Tourism Minister downplays Sri Lankan counterpart’s comments

The Maldives Minister of Tourism Dr. Abdulla Mausoom has rebuffed statements made by his Sri Lankan counterpart Harin Fernando about Maldives tourism.

Speaking to local news outlet ‘Mihaaru’, the minister said that the Sri Lankan minister’s comments did not have credence as the Maldives attracted repeater tourists in large numbers each year.

He also said the Sri Lankan minister’s comments were intended to cause any form of harm to the Maldivian tourism industry.

“I met him at the ITB fair. I thought he was a young and energetic minister. I don’t believe he meant anything by it; it looks like an offhanded comment that was just caught on camera,” Dr. Mausoom said.

The minister also said that such a comment will not affect the country’s tourism sector and said that the Maldives winning “World’s Leading Destination” three years in a row was a testament to it.

Dr. Mausoom further said that tourists are not ‘fed up’ with the Maldives, which is proven by the large number of repeater tourists the Maldives attracts every year.

“A lot of the tourists that come to the Maldives are ‘repeat tourists’. You will see me going to the airport personally from time to time to greet the tourists who come to the Maldives on their 40th or 50th visit. Most tourists visiting the country after Covid are repeat tourists.”

While speaking at a panel discussion at this year’s ITB Berlin, Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism and Lands, Harin Fernando said, “I know lots of people go to the Maldives… the Maldives just has the beach – I’m not criticizing – but if you stay there for five days, you get fed up of it. That’s it, you’re just on an island, you’re caught in one place. But in Sri Lanka, it’s not like that; there’s something for everyone.”

The Sri Lankan minister’s remarks were not received likely by the public of his country with many already criticizing Fernando for his remarks. Many have lambasted him calling that the attempt to deride another economy was not the right approach to promote one’s own tourism sector.

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