Despite the fact that Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Priantha Fernando stated that he had written to the Inspector General of Police about a recent incident in Galle involving a police officer chasing tourists away from a fueling station, Police Media Spokesman, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), and Attorney-at-Law (AAL) Nihal Thalduwa stated that no such letter had been received from the SLTDA.
He charged that the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) should, first of all, implement a proper system for issuing fuel to tourists and inform the Police accordingly.
“But we would investigate the incident reported on social media,” Thalduwa added.
However, SLTDA Chairman Priantha stated he has written to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) over an incident where, in a video clip, a police officer is seen chasing away tourists, refusing to provide fuel. He said the SLTDA lodged a complaint with the IGP over the incident, which took place last Friday (1).
Fernando said a video is being circulated on social media showing a senior police officer refusing to allow a tourist on a motorbike to get fuel from a fuelling station in Galle.
“This video clip has been in circulation reaching millions of people not only in Sri Lanka but in most foreign countries. It has created a major negative impact from a tourism perspective, surmounting irreparable damage at a time when we are doing our very best to ensure that tourists do not undergo any harassment and inconvenience in spite of the economic difficulties that we as Sri Lankans have to undergo,” the Chairman said in a letter to the IGP.
“I am certain that you will agree with me that tourism is an important industry that is capable of generating much-required foreign exchange earnings for Sri Lanka. It creates direct and indirect employment opportunities for almost four million Sri Lankans. The manner in which the police officer conducted himself is disgraceful and reflects negatively on the entire Police force of Sri Lanka,” the letter further stated.
The Chairman said he has requested SSP Nawaz, who is in charge of the Tourist Police, to take the necessary steps through the Tourist Police to ensure safety and minimal inconveniences to tourists while in Sri Lanka.
“In a bid to mitigate the damage that is being caused and to counter the damage, thankful if you could make an official statement, for which maximum publicity will be arranged. It could be either a written statement or a video recording that could be disseminated on YouTube and other social media platforms,” the Tourism Chief requested the IGP.