Kimarli resigns as SL Tourism Chair

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Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando resigned from her position yesterday (24), saying it is “regrettable and unprofessional ”that the newly-appointed Minister of Tourism Harin Fernando cancelled two tourism progress review meetings.

“I expect that with your appointment as Minister of Tourism on Friday (20), you would want to appoint your own Chairman and Board of Directors,” she hinted at the Minister.In her resignation letter, she said “We never met to review progress to guide the Minister on the best practices adopted, as the two meetings on 21 May and 23 May were cancelled.”

She said at a critical time for the Nation when tourism would provide the fastest hard currency benefits, the Minister had displayed a cavalier attitude and that does not bode well. “I hope I am proved wrong,” she said.

Fernando has been caught up in several controversies and even asked to step down from her post by the tourism stakeholders in the recent past. There were many who protested opposite her office, demanding her resignation.

But she claimed that a handful of veterans acting like a ‘cartel’ objected to SME benefits such as the proposed minimum wage, a fair transportation cost for tourism drivers, and obstructed the long overdue shit to digital marketing which they do not understand, promoting only the age-old pre-Internet trade show model.

“I pray such archaic practices will not continue to relegate this country to underperform
vis-à-vis its competitors.”

She pointed out that the ‘cartel’also didn’t like her attempt to account for the dollars into the country from tourism as well as dollars to be directed to hotels that have foreign currency borrowings.

She further said the industry accounts for approximately three million locals, many of whom are not represented in Associations.

Fernando served as the Chairperson for Sri Lanka Tourism for 30 months and also pointed out some of the significant achievements she had made for Sri Lanka Tourism, such as preparatory arrangements for the Global Promotion Campaign, the creation of the Travel App, and approval obtained from Cabinet to provide soft liquor licences for all SLTDA-registered entities among many others.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan