Sri Lanka develops tourism industry to economically strengthen conflict-affected East

Jan 28, Colombo: Over two years after eradicating terrorism form the country, Sri Lanka is taking measures to develop tourism in the former conflict-affected areas to economically strengthen the region and provide employment to the inhabitants.

Since the end of the war in May 2009, Sri Lanka is becoming popular as a hot tourist destination and has seen tourist arrivals rising every month setting an all-time high of 855,975 arrivals in 2011.

Under an ambitious plan the government has focused on developing the Pasikuda Tourist Zone in the eastern sea board as an attractive destination for tourists.

Until 1983 Pasikuda was a tourist haven and there were at that time. Due to the war the tourist industry in the area had a natural death and with the end of the war more and more tourist attention has been focused on this zone and it has become a very vibrant tourist area.

Under the observation of the Tourist Development Authority, the government has allocated Rs. 650 million for the development of the 150-acre Pasikuda Tourist Zone, which has become a very attractive location, especially, for the European tourists, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said.

The Economic Development Ministry has already provided Rs. 275 million from this amount towards the project, the Minister has revealed.

According to the Minister, private sector businesses are investing Rs, 6.53 billion to construct 14 new hotels with a total of 930 rooms in the Pasikuda Tourist Zone.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has already finalized the conceptual design plan of the Zone with the association of Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) and initial action have taken to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the whole resort.

The construction of hotels in the area and the anticipated heavy influx of tourists to the Zone once the construction is complete, are expected to provide direct and indirect employment to thousands of youth in the Eastern province.

“With the upsurge in tourist arrivals to the Zone the people around the area will get economically strengthened,” the Minister predicted.

The famous Pasikuda beach in Batticaloa district along the east coast has been a popular tourist resort among both foreign and local tourists until the onset of the war in 1983.

At the time there were 3 hotels with 171 rooms and infrastructure was set in place to expand to 500 rooms at different stages. After the riots in 1983 the development of the resort came to a grinding halt as the area engulfed in the conflict and subsequently, came under the terrorist control.

The government also plans to improve Nilaweli, and Arugam Bay, the most famous and beautiful beaches along the Eastern coast.

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