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Following last week’s article in The Nation regarding illegal Chinese tourist guides who were pushing local guides out of employment, and subsequent media exposure, authorities have been jolted into taking action.

Accordingly, a meeting was convened on Tuesday (August 25) at Sri Lanka Tourism Head Office in Colombo to discuss the issue. Representatives of tourist guides, tourism officials including those from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), the Tourist Police as well as representatives of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) were present at the discussion.

Director General of SLTDA, Malraj Kiriella said at last Tuesday’s meeting, officials acknowledged there were several issues that needed to be dealt with. “However, this is not a problem that we can tackle by ourselves. There needs to be cooperation between different government entities, including the Department of Immigration and Emigration to address this issue. We will be working with all stakeholders to bring about a solution,” he said.

In last week’s issue, The Nation reported how Chinese nationals were illegally operating as tourist guides for Chinese tour groups, pushing local Chinese Speaking tourist guides out of employment. It was also disclosed that Chinese nationals had expanded their operations to opening up unregistered travel companies, gem shops and guest houses. Local Chinese speaking tourist guides said they had written to authorities and sought meetings with them, but had not met with a favorable response.