Tourism - major contributor to national economy
Paradise of the East is a terminology used to refer to Sri Lanka by many nations in the past. In conformity to this citation Sri Lanka is a land blessed with beauty and the best of everything. The country’s blend of fauna and flora, birds and beasts, rivers and waterfalls, culture and heritage, beauty and the beaches would enchant any tourist who seeks adventure, pleasure, peace, delicious food and challenge in once destination.
Since vanquishing terrorism, the country has become a major tourist destination and the country is being rewarded with many plaudits and admiration. The prestigious New York Times has ranked Sri Lanka as the best country among 32 tourist destinations. The illustrious National Geographic TV Channel categorized Sri Lanka as the second best country for the tourists. A survey carried out recently by the reputed international magazine ranked Sri Lanka as the 5th best country in Asia. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh fell far behind in this ranking. The government rightly recognizing the economic potential that exists in the tourist industry has launched several programmes to afford services to the rapidly growing number of tourists who visit the country. Tourist arrival has registered a steep increase during the last few months and the government set a target of getting 2.6 million tourists by 2016. In line with this the present room capacity of a little over 14,000 will be increased to 40,000 by 2016.
Many tourist infrastructure facilities are being established to make this sector a major contributor to the national economy.
Tourism zones targeting high-end tourists are being established in Kalpitiya, Passikudah and Kutchchaveli.
Kalpitiya tourist zone
Kalpitiya is being developed as a major tourist zone in the country, 14 island in the Kalpitiya area, in the Puttalam district will be developed to cater to high-end tourists as the largest of the country’s tourist zones. The total acreage of these 14 island amounts to nearly 5,000 acres.
The Kalpitiya tourist zone will be an unfeigned heaven for any tourist as the area is rich with dolphins and whales, lobsters and sea turtles, exotic beaches etc,. It also has a Bar Reef Marine Sanctuary of over 300 sq.km of sea having most valuable rich bio-diversity.
In the largest of the 14 islands, the Dutch Bay, covering over 715 hectares, The Dutch Bay Resorts is constructing an 80-villa luxury resort with an investment of US $ 175 million. The project will include construction of 75 luxury boutique chalets, a Spa Club, Floating Restaurants and a Helipad where tourists could land after touching down at the Katunayake Airport.
The types of tourism that will become available in the zone will include fishing tourism, deep sea diving, nature based tourism, beach tourism, sport and adventure tourism, agro tourism, culture tourism, village tourism and event tourism.
Passikudah tourist zone
Passikudah is another tourist zone being developed in the Trincomalee District. It has a clean 4 km long beach, suitable for surfing and sea sport activities.
Thirteen tourist hotels are being built in the zone, at a cost of Rs 12 billion which will have around 1,000 room capacity. It has a long clean beach and it is a great haven for sun bathing.
Kutchaveli tourist zone
This is another tourist zone being built in the Batticaloa district. The beach provides a perfect setting for sun bathing, wind surfing and skiing. The beach also houses a varied number of tropical fishes and exotic coral reefs. Establishment of several hotels by the private sector are underway.
Arugam Bay beach
Arugam beach is one of the finest beaches available in the Asian region and it offers many opportunities for tourists such as sun bathing, fishing, surfing and other water sports. The government has taken measures to encourage tourist development in the area and several tourist hotels and other facilities are being constructed in the area at present.
Sri Lanka has many handicraft products and cultivation exclusive for certain regions and villages. Programmes are being implemented to develop these villages as exclusive tourist villages on the basis of manufacture of one product or cultivation of one variety in each village, and in establishing tourist facilities such as restaurants, marketing centres and improving infrastructure in these exclusive villages. The villagers are also being given training on the interaction with the tourists. This programme would divert tourist income directly to the villages strengthening the villagers economically.
Sri Lanka-India ferry services
Resumption of ferry services between the two countries disrupted by the terrorist atrocity will become a cheap and convenient mode of travel to Sri Lankan and Indian tourists. Two ferry services between Colombo and Tuticorin and between Talaimannar and Rameswaram will come into operation soon.
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Pinnawela elephant orphanage is the only place in the whole world where anyone can see a large number of elephants at one place. The orphanage is being further expanded to accommodate more elephants and provide additional facilities to the ever-increasing large number of tourists visiting the orphanage daily.
Pinnawela zoological garden
The first stage of the Pinnawela zoological gardens is planned to be opened this year. Construction of the open-air zoo, the first in Sri Lanka is being carried out near the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela. Four acres of the zoological gardens will be allocated for local animals. There will be an internal road network, and other basic facilities. The government’s intention is to develop the area as a tourist zone with the opening of the open-air zoo.
Udawalawe elephant orphanage
Another elephant orphanage has been established in Uda Walawe and several elephants who were destroying crops in the villages and who were a threat to the life of villages have been brought and settled in this elephant orphanage.
Induruwa tourist village
A modern tourist village for facilitating the tourists visiting the South is being established in Induruwa to absorb the overflow of tourist traffic in Hikkaduwa and Bentota tourist resorts. The area already has many tourist resorts along the beach established by the private sector.
Yacht anchoring facilities at Galle Port
The Galle port has been found as an ideal anchoring point for yachts in South Asia. It was destroyed by the tsunami disaster in 2004. The port is now being developed to attract yachts with other facilities such as construction of duty free shops and recreational facilities, including facilities for repair of yachts.
The country has several domestic airports in all parts of the country. These airports are being developed to facilitate operation of domestic air services by landing Avro and other small aircraft and jets which would facilitate the tourists to avoid road transport. The air fore has already started internal flight service to some of these airports. In addition to several domestic airline services, including Jet airlines and some Indian domestic airlines have expressed interest in commencing air services to these domestic airports.
Tank based air services
Sri Lanka has several large tanks such as Iranamadu, the Giant Tank, Walawe etc, in which sea planes could land in and take wing from these tanks. As another move to promote tourism, facilities are being established at selected tank sites to assist in the operation of seaplane services.
Comfort centre are established to facilitate domestic travel. These centres are established at Bentota, Passikudah, Buduruwagala, Avukana and Hastikuchchiya.
The government has entered into bilateral agreements for air services with several countries to increase the availability of air seat capacity. Several Airlines have commenced operating flights to Colombo. Gulf Air extended its wing to Colombo after a break of several years. Many budget Airlines have commenced operations to Colombo.
Convention centres in Hambantota and Jaffna
Convention centres are being established in Hambantota and Jaffna with modern communication facilities for holding conventions and international conferences. These Convention Centres will have seating capacities for several delegates to participate in International Conventions and Conferences.
Overseas tourist promotion centres
The Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority has established tourism promotion officers in London and Dubai. These offices have become epicentres in Sri Lankan tourist promotion and have been successful in luring many tourists to visit Sri Lanka in the recent times. In the meantime, Sri Lankan Embassies in the foreign countries are also engaged in tourist promotional activities.
For instance the Embassy in Washington has sent several hundred businessmen and tourists to visit the country. Similar service is being carried out by Embassies in Italy, France and in many other countries.
With the steep and ongoing growth in tourist arrivals the national carrier SriLankan Airlines has spread its wing to many destinations recently this includes flights to Shanghai, China etc.
It has also made arrangements to improve connections to major Indian cities by adding several flights to Mumbai, Chennai and Banglore. Starting with December 1, the national carrier will add three more flights a week to Mumbai, and one more to both Chennai and Bangalore.
Sri Lankan has also finalized arrangements to acquire seven more aircraft including five Airbus A320s that would serve Indian destinations. Courtesy:
Media Centre for National Development