The criticism of Maldives tourism made by the country’s minister of tourism, Mr. Harin Fernando, while recently attending a forum on the subject in Germany, has received a lot of attention on social media.
In comparison to the Maldives, Mr. Fernando reportedly said in Germany that Sri Lanka had much more to offer tourists. I know a lot of people went to the Maldives, he said. Maldives only has a beach—and I should add that I’m not criticizing—but after five days there, you get bored of it. I’m done now. You are merely trapped on an island, stuck in one location. Maldivians, including influential political parties and politicians, were incensed by the minister’s remark.
Ahmed Shaheed, a former UN Special Rapporteur responded in a tweet with the following statement: “Sure, if you cannot swim, dive, or understand what biodiversity is, or if you have no interest in a civilization that has lived in peace for at least 4 millennia, yes, you will get bored in 5 days! Marketing that is zero-sum is an own goal!
Maldives lawmaker Mohamed Shifau in a tweet response that served as an invitation to Mr. Fernando “I extend an invitation to the Sri Lankan minister of tourism to visit the Maldives, where they can take in the country’s top-notch service and beautiful coral gardens and white sand beaches. Verify that you have enough time.
It is also notable during this three day programme in Germany Sri Lankan Tourism minister Harin Fernando pose for photographs with the President of Maldive Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, and the Tourism and foreign minister of Maldives. However, after this news gained traction, Minister of Tourism Harin Fernando apologised to the Maldives for making a contentious remark at an international trade show, saying his remarks had been “taken out of context and misrepresented.”
“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,” Mr Fernando tweeted following the backlash he received for his comments made about the Maldives at the ITB Berlin in Germany.
Minister is reported to have not responded to the media calls which attempt to get his comments on his apology.