Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is unlikely to allow the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) continue its hospitality service running hotels enticing tourists, the government said on Friday.
Sports and Tourism Minister Navin Dissanayaka told the Business Times that the PM was “not into the army doing business.” He noted that in terms of an economic model it would not hold well for the SLA to be engaged in business activities.
Currently, the SLA is involved in running a number of hotels under the Laya chain of hotels with Laya Beach in Wadduwa, Laya Leisure in Kalutara, Laya Safari in Yala and Laya Waves, set to open soon, in Kalkudah.
Commenting on the operations of Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Helitours however, Mr. Dissanayaka said “as long as Helitours is not using unethical practices to use market share” they could continue their operations. He also pointed out that there were allegations against Helitours carrying out operations through unethical practices.
Competing against six other local carriers, the SLAF operations could not just be closed down at once, according to the minister. He noted, “You can’t just close that” and later when pressed on how this operation was not deemed a commercial operation compared to the SLA run hotels, he replied “I have no answers for that”.
Asked about the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) currently involved in the whale watching business, the minister believed this operation should continue. The SLN currently is involved in whale watching cruises from Galle and Trincomalee aboard the “Princess of Lanka” passenger craft.