(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga says that he expects to amend the labor laws affecting those engaged in the tourism sector next year and discussions will be held with the Ministry of Labor and necessary arrangements will be made for that.
He was speaking at the 41st Annual Diploma Ceremony of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management (SLITHM) held at the Colombo International Memorial Conference Hall on the 27th November.
Due to the Coronavirus epidemic, it was not possible to award diplomas for 2019. This year, diplomas were awarded to students graduated in both 2019 and 2020.
Speaking further Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said, the tourism industry is at a critical juncture. “Many people in the sector are now suffering due to the Covid epidemic. Many countries around the world are systematically opening up after the Covid epidemic. Our country is also now open to tourists and the tourism industry is gradually gaining momentum.”
“The number of people directly and indirectly dependent on the tourism industry in our country is around 3 million. It is our responsibility to protect those in this field. That is what we are working for. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Vision of Prosperity Policy Statement clearly states the human resource management of the tourism industry. Accordingly, we are working to transform the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management into a Graduate Higher Educational Institution. We also obtained cabinet approval for that. To this end, we hope to amend Act No. 38 of 2005, which is currently in effect. It has already been referred to the Legal Draftsman’s Division. We hope to introduce degree or higher education courses to those in the region who are interested in doing so. We hope to make the necessary arrangements for this in the first quarter of next year.”
He said the tourism industry has become a risky industry. Whether it is the floods, tsunamis or bomb blasts, or a global pandemic, tourism sector becomes vulnerable.
“Taking this situation into consideration, we are currently working to introduce a social security program for those engaged in the tourism sector. Our aim is to ensure the job security of those engaged in this field in the event of such disasters,” the Minister said.
The President’s Policy Statement further states that the Labor Laws will be amended to protect the employment and other trade union rights of employees engaged in this field. With the recent coronavirus pandemic situation, we have not been able to take any further action in this regard. We look forward to discussing with the Ministry of Labor next year and taking further action in this regard.
Today we give you one affirmation for all new diploma holders entering this field. We are working to develop the tourism industry in this country even more than it was before Covid. Despite the various obstacles we face through the global epidemic, we are working towards it.
S. Hettiarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson of the Tourism Development Authority and Nadeeka Wataliyadda, Director General · Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management also spoke.