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Leading News from Sri Lanka::

* Concern over some politicians disrupting tourism promotion in Sri Lanka
Fri, Mar 26, 2010, 09:30 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 26, Colombo: Sri Lanka government sources say that the tourism industry and the business community have expressed their concerns to the political leadership about the ultra nationalist anti-system conduct of some ruling party politicians that creates a disadvantageous image about Sri Lanka internationally.

The concern is based on the disruption of a show organized to promote tourism industry in Sri Lanka. These ultra nationalist ruling party politicians have reportedly backed the lobbying of some Buddhist monks against the R&B singer Akon's performance scheduled next month in Colombo.

On Monday, a group attacked the MBC/MTV media office and police arrested 16 persons on suspicion. One radio channel of MTV has reportedly sponsored the show that was also sponsored by the state-owned SriLankan airline. Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau that is under the Ministry of Tourism was also engaged in organizing the event.

Sources say that some ruling party politicians have backed the unruly mob that attacked the MTV media office on Monday by helping them to obtain state-owned buses to travel to and from the scene of chaos.

"We were expecting about 5,000 to 6,000 tourists from India, Maldives, and Malaysia to watch the show. The mileage we would have got would have been priceless," an AFP report quoted Minister of Tourism Achala Jagoda.

According to the AFP report, the Minister also has said that Colombo could not issue a visa to the Grammy Award-nominated star as his music video "was insensitive to Sri Lanka's (Buddhist) cultural heritage."

"But this does not mean that we have a Taliban-style Buddhist following in Sri Lanka. Some parts of Akon's video were not culturally suitable for us," Jagoda has said in an apparent attempt to clear the bad image Sri Lanka achieved from this incident.

In 2004, protesters bombed a musical show led by Indian performer Shah Rukh Khan in Colombo for holding the event on the death anniversary of a famous Buddhist monk, late Venerable Gangodawila Soma Thero. The blast killed two people and injured another 19 people.

Sources say the mood in the tourism industry is grim with the development. Some operators say the government needs to engage constructively in the affairs of this kind instead of giving in to the agendas of scrupulous elements that seek petty political mileage at the cost of the nation's economy and future, although there is a dire need to safeguard the cultural values.

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