Sri Lanka in move to liberalise alcohol licenses to boost tourism

Provincial councils in Sri Lanka have been asked to liberalize beverage licenses to improve tourism receipts to the country, the government information office said.

Provincial councils were requested to liberalise beverage licenses during a meeting with Tourism and Aviation Minister Prasanna Ranatunga and Tourism and Aviation State Minister Arundika Fernando.

The provincial councils had called for targeted initiatives to boost the growth of religious tourism.

Former Tourism Minister John Amaratunga, now in the opposition, had also called for liberalisation to boost tourism earnings while he was in office.

Currently, restaurants and hotels must obtain specific types of licenses to retail, serve or allow consumption of alcoholic beverages.

At end-2018, the Excise Department had issued 705 hotel licenses and 862 hotel bar licenses, concentrated in the Colombo, Gampaha, Galle, Kalutara and Kandy districts.

Another 554 licenses had been issued to restaurants, 46 licenses for rest houses and 100 licenses for boutique villas.

The department collects revenue from the licenses and fines on offenders who violate the licensing system, and distributes the funds among provincial councils.

According to the country’s largest brewer Lion Brewery Ceylon there is a trend of tourists buying their alcohol from retailers, wine stores and taverns around resort areas, instead of at hotels or restaurants.

Hotels and restaurants charge premiums for the service, at times two to three times higher than retail prices.

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