In Sri Lanka, there are nearly one thousand foreigners who are engaging in informal tourism in Sri Lanka running businesses such as restaurants, bars, villas, lodges and Ayurveda spa mainly in the Southern coastal areas bringing no income to Sri Lanka and the Director General (DG) Sri Lanka Tourism said they will be holding discussions with the Immigration and Emigration Department next month to investigate the matter.
Director-General of the Sri Lanka Tourism Dhammika Jayasinghe told Ceylon Today there are a considerable number of Chinese, Russians, Germans, Ukrainians etc., who did not leave the country during COVID-19 even when there were special flights were arranged. She alleged some of them who did not leave could be those who are engaged in the unregistered tourism business, she added.
Between Weligama to Mirrissa coastal strip, there is hundreds of such unregistered business going on, Ceylon Today learns from a reliable source. They have the local politicians’ support and others who protect them for money. They even run liquor bars without a license it is alleged.
Those foreigners rent out locals houses and shops and redesign to their taste to attract tourists promoting it through their online bookings.
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The locals give away those houses on rent and settle in the interiors after obtaining cash from the foreigners, it is alleged.
“We are told by the Immigration department there are several foreigners who keep on renewing their visas and some even before the COVID-19 outbreak had been doing so.
While there are many foreign investors and hoteliers who have registered with the SLTDA and legally doing businesses, there are also those who are not registered and continue to rip off the foreign exchange that meant for Sri Lanka. “The revenue through online booking does not come to Sri Lanka, she added.
In Ambalangoda there are Ayurveda spas run by Germans without the Tourist Board approval it is alleged. These people fly to the Maldives or India and come back renewing their visas in a week or so and continue to do business,” a reliable source told the newspaper. Their business is growing and the party in the sea and hold big events getting guests from overseas doing their own online bookings, the source said. At the moment many villas, hotels, and pubs run by foreigners are shut down due to COVID19 scare and it would re-emerge when the international airports are opened, the source said