Sri Lanka's Tourism Minister Harin Fernando. Photo/Times News

Sri Lankan minister apologises to 'beautiful Maldives' for boring remark

Fernando tweeted on Monday night that his comments ‘regarding the beautiful Maldive islands’ in Berlin were 'misrepresented on social media'.

14 March 2023

By Ahmed Mizyal

Sri Lankan tourism minister Harin Fernando on Monday apologised to the Maldives for his comments while promoting Sri Lanka at the ITB fair in Berlin 2023, the world's largest tourism fair.

Fernando 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.

Fernando's comments drew a lot of criticism, with Maldivian tourism minister Dr Abdullah Mausoom also making an indirect reply to Fernando’s comments saying that the Maldives has been crowned the world's most popular tourist destination for the last three years. 

Fernando tweeted on Monday evening that his comments "regarding the beautiful Maldive islands" in Berlin were taken "out of context" on social media.

"I wish to clarify that we work together with our neighbour [Maldives] on tourism," he said.

While Fernando apologised for his comments about the Maldives, Maldivians and Sri Lankans together criticised him on social media.