- Industry welcomes majority of appointments to SLTPB, SLTDA, SLCB and SLITHM
- Popular artiste Iraj Weeraratne’s original appointment to SLTPB cites wrong Act but subsequently rectified
- Industry analysts claim SLTPB by law can only have 11 Board Members and Minister cannot appoint anyone of his choice
- Officials claim Minister and bureau have provisions for appointment
By Charumini de Silva
The boards of directors of key tourism agencies have been reconstituted, with many welcoming the majority of the appointments while a few greeted them with upraised eyebrows.
The industry has welcomed the decision to make one person, Kimarli Fernando, the head of all four institutions as Chairperson to offer proper leadership, achieve greater effectiveness and maintain better coordination.
The four institutions are the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) and the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM).
By statute, the majority of the director positions are ex-officio or comprise nominees of relevant industry associations.
The new SLTDA Board comprises Chandani Werapitiya - SLTDA Director General (under Section 10 of the Tourism Act); R.M.W.S. Samaradiwakara - Additional Secretary, Tourism Development Ministry/Representative, Secretary to the Treasury/Representative; M. Shanthikumar - Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL); Tilak Weerasinghe - SL Inbound Tour Operators Association (SLAITO); Channe Wijemanne - Travel Agent Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL); Ishan Jayasekara - Person possessing experience and knowledge in the field (Minister's nomination); and S. Hettiarachchi - Secretary to the Ministry of Provincial Council/Representative.
The SLTPB Board comprises Werapitiya – DG, SLTDA (Under Section 10 of Tourism Act); Managing Director of the SLTPB (established under Section 40 of the Tourism Act), Secretary to the Treasury/Representative; Dileep Mudadeniya (THASL), Angeline Ondaatjie (THASL); D. Chaminda Wickramasinghe (THASL); Mahen Kariyawasam (SLAITO); Nalin Jayasundara (SLAITO); Yolande Anne Hansen (SLAITO), Uma Niranjanan - Director (Planning), Ministry (Secretary to the Tourism Ministry/Representative) and Iraj Weeraratne (Minister's nominee).
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga incorrectly cited Section 43 (2) of Tourism Act No. 38, which is for the SLCB, for the appointment of Weeraratne to the SLTPB. It was this original letter of appointment which did the rounds on social media.
This lapse had been subsequently rectified and a fresh letter correctly listing Section 40 (2) of Tourism Act No. 38 of 2005 for the Promotion Bureau was issued.
However, industry sources said that the Promotions Bureau Act stipulates only 11 directors and the appointment of Weeraratne makes it 12, prompting analysts to claim it was illegal. However, official sources said that the Minister had the provisions to appoint someone. The Act appears to place the onus on the bureau and not the Minister. It states that the bureau may, with the approval of the Minister, appoint such officers or servants to assist the bureau in carrying out its duties.
While the industry acknowledges Weeraratne as a talented artiste and media expert, his appointment is largely linked to the supportive role he played in the victory of SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The Board of the SLCB comprises Chandani Werapitiya – Director General, SLTDA (under Section 10 of the Tourism Act); Sunil Dissanayake – Director General, BMICH; P.S. Manesh Fernando - THASL; Gayangi Wirasinha - SLAITO; Shibani R. Thambiayah - Colombo City Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka; Dimuthu Tennakoon – Executive, SriLankan Airlines; Prof. Janitha A. Liyanage - General President of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science; Saman Warusavithana – President, Organisation of Professional Association; Ruwan Edirisinghe – President, Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry; C.H. Gamage - Senior Assistant Secretary, Ministry (Secretary to the Tourism Ministry/Representative ) and Dr. D.M. Ajith Dissanayaka (under Section 43 (4), the minister in charge of the subject of Tourism may in his discretion appoint a person who is the Chairman or President of an association representing an under-represented sector of the industry as a member of the Board).
The SLITHM Board comprises S.L.M. Hazeem – Director, Tourism Development Ministry, Acting Director General, SLITHM (under Section 36 of the Tourism Act); Chandani Werapitiya – Director General, SLTDA (under Section 10 of the Tourism Act); Bandula Ekanayake (THASL); Bazeer Cassim (THASL); Suresh Mendis (TAASL); Nishad Wijetunga (SLAITO); P.A.M.B. Priyal Perera (Ceylon Hotel School Graduate Association); Eksath Wijeratne (Ceylon Hotel School Graduate Association); Thissa Gunawardena (Minister's Representative); Dr. Dinushan Wanniarachchi (Minister's Representative); and D.L. Sannasooriya - Additional Secretary (Administration), Ministry (Secretary to the Tourism Ministry/Representative).