ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena has decreed that private hotels should not be used for state functions amid speculation that tourist industry officials were planning to boycott and event he was to attend.
President Sirisena was expected to be chief guest at Sri Lanka Tourism Awards ceremony at Shangri-La hotel in Colombo organized by the Sri Lanka tourism development agency which was being held after a break of six years. But he did not turn up.
Earlier in the week there was speculation that some participants had decided to boycott the event, which was denied by the tourism authority.
"Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority strongly refuses the allegations made by a website stating that tourism industry leaders have decided to boycott Sri Lanka Tourism Awards tomorrow as President Maithripala Sirisena has been invited as the Chief Guest," the agency said in a facebook post.
"The awards ceremony being the national event to recognize the valuable contributions made by individuals and organizations for the development of Tourism Industry in Sri Lanka, SLTDA is of the opinion that it is best to invite the Head of State amidst the prevailing situation."
President Sirisena plunged Sri Lanka into a political crisis on October 26, with the sudden appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister. He has since been suspended by courts.
Statutory Boards and all state agencies have been prohibited from using private and luxury hotels for state function by a circular issued on December 06, a statement from the President's office said.
There are many auditoriums and state agencies which could be used for state functions and meetings and it was a waste of money to hold functions in luxury hotels, the statement said.
The ban and loss of government business for hoteliers is coming amid complaints that some meeting and incentive travel events planned for Sri Lanka had been cancelled or delayed after a political crisis.
Arrivals for November however were up 17 percent with strong growth in the UK and Indian markets. (Colombo/Dec06/2018)