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8. Setting up SL Tourism Sponsored Centers for Consumer Affairs and Better Business.

  • One of the most vital goals is to enhance the current Tourist Information Center (TIC) into a multi-faceted center to aid the growing needs of both travelers and operators. It needs to be staffed by locals with a good understanding of English as well as foreigners. Volunteers, resident expats or expat spouses would work well here. There are lots of travelling volunteers that would do this. Female staff for women’s issues should be available. Involvement of the Tri Forces or Tourist Police in establishing security would be useful.

  • The center will be an extension of the SLTDA whereby a portion of fees paid by local operators will go directly towards funding the local center. Then communities will directly feel their involvement will bring about change. This will also encourage more membership in the SLTDA.

  • Many SME operators will not register as SLTDA entities because they don't see a correlation of the fees they pay and the benefits they get. This Center will show tangible results of member contributions.

  • There should be a goal to establish a center in every popular tourist zone across the island.

The Tourist Information & Safety Center

  • While there are Tourist Information Centers established in the country there needs to be a center specifically in each popular tourist zone. This center will address specific needs such as safety issues with regard to sexual harassment, initimidation of resident visa holders and expats and those that fall pray to scams.

  • While the tourist police are set up to receive these complaints the victim often feels alienated and alone in this process. The Center will be the first stop and will assign a case agent to help a victim through the harrowing process and language issues faced when having to report to the police, the general hospitals or the court.

The Better Business Center

  • This unit is a Consumer Protection initiative that serves both travellers and business owners.

  • Local business owners also fall prey to extortion, intimidation and physical abuse by corrupt locals looking to exploit unknowing business owners. Operators, especially foreign investors and operators will have a starting point to go with their issues and case agents will aid them in taking their complaints forward to the police and court if necessary.

  • In a similar way tourists can also be exploited by hotels, transport, restaurants and tour companies. Complaints coming here against operators will result in an investigation by a case agent and follow through on legal channels. Businesses that are marked as exploitative will have a case file against them and they will be marked as such until the case is either addressed or dismissed.

  • If a business is discovered to be conducting malpractices, then the operators licence can be revoked/suspended and penalties will be applied. There must be a serious penalty enacted in order for business to comply and there also needs to be an equivalent benefit given for businesses to become members.

  • The Better Business Center will streamline the process of renewing business operation licenses.

  • We need to tap into Sri Lanka's IT infrastructure to develop a system that will take all license renewals online across all areas of tourism requirements.

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