Chamber of Tourism calls on govt. to develop domestic air travel services
The Chamber of Tourism and Industry has emphasized the need to develop domestic air travel services to effectively compete with its regional peers.
It pointed out that putting off the expansion and upgrading of domestic and international aviation services in the country will make it difficult for the tourism sector to reach its full potential.
Airlines, airport operators, airport on-site enterprises (restaurants and retail), and air navigation service providers employ 19,000 people in Sri Lanka. In addition,by buying goods and services from local suppliers the sector supported another 9,000 jobs.
On top of this, the sector is estimated to support a further 6,000 jobs through the wages it pays its employees, some or all of which are subsequently spent on consumer goods and services.
Foreign tourists arriving by air to Sri Lanka, who spend their money in the local economy,are estimated to support an additional 669,000 jobs. In total 703,000 jobs are supported by air transport and tourists arriving by air.
The local tourism sector experienced a near-collapse in the recent past following the interruptions of services by institutions providing domestic air travel using planes and helicopters.
As destination Sri Lanka is actively working towards reawakening the hard-hit sector, there is an urgent need to promote and further upgrade the aviation sector by luring more airlines to set up their serving offices in the country, said the Chamber in a statement to the media.
Given that active efforts have not been taken as yet to provide infrastructure facilities at domestic airports in the country, Tourism and Industry Chamber President A.M.Jaufer stressed that as a result the entire tourism sector has got affected.
To address the prevailing issues, the chamber called on the relevant authorities to start upgrading the domestic airports at Sigiriya, Koggala, China Bay and Batticaloa.
He noted that efforts must be taken to maximize the service opportunities and facilities at domestic airports to attract more passengers.
The chamber also stressed the need to establish flying training schools at Weerawila, Batticaloa and Jaffna airport complexes which will allow the educated youth to improve their skills.
To encourage the public to use domestic flying services, which will make the delivery financially viable, the chamber urged the authorities to introduce a fixed-price range for airline tickets, replacing the exorbitant charging system prevailing at present.
Further, efforts must be taken to introduce reforms to amend regulations in a speedy manner to fast-track revenue, the chamber said.
The air transport industry,including airlines and its supply chain, are estimated to support US $446 million of GDP in SriLanka. Spending by foreign tourists supports a further.
US $7.4 billion of the country’s GDP, totaling US $7.9 billion. In total, 8.9 percent of the country’s GDP is supported by inputs to the air transport sector and foreign tourists arriving by air.