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Raids on ‘Foreigners Only’ hotels, managements to be prosecuted

The Tourist Police, with the assistance of the Local Government bodies, the Tourism Development Authority, and the Tourist Board, would conduct raids on restaurants, villas, and tourist lodges in the Southern tourist belt that cater only to foreigners and discriminate Sri Lankans saying ‘Foreigners Only,’ under the directive of the Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha.

The managements of tourist facilities who were found discriminating Sri Lankans during the raids will be prosecuted under the common law and Tourist Promotion law and their trade permits will be withdrawn.

A crucial discussion was held at the Local Government and Provincial Councils Ministry chaired by Minister Musthapha, where the decision to prevent what he described as the outcome of a ‘slavish or colonial mentality’ was taken.

Minister Musthapha pointed out that a large number of villas, restaurants and tourist lodges from Wadduwa to Tangalle have put up boards saying ‘Tourists Only’ in front of their facilities on the Southern Coast and restricted access to Sri Lankans, which is a violation of the Constitution, human rights, and confronts the dignity and self-respect of Sri Lankans.

“This cannot be accepted. We have experienced second-hand treatment at times in certain countries as Sri Lankans. It is impossible to keep exclusive areas for tourists alone and bar Sri Lankans, which is an affront to our national dignity,” Minister Musthapha added.

Officials of the Tourist Board and Tourism Development Authority pointed out that many of these establishments had not been duly registered with the Tourist Board and run on a Trade License obtained from the local government authority, which is also illegal.

Officers from the Tourist Police pointed out that the managements of these establishments tell when questioned that local tourists behave indecently and harass tourists and therefore, they have barred Sri Lankan tourists from their facilities.

However, it was revealed at the discussion that those excuses were a ruse to prove their point, and these kinds of incidents happen rarely.

The villas, lodges, and restaurants discriminating Sri Lankans were run mainly in Wadduwa, Hikkaduwa, Galle, Mirissa, Weligama, Habaraduwa, and Unawatuna, it was revealed.

Raids would be started from today and would continue until they are brought to justice. Officials of the Tourist Police will carry out raids with the help of officials of the respective local government body, Tourism Promotion Authority, and Sri Lanka Tourist Board.

The programme to eliminate this discrimination against Sri Lankans will be expanded to tourist areas in other parts of the country with the experience gained from these raids, Minister Musthapha added.

It was also revealed at the discussion that some tourist facilities with ‘Foreigners Only’ tags are owned by foreigners.

They do not pay taxes and income is taken out of the country without any contribution to the tourist industry or the economy.

It was also revealed that there are 14 tourist villas and restaurants at Weligama alone that cater only to foreigners.

A senior police officer pointed out that a person or establishment that discriminates against a Sri Lankan can be prosecuted under the provisions of the Constitution and Criminal Code.

The discussion was attended by Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Ministry Secretary Esala Weerakone, Local Government and Provincial Councils Secretary Kamal Pathmasiri, Southern Provincial Council Chief Secretary R. C. De Soyza, and representatives of the Tourist Hotel Association, Sri Lanka Tourist Board, and Tourism Promotion Authority.