Business as usual for Sri Lanka even as country grapples with constitutional crisis

A previous edition

Sri Lanka, currently in the grip of a constitutional crises which led to the sacking of the prime minister, woke up on Monday to a business-as-usual scenario amid a sea of uncertainty.

“So far we have had no cancellations,” said a hotel manager at a five-star hotel in Colombo. While this view was similar to other hotels in the city, another manager pointed out that the “situation would only become clearer in the next 48 hours”.

A previous edition of the Cinnamon TBC Asia

Meanwhile for Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators’ president Harith Perera, it was business as usual and no major cancellations have been reported.

He was also confident that the November launch of a new logo and slogan for the country’s new destination marketing campaign, So Sri Lanka, would go ahead as scheduled on November 5 at the World Travel Mart (WTM) in London.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s sudden dismissal of prime minster Ranil Wickremesinghe and the appointment of former president and current parliamentarian Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place last Friday has caused confusion in the administration. Furthermore, Wickremesinghe is also refusing to quit, saying that he was removed unconstitutionally. Currently, Wickremesinghe has been suspended till November 16.

These developments have not impacted a five-day event, Cinnamon TBC Asia 2018, which brought 61 influential bloggers from 40 countries to Sri Lanka. They have been visiting parts of the country since last Thursday, and the event ends with a conference at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo today.

“We have some influential bloggers visiting us and they have been travelling around the country. They have not been affected by the events and it’s also a good opportunity to show the world that it is business as usual here,” said Dileep Mudadeniya, a key organiser of the conference from the Cinnamon Hotels group. Keynote speakers from CNN, Google and Expedia are due to grace the day-long conference.

Meanwhile, Lanka Exhibition & Conference Services’ CEO Aasim Mukthar said this is generally a low season for business events, with the advent of the peak season (November-February) for Western European travellers.

“There are not many business events, excluding incentives, happening these months,” he said, adding that the situation could change with travel advisories.

For instance, the UK Government updated its travel advisory on Sri Lanka over the weekend, urging British travellers to “exercise vigilance and avoid all demonstrations or large political gatherings”.

Several countries have also urged Sri Lanka to allow the due constitution process to continue, and to ensure law and order.

Sirisena is due to appoint a new cabinet of ministers today, comprising mainly members of parliament from his party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka People’s Front. The cabinet, which includes the tourism portfolio, earlier comprised mainly members of Wickremesinghe’s United National Party.

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