Saturday, June 16, 2018

Foreigners should NOT be treated any differently than locals in pricing entrance fees –– read on for an alternative:

Philosophically I am unabashedly opposed to this discrimination, especially because most foreigners appreciate our Scintillating Biodiversity and Archaeology, unparalleled and unique on this earth. 

I have traveled the world, I cannot recall an instance, where I was charged more than locals. However I have had to pay high visa fees as a Sri Lankan citizen!

Now comes the news that New Zealand is expected to introduce a charge on all foreigners entering the Country, except for Australians and Pacific Islanders. The reason for this charge is to help conserve their heritage sites and beauty, in a manner that is appropriate and sustainable, and reduce over visitation.


If we charge US$100 per adult and US$50 per child under 18, at entry, with exceptions for Indian and Chinese citizens, we could use this money raised to protect our Heritage. In my view our Heritage, is our Biodiversity and the 250,000 places of Archeological Interest that is fast disappearing never to re-appear!

No one is going to begrudge us that charge, No one. Why exceptions for India and China? Well China lend us most of the money, and India is the Country we import most from, and whose multinational companies we hope will have their world HQs at the Port City once it will be shown to the obvious place for them. For my foreign friends who come to Sri Lanka more than 5 times in a 365 day period if you prove this upon entry you get a special pass with your passport number and validity period to treat you as a special guest. Of course if you want to get the book you still pay the US$100 for the privilege.

We must have a 50 year plan not one that covers tomorrow, which is abandoned the day after when some group shouts loudly.

If I was in charge of administering this scheme, I will provide each payer of US$100 a 250page coffee table book on the 100 sites off the beaten track that draw the least interest, and not ones even more than 100 Sri Lankans of today even know about. I will then have the chance to present them in a way that manages, the beauty, enjoyment of the tourist, using local guides in those obscure villages to show, only permit light vehicles to enter and provide an experience that is unparalleled. This book once digested will feel worth more than the US$100 they pay for the privilege of being told about them, and then not being discriminated when they enter a National Park or some such.

If you readers are open mouthed at this, trust me the US have sites that draw visitors, no one in SL will pay to see! We have 100K sites more pleasurable than that. So the 10 most overvisited sites will not get a mention in this book!

PS - I recently went to Bambarakanda Falls, and saw a foreign kid who had with his ruck sack hiked up all the way from the main road (2km climb) look aghast at some jerk at the entrance ask for a fee 8 times that of a local!  DON'T DO IT


Anonymous said...

Definitely - goes without saying

Anonymous said...

Our tourist business owners, none of whom drive around in a car valued at less than RS10M don't understand their own guests' concerns - so they don't even make an issue of this. Shame on them, who can really benefit from a discrimination free country. Sri Lanka is discriminating against the very customers who come to hotels as guests of our country.

I thought we were warm and welcoming, not heartless and chasing out, of foreigners

Anonymous said...

Shame on Sri Lanka when members of the same family are treated differently at entrances everywhere, because of the lack of ID cards. It is very embarrassing and worse humiliating.

Don't decision makers understand the importance of non discrimination?

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

If a charge on foreigners is not practical, then how about a Heritage Pass, valid for one month, obtainable on arrival soon after passing immigration, at the same rates as discussed. This pass will have the period stamped and the passport number typed up and payable by credit card also, as most people don't have the right currency or cash, and no one wants confusion on the cost. This will allow unlimited access to all sights for a 30 day period.

Sigiriya on the other hand needs a special pre booking system to control over visitation and local charges have to rise as well in order to prevent a black market arising. No point charging a local Rs20, when he or she pays Rs2,000 for the day trip to get there!

Anonymous said...

Locals should get in free because 1. This is the work of their ancestors so to be charged to access it is insulting and 2. The tax burden in Sri Lanka is crushing of the common man so their tax contributions should be considered as payment to enter these spaces.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the person above suffers from the Island mentality. If locals can behave in all these sights maybe. If it is free they will even value their culture less. Sri Lankans only value things if they are charged. The more they are charged the more they value. Look at free education, free health and all the other free programs.

Further they are great believers in the motto "cheap things no good and good things no cheap"

So if foreigners who enjoy wildlife, are more likely to hire a jeep and go to less used parks more often in their 30day stay than try the hopelessly overcrowded ones just once as the charges are too high.

In every sense of the word, it will benefit Sri Lanka as only people who value this country will also come as they have to pay a charge of $100 on entry. After all the Country is worth ten times that. But discriminatory entry is effectively illegal, as different people are treated just on what passport they have for some places. Until you arrive you don't know if you are discriminated against. The joker above obviously has not faced this in his life, and so does not even understand how he would feel. Let him be discriminated and he will be mad

Anonymous said...

From experience, very high spending tourists who spend a month travelling in Sri Lanka if they value the biodiversity, will come in larger numbers when they know they will not be hassled at each gate they enter. They are too valuable to face discrimination everywhere. They will come in large numbers if there is either an entry at airport charge, or if there is a $100 pass for all activities, so they only pay the local rate upon entry.

A high spending tourist is worth more than 20 low spending ones. So forget this silly 5M numbers game as the country does not even have the carrying capacity for that and that has nothing to do with hotel rooms, it is to do with crowding in other places.

We are killing our tourism product because people who have no clue seem to run and decide the rules regarding hospitality. Very few who come ever return, due to the experience we give them and a lot has to do with dual prices at entry as well as hassling tourists where ever they go, and being overcharged everywhere.

Three wheeler experience is a nightmare.

Now is the time to change thinking drastically to actually provide what tourists want, and not what people in Sri Lanka want

Anonymous said...

I think your $100 pass is a brilliant idea for visitors to Sri Lanka and the book is perfect, setting the visitors up for something special. It takes the hassle out of travel for the visitors and sets them out on an adventure unlike any other. They will then only have to deal with aggressive tuk tuk and bus drivers and offensive touts as they try to blissfully enjoy the flora and fauna of the island.

For the locals, I strongly disagree about charges. The taxes charged the locals on every aspect of their daily living are enough to justify free entry everywhere. If you like, the locals should be issued a pass and booklet every year in the post following tax season, and 2 billion rupees should be set aside for cultural preservation on their behalf. now, this 2 billion would likely be squandered on all manner of loosely related "cultural preservation" expenses including foreign junkets, lavish parties, and 4 wheel drive vehicles while the culture slowly turns to dust, so our issue is one of good public management as much as funds.