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POSTED AT 02:51 PM 07-02-2019

Two to tango for Kishu Gomes

Tourism Minister John Amaratunga presents the letter of appointment to Kishu Gomes

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has decided to make the popular corporate personality Kishu Gomes the Chairman of both the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).

Gomes was previously recommended to head only the SLTPB.  However, sources said that Prime Minister had recommended one person to oversee the two organisations, which was the case several years ago before the Chairmanship was split. 

The formal letter of appointment to Gomes was presented by Tourism Minister John Amaratunga yesterday.

The latest development follows an earlier handover ceremony, which was cancelled abruptly on the basis that Prime Minister wanted to study the recommended appointments further. This caused concern within the industry. Previously, industry veteran Ranjit De Silva was recommended to head the SLTDA.

The marketing-savvy Gomes ended a 22-year stint at Chevron Lubricants Lanka PLC last year, where he was last the Managing Director/CEO.

A Fellow member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK, he holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK. 

He was a Past President of the American Chamber of Commerce and held the position of Senior Vice-Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK local branch.

Gomes told the Daily FT that he accepted the public sector position to serve the nation with the blessings from the industry. More recently, he chaired the panel of judges for the first ever National Tourism Awards competition. 

«Tourism is one sector which has tremendous growth potential, and can thereby boost foreign exchange, jobs and income for the people,» Gomes said.

He emphasised that greater unity on the part of the industry, sound policies, and swifter implementation of initiatives will help propel the tourism sector to deliver the desired contribution to the economy. 

The SLTPB and SLTDA will have separate Boards of Directors, though Gomes will chair both. SLTDA will focus on the development of Sri Lanka as a tourism destination, while SLTPB’s responsibility is effective marketing.

He urged the private sector and other stakeholders to share their ideas for the development of the tourism industry via a holistic master plan. 

«Fast-tracking implementation of approved projects and those planned is an immediate priority, along with roll-out of the global marketing campaign,» Gomes said, adding that non-traditional markets will be a special focus. 

He is of the firm belief that the diverse tourism offering in Sri Lanka can be substantially enhanced with proper initiatives, enabling niche segments to grow faster. According to him, segments such as wellness, heritage, religious tourism, weddings and honeymoons, and MICE have great potential. «If properly strategised, these segments can attract new local and foreign investors,» Gomes said adding, that the recent depreciation of the Rupee has enhanced the attractiveness of Sri Lanka. «We will focus on both quality of tourists, enhancing their spending, as well drawing more numbers,» said Gomes, who is scheduled to meet industry associations, starting from next week.

In a related development, airline industry veteran Kumar de Silva will continue to lead the Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau (SLCB), and professional Dilip de Silva will head Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM).

The overlooked De Silva was once Marketing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board, Senior Manager Communications at SriLankan Airlines, and CEO of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau. Industry sources said that he will receive a new position shortly.

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