The 67-year-old minister was the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(SLFP), Vice President of the People's Alliance and Minister of Tourism and Aviation.
A senior and very popular politician who never lost the common touch, Dharmasiri Senanayake was an old boy of Udugampola Maha Vidyalaya and Ananda College Colombo and a graduate of the Peradeniya University.
Mr. Senanayake entered politics at the very young age following in the footsteps of his brother Ratna Deshapriya Senanayake who was his mentor. At the tender age of 15, he campaigned for his brother who contested the Gampaha electorate as Communist Party candidate.
He joined the Peradeniya University in 1959 and was an active member of the Socialist Students Society where he was greatly influenced by and followed the policies of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. He began his long association with journalists and journalism as a freelance for Lankadeepa to earn pocket money', as he put it. After having graduated, he became a lecturer at economics at the Vidyodaya University.
After securing a degree in economics, he entered the Colombo Law College and passed out as an Attorney-at-Law.
In 1964, he took oaths as a lawyer and took up practice at the Kegalle Courts and was also asked to serve as the SLFP Organiser for the Dedigama electorate.
In 1970 he created history as a political novice by contesting Dudley Senanayake who was three times Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. He later became Chairman of the Ceylon Tourist Board and was particularly known for his dynamism in successfully
promoting tourism in this country.
In 1989 having being returned to Parliament as a Member from his hometown Dedigama, he served in several Committees. He worked as a special Parliamentary Committee member of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
In 1994, with the PA being elected to office, Dharmasiri Senanayake was appointed Minister of Media, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
Under his leadership the tourist industry reached unparalleled levels of development. An all time high of 436,440 tourist arrivals with an income of Rs. 79 billion were recorded in 1999.
One of the foremost authorities on tourism, Mr. Senanayake was appointed as Chairman of the World Tourism Organisation and re-elected this year.
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