Minister Amaratunga accuses Rajapaksa regime of jeopardising tourism industry


By Harischandra Gunaratna


Tourism Minister John Amaratunga yesterday accused the Rajapaksa regime of not having paid money owed to leading international television channels Al Jazeera, Sky and Bloomberg among others to the tune of USD500 million for adverts carried by them to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination, thus leaving the future campaigns and the country’s credibility as a tourism destination in South Asia in jeopardy.

Amaratunga addressing journalists at a news conference to announce the forthcoming PATA Asia Conference at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) (formerly Ceylon Hotel School) said the campaigns planned on international television had to be suspended as a result of this and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau had taken a decision to pay the money to the respective channels.


"Otherwise our promotional campaigns would be hampered and Sri Lanka perhaps would be blacklisted by these reputed channels," he said.

The money was owed to the three television channels for adverts carried during the period 20 September 2014 to early 2015, he said.

The veteran politician told journalists that by 2030 there would be 1.8 billion holidaymakers travelling around the world to their favoured destinations and that tourism was fast becoming one of the fast growing and most lucrative businesses and emphasised the need to vigorously promote the country as a destination.

Amaratunga was quite positive that earnings from the tourism industry this year would surpass last year’s Rs.3.5 billion.

Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Sutheash Balasubramaniam said it would concentrate on promotional campaigns initially in Europe and later India and China and SLTPB would also depend on online marketing as well as web based promotions.

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