SL Inbound Tour Operators express concern on new hotel room rates
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) yesterday voiced its concern regarding the recent decision to impose Minimum Room Rates (MRR) for Colombo hotels.
The apex body representing Destination Management Companies (DMCs) strongly believes that market-driven rates, based on supply and demand dynamics, are vital for a thriving tourism industry and should not be subject to Government regulation.
On Friday, the Government issued an Extraordinary Gazette on MRR which will be effective from 1 October.
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Priyantha Fernando on Friday formally notified the General Managers of Colombo City hotels about the introduction of Minimum Room Rates (MRR) from 1 October 2023 ending speculation about a possible deferment due to protest by tour operators.
The new directive brings forth a series of guidelines aimed at standardizing room pricing across distribution channels
The MRR structure has been defined to accommodate different hotel categories: $ 100 for 5-star hotels, $ 75 for 4-star establishments, $ 50 for 3-star accommodations, $35 for 2-star hotels and $ 20 for one-star tourist hotels.
As per the Gazette notification, the prices for corporate and free independent tourists (FIT), the MRR structure has been defined to accommodate different hotel categories: $ 100 for 5-star hotels, $ 75 for 4-star establishments, $ 50 for 3-star accommodations, $35 for 2-star hotels and $ 20 for one-star tourist hotels.
However, SLAITO contends that this move could potentially impede the promotion of Colombo as a destination and might have a detrimental impact on the burgeoning Indian MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) market, which has been experiencing rapid growth in recent months.
They claimed similar sentiments were echoed by the Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition & Event Organizers (SLAPCEO), the association responsible for MICE, who expressed strong objections to this regulatory decision.
Adding to the concerns is the apparent lack of consultation with SLAITO, despite the association being a key player responsible for bringing the highest number of tourists into the country. The decision to implement the MRR was made without their input or participation in any prior discussions.
“Regrettably, SLAITO (which brings in most tourists into this country) had neither been consulted nor included in any discussion before this arbitrary decision was taken,” the statement added.
The industry body further noted that the consequences of imposing these rates have not been thoroughly assessed or strategically considered. SLAITO suggests that this decision may have been influenced by a ‘select group of hoteliers’, potentially with vested interests.
“SLAITO is of the view that it will result in irreversible long-term damage to the tourism industry for which the regulator will have to take full responsibility,” the association asserted.