Tourism Ministry teams up with Tuk drivers


In an attempt to reign in Sri Lanka’s virtually unregulated tuk tuk industry, the Tourism Ministry is trying to create an accreditation for trained drivers.

On Thursday and Friday, about 100 drivers from the Colombo area went to workshops held by the Sri Lanka Tourist Three Wheeler Driver’s Association, which is supported by the Tourism Ministry.

“Most of the complaints we are receiving against tuk tuk drivers are related to high charges, and cheating,” said Chief Inspector Prabath Vidanagama, the Officer in Charge of the Tourist Police Division.

“But there’s no regulatory mechanism in this field,” he said. “So we are organizing a team, especially in the Colombo area, to combat this.”

Drivers went to seminars hosted at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management on topics like the history of Sri Lankan culture, interactions with police, basic language skills, and first aid.

“Once we take them into our framework, then they are always with us,” said Inspector Vidanagama. “If they want to keep the accreditation, they must follow the regulations.”

Vidanagama said the first 100 drivers will receive a sticker with a logo showing they are certified by the tourism ministry. The logo will be prominently displayed at Bandaranaike International Airport so tourists know to look for it.

“Tuk tuks offer a very important service to tourists in Sri Lanka,” said Tourism Minister John A.E. Amaratunga, addressing the drivers on Thursday. “This is a comprehensive measure by tourism authorities to address the problems in a sustainable way.”

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