BoC) and will be subjected to a corporate guarantee or personal or independent guarantor acceptable to Bank of Ceylon.

–          Until the full repayment of the loan is done, the borrower is required to be registered with SLTDA. Failure to do so would be a breach of covenant.

–          All loan disbursements will be remitted directly to employee bank accounts monthly.

–          Registered entities who have availed the soft working capital loan during April, May and June 2020 will be eligible.

The Ministry added that pertaining to the repayment of the above mentioned points 1 and 2, the applicable interest rate is 4% per annum and this will be a Five (5) year loan with a two-year grace period from the date of disbursement. (Colombo Gazette)