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DateLine Sunday, 25 May 2008

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Tourism drive in Eastern province

The Sri Lanka Tourism Authority will develop tourism in the Eastern province.

Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Authority Renton de Alwis told a media briefing last week at Beruwela that tourism in the Eastern province will be developed following its liberation. The Eastern province which has the finest tourist resorts in the country will be developed shortly.

He said investors have already revived a resort hotel at Pasikuddah to be converted into an up market Eco-friendly resort. People in the Eastern province will be encouraged to provide accommodation to tourists as in the past to develop tourism. However, there were no plans to build big hotels in the area at present he said.

Referring to tourism promotion, he said the Sri Lanka Tourism Authority plans to popularise the Ramayana concept among Indian tourists who wish to visit sacred sites of interest connected to the Ramayana epic.

“One such site is in the Hill country at Seetha Eliya and the other is in the Southern province where King Rama is believed to have landed. We will link these tours, to enable Indian tourists to visit the country,” he said.

He said tourism, the fourth largest foreign exchange earner netted US $ 380 million last year. Although a growth was recorded in tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka in 2004, the tsunami affected the industry the following year. It picked up again in 2006, but there were less tourist arrivals thereafter due to other factors. “We vacillate at around half a million tourists at present”.

He said prior to 1983 there wasn’t a tourist season as such but during the South-West monsoonal season tourists preferred the Eastern coast.

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