Shut down of hospitality sector looms over import ban: Hotel Suppliers Association

Sri lankan Hospitality from dale philip

(From Daily FT)

The hospitality industry is fearing a complete shut down following the recent ban on imports.

The Hotel Suppliers Association (HSA) President Azad Mansoor told the Daily FT that 95% of its members are of SME category providing 200,000 direct employment and a further 500,000 indirectly and the latest import ban spells doom for the industry.

It was pointed out that items such as food and beverage, toilet rolls, paper napkins, facial tissues, hand towels, operational goods such as glassware, cutlery, kitchen and bar utensils and certain types of table top equipment such as blenders and toasters, kitchen equipment such as high pressure stoves, cookers, ovens, refrigerators, chillers, etc., laundry equipment such as washers, dryers and flatbed irons, chemicals such as greases, cleaning tablets and liquids, linen such as towels, duvets covers, and fabric for manufacturing bed sheets, etc., are among hundreds of items brought under the import ban.Mansoor said the ban will stifle the smooth functioning of the hotel industry and maintain service stands.

“HSA members had placed orders and shipments are in transit and unlikely to reach by the stipulated 14 September deadline for clearance whilst some are yet to be shipped out. Most of the hotels had begun placing their orders and most of these goods are not available in the market,” Mansoor added.

HSA recommends a special window for clearing of products already ordered for the hospitality industry.

The latest ban comes at a time when the industry is gearing to welcome more tourists following relaxation of travel advisories by UK, France, Switzerland and Norway and upcoming winter season. “A successful hassle-free season will help quicker revival of the tourism industry which has been battered by multiple crises starting from 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, COVID pandemic and political and economic crisis,” HAS President Mansoor emphasised.

The Government last week slapped a temporary ban on the import of products from over 360 categories in a bid to save foreign exchange and support local manufacturers.

The move was announced via special regulations yesterday under the Imports and Exports Control Act by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies.

As per these regulations (“Imports and Exports (Control) Regulations No. 13 of 2022”) importation of specified goods will be temporarily suspended effective from 23 August until further notice. However, the goods specified which have been shipped on board with the date of Bill of Lading/Airway Bill on or before 23 August and arrived at any sea ports or airports in Sri Lanka on or before 14 September, will be allowed for Customs clearance.