Chairman of tourism-heavy Aitken Spence PLC, Harry Jayawardena called for a wage subsidy model from the government to safeguard the livelihoods of nearly half a million people employed in the leisure industry, which has been dealt a double whammy—first with the Easter attacks in 2019, and then the COVID-19 pandemic since last year.
The fresh call from Aitken Spence, one of the largest resort operators in Sri Lanka and Maldives, comes as the industry grapples with extended disruptions to its business due to the virus resurgence in April.
Sri Lankan tourism sector employs over 400,000 people directly and indirectly, and accounts for 4.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The virus related restrictions pushed over half a million into poverty last year alone, the Finance Ministry said last week.
“Safeguarding livelihoods to craft our recovery was key as we recognise that our employees are the drivers of success. Therefore, there was an understanding that we would safeguard the quality and the level of their livelihoods by protecting jobs,” Jayawardena said.