In response to two articles published by Colombo Telegraph on alleged acts of corruption involving Felix Rodrigo, a ‘Senior Advisor’ to Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Affairs John Amaratunga, Green Leaves Leisure – the company at the centre of the Chinese weddings fiasco – has sent the following statement.
This concept captured the imagination of the chinese wedding market. The chinese television company CCTV gave wide coverage to this event. Resulting in the generation of two more similar events in the coming year.
This chinese wedding saw 400 tourists visiting sri lanka & generated revenue to hotels, restaurants & retail establishments. And put Sri Lanka on the map as the destination for off-site weddings.
It should be specifically mentioned that, Green Leaves Leisure (GLL) did not canvass the support of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB). But facilitated the inclusion of the Ministry of Tourism & the Ministry of Megapolis out of professional curtesy to the industry and with a view of promoting Sri Lanka tourism.
The company has at no time acted in a manner to warrant an investigation nor have we been informed of such an inquiry.
Therefore it is erroneous to intimate that these Wedding events are diverted to Green Leaves Leisure by SLTPB or the Ministry of Tourism. As this was a concept exclusively developed by GLL.
In fact Green Leaves Leisure has committed to bring in 10,000 tourists into the country monthly. These tourists will be fed in to existing Hotels, Restaurants, Tour guides, Transport, Retail Establishments and Airlines.
Green Leaves Leisure does not operate any of these ancillary & complementary clusters.
It is interesting to note that unlike the Royal Wedding Event which brought in 400 direct tourists without any sponsorships from Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau’ several other events organised by private corporations have been underwritten or sponsored without any quantifiable benefit to the country in terms of tourism promotion.
Most recently, The Power Boats Event down south, sponsored by SLTPB. The Choir Games (run by a private profit making company) underwritten by SLTPB, The Sound of Music Production an event by a development consortium as part of it’s local promotions for their mega development project.
And finally the Black Tie Dinner hosted at the Savoy Hotel for the British Travel Writers Association in London underwritten by SLTPB for 20 million rupees which did not generate a single article on Destination Sri Lanka.
The ethos of Green Leaves Leisure is to be complementary & work together with all stake holders to promote Sri Lanka as a destination of choice in the international travel market.
Currently we are in the process of finalising preferred partner hotels to launch Sri Lanka at the Destination Business Conference again as an independent Travel & tourism company without any backing or support of SLTPB or the Ministry of Tourism.
We deny categorically that there has been any money siphoned out from SLTPB or the ministry to Mr. Felix Rodrigo, Mr. Harindra Rodrigo or to Green Leaves Leisure or that an inquiry has been initiated from the prime minister’s office. ”
Colombo Telegraph response
While standing by its story, Colombo Telegraph wishes to pose several questions to Green Leaves Leisure. We expect Green Leaves Leisure on any party representing the company would respond to the following questions raised by the Investigations Desk of Colombo Telegraph.
1) What is the connection between Harindra Rodrigo, the owner of Green Leaves Leisure and Felix Rodrigo, a “Senior Advisor” to the Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Affairs?
2) If Green Leaves Leisure (GLL) “did not canvass the support of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), but facilitated the inclusion of the Ministry of Tourism & the Ministry of Megapolis out of professional courtesy to the industry and with a view of promoting Sri Lanka tourism,” why did Mr. Udaya Nanayakkara, former Chairman of the SLTPB receive a directive to pay Rs. 6 million to your company, following the first Chinese wedding event in Colombo ?
3) Who was instrumental in sending this directive?
4) On what grounds was Udaya Nanayakkara directed to make this payment ?
5) Why was Udaya Nanayakkara sacked upon his refusal to pay an amount of. Rs. 6 million to Green Leaves Leisure ?
6) Earlier this month, the Tourism Development Ministry and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotional Bureau hosted a press conference to announce an agreement signed between Green Leaves Leisure and Chinese based Yingke Travels, a subsidiary of Vanta Field Industrial Shanghai Co. Ltd. On what grounds did the Tourism Development Ministry organize this press conference and invite journalists for the event ?
7) Did the relationship between Felix Rodrigo and Harindra Rodrigo play any part in the Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Ministry walking an extra mile to promote business ventures entered into by Green Leaves Leisure ?
8) How does Green Leaves Leisure categorically claim that no money has been “siphoned out” from SLTPB or from the Ministry to Felix Rodrigo? How can a private company vouch for a official working for a government ministry?
9) Shouldn’t Mr. Felix Rodrigo resign from his position given that Mr. Harindra Rodrigo and his company is working closely with the Tourism Development Ministry and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotional Bureau on matters of business interest ?
10) Doesn’t Felix Rodrigo’s continuation in office in the capacity of ‘Senior Advisor to the Minister’ indicate blatant conflict of interest?