Baswara Gunaratne, currently Director of the Department of Zoological Gardens, has been appointed Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, politician and film industry personality Neil Rupasinghe as head of the Sri Lanka Tourism Convention Bureau and hotel industry veteran Chandra Mohotti as Chairman of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management, officials at the Ministry of Economic Development confirmed.
Dr Godahewa, who continues as Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, said in a resignation statement that he was stepping down owing to a delay in the planned amalgamation of all four institutions into one unit. However industry sources said that his resignation follows a long dispute over the need for an international marketing and promotion budget which has been turned down by Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, who is also Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Development.
While Mr Mohotti, Senior Vice President at the Galle Face Hotel Group, brings a lot of industry experience to his new position, Mr Gunaratne’s involvement in tourism is as a current board member of all the four institutions. All three have been given the option of continuing in currently held positions, Ministry officials said.
Mr Gunaratne recently faced criticism from environmentalists over a decision to hand over more than a dozen elephants from the Pinnawala elephant orphanage to private parties. He has said that it was a cabinet approved decision.