Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Seeing that Covid 19 will be with us for a while, when new waves of infection happen there needs to be infrastructure in place to inform visitors and operators on what needs to be done.
Clear and Consistent Information Given to Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Operators
Operational guidelines of how to maintain a safe area should be published on all Tourism Ministry and SLTDA websites in all three languages. Anyone calling for procedures is to be directed to this site.
Proper guidelines for hotels, restaurants, tour operators, retail and any other tourism related service like spa’s etc. should be specifically accounted for.
A fast method to have operators get certified as safe operators.
Regular checks by PHI to ensure that standards are being maintained.
This is an area the Better Business Center (Goal 8) can be involved in by scheduling site visits, maintaining a list of certified operators and publishing the guidelines and making it available to all operators in a region.
Clear and Consistent Information Given to Travellers
In order to attract travellers the Tourism Ministry in partnership with the police need to have a publicly available guideline for travel requirements that allow visitors to travel between districts. A communication hotline should be established to facilitate this and deal with on site problems. Too often the local offices are not informed of protocols and requirements. Too often a bribe is being offered to allow vehicles to pass which greatly increases risk for everyone.
Tourists leaving the airport are being made to pay ‘visa overstay’ fees despite it being published that visas have been extended during the crisis. There are corrupt agents looking to profit on the side from the confusion.
Develop a Travel Information Center (goal 8) so it can provide timely information and updates on an area, act as a hotline to field questions, and be a first line of defense for travellers in trouble.
There are many long term foreigners living in tourist areas who have adapted and integrated into local life. They could, in partnership with a local person with equal experience in foreign culture, provide this kind of support. This could be a hot line, whatsapp, or online chat in addition to a physical office.
Promote this number and information so that resident tourists, expats and embassies can get relevant information. Having it staffed by a mix of locals and resident foreigners with legal work visas will immediately build trust.