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Tourism in Sri Lanka

Tourism in Sri Lanka

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Published by vinodkrishnan

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Published by: vinodkrishnan on Mar 17, 2010
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03/17/2014

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If peace prevails
Vinod Krishnan. T.Y
.The war is over. The twenty six year war, or rather the civil war, in Sri Lanka wasofficially declared over when the Tamil separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam(LTTE) leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed by Sri Lankan military on May 19,2009. In the island, no one talks of terrorism any more. Huge flex hoardings withdifferent postures of MahindaRajapaksha, the president turned warhero of Sri Lanka, exhibited along the17000 miles long paved roads of thecountry, talk of rebuilding the nation.And the rebuilding of the nation hasmuch to do with massive programmesto boost the tourism economy of thecountry. In Sri Lanka, which canboast of its picturesque beaches, lushgreen valleys, rich wildlife, tea andseven UNESCO heritage sites,boosting tourism to rebuild itseconomy is justified, in the sense thatthe country lacks any otherprogramme to support its incrediblypoliced society.Tourism has been the agenda of thegovernment since 2005, when theTamil liberation movement lost itsground in the east and in the north,the once ‘liberated’ region of thecountry. In the
mahinda chinthana
,the long term policy framework for development of the country formed in 2005 andnamed after the President Mahinda Rajapaksha, tourism formed one of the majorcomponents to address the war hit economy. In the policy framework, tourism formed themost powerful sector to boost the socio-economic development of the nation. The visionwas to turn Sri Lanka into the foremost destination of South Asia within another sixyears. According to the
mahinda chinthana by
2016 Sri Lanka is to achieve two milliontourists every year and tourism should become the third largest foreign exchange earnerafter textiles and foreign remittance. The policy framework talks of everything possiblein tourism vocabulary: nature tourism, adventure tourism, agri-tourism, culture tourism,community tourism, sports tourism, eco tourism, and wellness tourism.In 2009, just before the end of war, following the
mahinda chinthana
, the Government of Sri Lanka formulated a national strategy for Sri Lanka Tourism and a strategy plan for
 
2009-12.The strategy plan includes incentives to foreign and domestic investors andspeedy investment facilitation to attract 1.5 million tourists per annum , if peace prevailsby 2016
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. While the 2005 policy framework talks of making tourism the third largestforeign exchange earner, the strategy plan envisages it to be the largest foreign exchangeearner. Its vision for Sri Lanka Tourism says it wants to make the country one of theforemost tourism destinations of Asia, benefiting all stake holders of the tourism industryand the people of Sri Lanka. Every citizen of the country, the vision says, must play theirpart, however small, to make Sri Lanka the Asian tourism icon.To achieve its vision, the Government of Sri Lanka has received huge funds as donationsfrom international donors for developing the tourism sector of the country. The JapaneseBank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has given USD 30 Million as a donation todevelop tourism in Negombo , Nuwara Ealia , Kandy , Sigiriya and Dambulla. USD 20million has been donated by the World Bank under its country assistance strategy todevelop massive tourism projects in Bentota and Kalpitiya. The Government has also setup a Tourism Development Fund to fund all tourism initiatives by different governmentalagencies to boost tourism.The Sri Lankan government has declared 2011 as the ‘
Visit Sri Lanka Year’
. It haslaunched a USD 20 million massive advertisement campaign internationally to attractinternational tourists to the country. However, the catch phrase, “Sri Lanka: SmallMiracle,” is yet to hit tourism markets in a big way internationally, perhaps as a result of economic recession or still not withdrawn travel advisories in the West. But if one has tobelieve the official statistics, the country shows a very positive trend in terms of tourismrevenue. Sri Lanka receives approximately 500,000 visitors each year and the sectorforms nearly 3% of the USD 40 billion economy. With the projection of 20% growth intourism arrival, the tourism revenue is expected to reach 8%.Everything in relation to tourismin Sri Lanka is picture perfect inpapers. Clearly drawn masterplans, ambitious programmes,encouraging statistics, welldesigned strategies forpromotions, and inflow of fundsfrom international donors toboost tourism economy give animpression that nothing wouldremain a hurdle to make thecountry the Asian tourism icon.Everything has been designed inlaboratory condition.
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Page 4 of the Sri Lanka Tourism Strategic Plan 2009-2012 while outlining the clearly defined strategictargets says “to attract 1.5 million tourist arrivals per annum if peace prevails by 2016”!

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