Sri Lanka Hoteliers Association President M. Shanthikumar told the Business Times that they raised the issue with the authorities of new apartments giving out their rooms for tourists at lower rates that has left the hotels in the city and in the south without adequate travellers to house especially evident since the last two winter seasons.
The winter season has brought in the numbers of visitors to the country however hoteliers were feeling the pinch with occupancy levels less than expected during this peak period.
Currently, authorities were studying the issue where apartments coming up in Colombo and even in the South were opening their doors to the incoming tourist traffic and had even commenced advertising online as well for increased bookings.
These apartments don’t apparently have necessary regulatory approval to operate as a tourist establishment as a result of which they were not paying the required taxes that all other approved hotels were licenced to pay.
This has caused the apartments to price their rooms as low as US$40-60 catering to the mid market category, it was noted.
Mr. Shanthikumar pointed out that some establishments were operating as boutique hotels without the necessary license.
However, authorities when questioned stated that there was no particular law to deal with such malpractices and that the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority was not empowered to undertake any action against these apartments.
SLTDA Director General Dr. D.S. Jayaweera said that the Tourism Development Act 2005 and even the regulation prevalent have not vested the tourism authorities with any enforcement powers.
He pointed out that this was not under the purview of Sri Lanka Tourism and noted that they were currently studying the issue to ascertain its significance and if it would impact severely on the industry.
In this respect, Dr. Jayaweera said they would study the necessary legislation if required, to ensure authorities could take steps to curb this situation.