Disagreements between Treasury Secretary DR.P.B Jayasundara and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa have led to the resignation of the latter from the chairmanship of three tourism institutions under the Ministry of Economic Development.
According to informed sources there have been disagreements between Dr. Jasundara, who is also the Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Development, and Dr. Godahewa, mainly about the ways in which promotional activities should be carried out.
“Most of the promotional activities planned by Dr. Godehewa as the Sri Lanka Chairman of Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) were rejected by Dr. Jayasundara on various grounds. This made Dr.godahewa frustrated,” an informed source told Mirror Business.
The press release issued by Dr. Godahewa announcing his resignation last week implied this fact as Godahewa had stressed the need to take the country’s tourism to a new height.
“Over the last two years we have almost doubled tourism arrivals, with the country reaching 855,975 arrivals in 2011 compared to 447,890 In 2009. We have improved infrastructure, improved the investment climate, reduced bureaucracy and red tape hindering development, addressed policy and regularly concerns and also introduced a very clear country branding and positioning strategy.”
“Now we need to take tourism to a new height. For that we need to constantly challenge the way we work and improve our products, services, structures and processes,” the press release noted.
The source also said, apart from trimming down of promotional activities planned by Dr. Godeahewa, Dr. Jayasundara has instructed all four tourism bodies to cut down official travel on promotional events.
The Economic Development Ministry has been reluctant to amalgamate all four tourism bodies— SLTDA, SLTPB, Sri Lanka Tourism Convention Bureau (SLTCB) and Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLTHM).
In 2010, a decision was made to initiate a process of amalgamating all 4 tourism institutes governed by Tourism Act No 38 of 2005 and Godahewa was made chairman of all four.
“But these are independent institutes with independent boards and separate staff. The amalgamation requires passing new legislation and probably due to some unavoidable circumstances this amalgamation process seems to have got delayed,” the press release by Godahewa said.
“I feel in this context I should give the ministry in charge of Tourism, an opportunity to revisit the idea of having one chairman for all 4 institutes. May be there is a possibility of greater focus in each of these institutes under a completely independent leadership and structure,” it also said.