I have had a few ding dong battles with some pontificating Neanderthals in Colombo, about the benefit of CHOGM for Sri Lanka. Technically a gathering of world leaders with the attendant media is a superb opportunity to showcase Sri Lanka to the world, and we simply fluffed it. In fact on reflection we should not have had it in the first place, as the arrogance and stupidity of the powers was sure to result in a very poor showing.
Just read the article in the link here, http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/38864-city-hotel-occupancy-during-chomg-far-below-expectations-hoteliers-.html
to find out how many rooms were occupied. We turned away tourists, business leaders, due to CHOGM. If the businessman wanted a business visa, he was denied one, unless he came for CHOGM and the related business conference. How bizarre is that when we had enough and more empty rooms!!
So when 2000, 5 star hotel rooms in Colombo remained empty, and just before the start much more than that, it is not something to be gleeful about and gloat, but something to be extremely frustrated about and unhappy. If that does not give a message of the reality what will. We are just too drunk with the spin laid out by the local press, and especially by a Government that cannot think. We appear to be incapable of the art of compromise, that which is a MUST for diplomacy, if we are to deal with Foreign Countries. Hence the price paid.
So we must truly have a post CHOGM discussion on where we went wrong. Were our hotel rates too high? Is that a lesson about the greed of our hoteliers? I don’t have an answer to that but that must be part of the agenda. Some joker in Government pointed out that the hotel rates in Perth, Australia at the last CHOGM were much higher! Yes it may have been, but it was not a huge deal and did not pretend to attract 4000 people or more and so only those who had to attend, did. Remember that even at state expense some countries made the decision that it was not worth attending in such large numbers that we had hoped. In Perth they did not bump up the rates for CHOGM either!
Is it due to our belief that like our President who hijacks a plane from the National Airline, and fills it with cronies, that everyone else will also do it? Let it be a lesson in humility and modesty, that we stop wasting our people’s money and begin a period of sensible spending. It is the people of this Country who either suffer the cost of extravagence or reap the benefit of frugality, not the user of the junket.