Shake-up at Sri Lanka Tourism: Udaya given marching orders


By Harischandra Gunaratna

Christian Religious Affairs and Tourism Minister John Amaratunga yesterday said Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara had been asked to resign. He attributed his decision to the government’s tourism restructuring programme.

Nanayakkara, contacted for comment last night, said, "I’m sitting pretty in my office. It’s news to me."

However, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Kavan Ratnayake, who is a sibling of Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake, will remain in his current position in spite of the government’s restructuring programme.

Nanayakkara, who was the Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman under the President Chandrika Bandaranaike government, is a veteran in the industry.

Minister Amaratunga said Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau (SLCB) Chairman Prema Cooray, another veteran in the industry had also resigned.

"We have to replace some officials with performance oriented go-getters if the industry is to achieve its goals in a highly competitive market environment; unfortunately Sri Lanka is in the lowest rung where arrivals were concerned in the region," said Minister Amaratunga.

Amaratunga, however, conceded that in 2017 there had been around 100,000 more tourist arrivals than in the previous year.

Asked whether the decision to remove Nanayakkara was a politically motivated one, Amaratunga answered in the negative.

Asked whether he had become a political victim, Nanayakkara rhetorically asked whether any such thing was possible under the yahapalana government.

Dismissing allegations levelled by the tourism minister, Nanayakkara said that during the five and a half months with him at the helm, the SLTPB had launched a successful digital marketing campaign internationally for six months. Asimilar campaign had been launched locally for two and a half years, he added.

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