Actor Ben Cross not happy with Pinnawela Orphange

Mr. Cross gets cross at Pinnawala

Monday, 13 June 2011 00:00 Daily Mirror

British actor Ben Cross complains of harassment while visiting Pinnawela

By Susitha R. Fernando

While the government is trying to boost the country’s tourism attracting more and more tourists to the country with the aim of making Sri Lanka the ‘Miracle of Asia’, tourists complain of what they are subjected to at some of the popular tourist sites.

The latest complaint was from internationally renowned British actor Ben Cross who was visiting Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage recently.

Early 1980s Hollywood movie ‘Chariot of Fire’ fame actor Cross complained that the poor administrative system where every mahout was asking for tips was disturbing and discouraging the tourists.

“You are constantly being asked for money. When I went there I paid Rs. 2000 at the entrance which I expected to be a payment for everything. But as soon as I entered the orphanage a woman sitting there said that I could not take my movie camera in unless Rs. 500 was paid. I was angry and took the money and threw it at her,” said the actor who was making a tour around the country after playing in a film produced by Sri Lankan filmmaker Chandran Rutnam.

Mr. Cross went on to say that every mahout was asking for tips and sometimes complaining that the tips given were not enough.

“I was asked to pay Rs. 300 to feed one banana to an elephant,” he added.

He suggested that it would have been far better if an extra cost was added to the ticket and a system where all the workers have a share of it was introduced.

“No tourist will refuse to pay extra Rs. 500 to be distributed among the workers. This would maintain the dignity while raising them out of poverty track,” he said.

When this is taken care of, any country operating at this level would be able to raise the standard and give people’s dignity, he added.