Mar 27, Colombo: The government has called for bids to lease out 10 more islands in Kalpitiya of the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka under the Kalpitiya Integrated Resort Development Project (KITRP) and has already leased out two.
The Tourism Ministry has declared Kalpitiya in the country’s northwest, which has 14 islands, as a tourist resort under the KITRP.
Deputy Economic Development Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena has said the two islands have been leased out to foreign investors for a period of 30 years commencing August 2010 for Rs. 18 million for the first five years.
Kalpitiya, an 8-mile stretch of land planked between the sea on one side and the lagoon on the other side, and the nearby islets in the Puttalam District will be developed under the KITRP as a major tourist destination similar to Bali in Indonesia, according to tourism officials.
Under the first phase of the KITRP, six islands will be developed – Ippantivu Island, Vellai Island I, Vellai Island II, Vellai Island III, Eramativu Island, and Kakativu Island -by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). The islands that have been leased out by the government are Ippantivu and Vellai.
The Vellai Islands have been leased out for a sum of Rs. 3.7 million (Rs. 3,709,999.68) for the first five years to Sun Resort Investment Lanka Private Limited, which is a joint venture between Sri Lanka, Maldives and Switzerland. The Ippantivu Island has been leased out for Rs. 14 million (14,914,397.40) to Qube Lanka Leisure Properties Private Limited, which is an Indian investment.
Only five of the Kalpitiya islands are inhabited while the rest are frequented only by the seasonal fishing community.
According to Abeywardena, the islands were leased out under the tourism development plan to increase the number of hotel rooms in the country to 50,000 from its existing 14,000 by 2016.
After the successful conclusion of the three-decade long ethnic war, Sri Lanka is anticipating a heavy influx of tourists in the near future and according to the tourism officials, the country needs more hotel accommodations.
The Kalpitiya tourism development programme is expected to see the construction of 17 hotels with a total capacity of 5,000 rooms and 10,000 beds.