Sri Lankan minister under fire over 'senseless' Maldives tourism comparison
The minister has been criticised not only by Maldivians but also by Sri Lankans for making such remarks about a neighboring country while he is the minister.
Sri Lanka's tourism minister Harin Fernando's comments criticising Maldives tourism at the ITB Berlin 2023 tourism fair held in Germany last week have drawn the ire of Maldivians and Sri Lankans.
Sri Lanka's tourism minister criticised the Maldives at a press conference held at the ITB Fair, highlighting the reasons why tourists should go to Sri Lanka.
“I know lots of people go to Maldives. Maldives just have the beach, I’m not criticising. But you stay there for five days and you get fed up of it," Fernando said.
Noting that unlike the Maldives, there are so many places to go and activities to do in Sri Lanka, Fernando said that tourists in Sri Lanka can experience a lot more.
The minister has been criticised not only by Maldivians but also by Sri Lankans for making such remarks about a neighbouring country.
Many noted that Maldives tourism and Sri Lanka's tourism were different and the target markets of the two countries were different as well. Some even said that in such a big international event, top officials from neighbouring countries should talk about each other with dignity.
"It is not necessary to criticise the Maldives to promote Sri Lanka... Maldives is a luxury tourism destination. It is a completely different kind of tourism [from Sri Lanka's tourism]. Sri Lanka is also beautiful on its own," a local tweeted.
"Promoting Sri Lanka by undermining a neighbouring and friendly country is a low-level act. With the Maldives, it would be better to see if the two countries can make high-end luxury tour packages together," said a Sri Lankan.
As part of Sri Lanka's efforts to tide over the economic crisis, tourism has started to improve and nearly the same number of tourists have started visiting the Maldives.
On an average, the number of tourists arriving in the Maldives per month is more than 150,000, up from 100,000 last month.