Sri Lanka’s tourism sector in C-suite shake-up

Sigiriya or Sinhagiri is an ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District pictured

Sri Lanka last week made two significant decisions impacting on its emerging tourism market, appointing a new head to its state tourism promotion agency and removing the CEO of its loss-making national carrier.

Both institutions are key to the country’s tourism promotion with 2.5 million arrivals targeted this year.

Dehan Seneviratne, a veteran marketing and management consultant, has been appointed as chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) on June 4. He replaces Udaya Nanayakkara, who was forced to quit in January 2018 after just six months in the job, due to disagreements over the long-delayed destination marketing campaign with tourism minister John Amaratunga.

Two heads of important tourism institutions have been replaced; Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress in the northern Matale District, pictured

Seneviratne’s appointment comes at a critical time as Sri Lanka’s tourism promotion campaigns finally got underway earlier this month starting with a promotion blitz through CNN.

SriLankan Airlines chairman Ranjit Fernando confirmed to TTG Asia that CEO Suren Ratwatte, who has been criticised in the past for extravagant spending, is stepping down in August. “We are interviewing a couple of local and foreign candidates for the post,” Fernando said.

Fernando stated that the 2017/2018 financial year ending March saw a loss of US$105 million but that a restructuring plan submitted by Nyras, an aviation consultancy, is underway. There are plans to turn around the loss-making airline in two to three years with “some hard decisions”.

In a circular to staff last week, Fernando said the board of directors has decided to make changes to the structure of the top management team.

“There will be a new chief for the commercial division. Our fully owned subsidiary, the catering company, is led by a part-time CEO. We have already engaged a new CFO, who will assume office shortly. There will also be some minor reallocation of responsibilities in the organisational structure,” he said.

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