Sri Lankan Tourism Minister Harin Fernando has apologized for the ‘joke’ he made regarding Maldivian tourism – remarking the island destination to be a boring place.
In a tweet issuing his apology on Monday, Fernando said his remarks regarding the Maldives at Internationale Tourismus Börse (ITB) held in Berlin, Germany, from March 7th to March 9th, while promoting Sri Lanka as a tourist destination – had been taken out of context.
He further stated Sri Lanka worked alongside neighboring countries on tourism and apologized for any inconveniences his remarks may have caused.
My statement made in Berlin regarding the beautiful Maldive islands has been taken out of context and been misrepresented on social media. I wish to clarify that we work together with our neighbor on tourism and would like to apologize for any inconvenience caused— Harin Fernando (@fernandoharin) March 13, 2023
Speaking at ITB fair, Fernando compared tourism in the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
“But the Maldives just have the beaches. You stay there for five days and you get fed up of it. You're just in an island, you're caught up in one place. In Sri Lanka it's not like that,” he said.
"But The Maldives just have the beaches...you stay there for five days and you get fed up of it. You're just in an island, you're caught up in one place. In Sri Lanka it's not like that" - part of #SriLanka tourism Minister's pitch at ITB Berlin global tourism gathering... (1/2) https://t.co/9zV3QZQjUF— Anush Wijesinha (@anushwij) March 12, 2023
He immediately came under fire for the remarks – with many criticizing his insensitive on social media. Some, who were critiquing Fernando, said it was unacceptable to degrade the tourism of Maldives while the nation is neighbors with Sri Lanka. Many also said it would be smart for Sri Lanka to work towards the successes Maldives has achieved in terms of tourism.
Maldivian Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom had indirectly clapped back at Fernando via a tweet in which he said Maldives had been World’s Leading Destination consecutively in the past three years.