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1,000 vehicles to be imported to accelerate tourism industry development.

By: Staff Writer

April 03, Colombo (LNW): The government has decided to import a total of 1,000 buses and vans to improve the transportation facilities provided to tourists.

Accordingly, in a bid to boost the tourism sector, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to a proposal presented by the Minister of Tourism and Lands to import 750 vans and 250 buses.

As per the proposal, 6-15 seater vans, as well as 16-30 seater (small) buses and 30-45 seater (large) buses are planned to be imported, without any special tax relief.

The government says that, although it is considered a custom in the tourist industry that vehicles engaged in the industry for tourist transportation should not be used for more than 6 years, it is apparent that the condition of the vehicles used in the industry is not satisfactory and sufficient.

In a statement, it added that the fame earned by Sri Lanka as a prominent tourist destination is tarnished due to the usage of age-old vehicles as a result of the limitation of vehicles and essential spare parts.

Therefore, the requirement of importing vehicles essential for enhancing the industry has been recognized by the government, considering the contribution to the tourist industry within the economic revival process of Sri Lanka.

The Government of Sri Lanka’s consideration of lifting the restrictions on vehicle imports without a control mechanism could lead to a mass outflow of the gradually improving foreign reserves, warns industry experts.

Leading Motor trader noted that stakeholders in the industry have already proposed a mechanism with a duty that comes over 1 ½-2 years, but the Government has not announced any sort of mechanism along with the lift on vehicle import restrictions.

He also stressed that the removal of restrictions on buses and commercial vehicles can have detrimental consequences as the Government is to extend the import of buses that are 10 years old.

He said: “They (the Government) has to consider the environment when bringing buses which are 10 years old and have a mileage of 1 million kilometres.”

The industry expert reiterated that the safety of passengers is at stake in importing such vehicles merely to save money, which would cost the Government further along with maintaining old vehicles.

He further added that the industry that specialises in busses and commercial vehicles will benefit but that the Government should consider the aspect of the two-wheelers, as well, to kick-start small businesses.

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