Sirisena was declared the Chief Guest in the invitation and his absence comes amidst rumours that tourism industry leaders were contemplating a boycott given his pre-announced presence at a time when the country is in the grip of an unprecedented political crisis.
Though reason for President’s absence wasn’t revealed his Chief of Staff H.M. Hitisekara represented him at the ceremony.
Incidentally MP and former Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga participated in the ceremony organised by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authorityand gave away a few awards at the start.
“Due to the political instability, we didn’t want to invite any politician to the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards. However, on the recommendation of Ministry Secretary, we invited President Sirisena as the head of State to participate as the Chief Guest and the former Tourism Development Minister and former SLTDA Chairman,” industry sources told the Daily FT.
“President Sirisena was to participate in the event and his security personnel was here at the venue from 10.00a.m. But at the last moment we were told that he was not coming,” he added.
Ironically, it was announced last night by the Government that a circular had been issued under the advice of President Maithripala Sirisena to all ministries, departments and boards not to use luxury hotels for their events and meetings. The Tourism Awards were held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo.
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