Hotels unfazed by the deprivation of state events

  • Not many state events at hotels anyway: THASL
  • President’s circular a response to ‘huge financial waste’
  • Finance Ministry has no data on costs incurred on hotel events

By Madhusha Thavapalakumar

The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) is confident that the circular issued by President Maithripala Sirisena prohibiting the holding of state functions at luxury hotels will not have a considerable impact on the hotel sector.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, THASL Chairman Sanath Ukwatte said: “State entities do not have lots of functions at hotels.”

He added that THASL had no plans to meet the President in this regard as the ban would not have a considerable impact on the sector.

President Maithripala Sirisena issued a circular on Thursday (06) banning usage of private hotels – especially luxury hotels – by all the state institutions including the ministries, departments, and statutory boards to conduct their events.

According to the President’s Media Division, the move was taken to prevent and control the huge financial waste as well as to control Government expenditure on holding these events at expensive venues instead of using the auditoriums and institutions that come under the Government.

However, when contacted, the Director General of the Department of State Accounts at the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media K.D.R. Olga said that neither her department nor the Finance Ministry had ever compiled statistics of expenses incurred by state entities in hosting events at hotels.

“We do not have such statistics because there are lots of state-owned institutions. No one collects data about the financial records of events conducted by the state-owned institutions.”

The timing of the issuance of the circular was interesting, as it came while the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards ceremony was being conducted at the Shangri-La Hotel after a gap of six years. President Sirisena was slated to be the Chief Guest at the event but cancelled at the last minute. Earlier in the week, a website reported that many tourism industry leaders had decided to boycott the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards ceremony, as President Sirisena was invited as the Chief Guest.

This report was immediately denied by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), saying that more than 400 invitees had already confirmed their participation for the ceremony.

Ukwatta too denied this report, terming it political propaganda.

“The entire industry was there and it was more than expected. That was some political propaganda. They all came to prove these rumours wrong.”

The President’s Chief of Staff H.M. Hitisekara represented the President at the ceremony.