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Sunday, 15 August 2010

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East ready for tourist influx

Thirukoneswaram Kovil

The foundation has been laid for tourism development in the East which is now gearing for the influx of tourists to the region, said Project Director, North East Coastal Community Development Project (NECCDEP), S. M. Croos.

He said extensive road development carried out in the East would be an impetus to the growth of tourism in the East coast which has some of the most attractive beaches, sand dunes, lagoons and nature reserves in the world.

“While many of the bridges in the East have been reconstructed work on a few are nearing completion.

The three decade war destroyed many of the bridges and brought road transportation to a complete halt”, Croos said.

Strategic plan

The Strategic Tourism Development Plan for the Eastern province is a project of the NECCDEP funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Sathurukondan Wetlands

The objective of the plan is to promote responsible tourism while improving the livelihood and recreational opportunities for the people in the East.

“Hotels that could accommodate a large number of visitors should to be built to cater to the influx of tourists to the East.

The guesthouses and ‘home stays’ should be converted in to large resorts and boutique hotels”, Croos said.

“People in the East are relieved and live a happy life. Lifting of travel restrictions have made transportation easy and normal activities to resume”, he said.

Immediate Past President, Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka, Srilal Miththapala said the East coast has immense potential for tourism in Sri Lanka but there has to be more hotels and resorts to cater to the influx of visitors.

The development of the Kanniya hot wells, beautification of Batticaloa and the Kallady beach, improving beach access roads and handicraft training for women in Arugambay, a visitor centre in Pottuvil and hotel staff training are some of the proposals of the NECCDEP tourism development plan for the East.

Beautification

The Kallady beach beautification program includes parking space, development of access roads, a children’s park, cabanas, seating arrangements and tree planting.

Kanniya Hot Wells

Pottuvil Lagoon

The Batticaloa beautification program includes developing roads, bridges and protecting nature reserves.

Batticaloa is the second largest city in the Eastern province with a population of around 90,000 people.

The district is made up of Tamils 91.8 percent, Muslims 5.15 percent, Burghers 2.8 percent Sinhalese 0.25 percent.The sandy beaches of Pasikuda and Arugambay popular for wind surfing, whale watching and scuba diving, the Kumana and Lahugala national parks and the cultural and religious sites make the East a unique destination for tourists who love to revel in eco-tourism.

Tourism has been recognised as a major contributor to the economy and it is expected to be the number one foreign exchange earner to the country.

Tourist arrivals recorded a 48 percent growth during the first six months of this year compared to the same period in 2009.

A campaign has been launched to lure visitors from non traditional markets.

Hotels are being refurbished and more rooms are being built to meet the 2.5 million tourist arrival target by 2016.


Tourist attractions in the East

Trincomalee district

The Nilaveli beach, the Pigeon Island and Somawathi National Parks, Hot Wells in Kanniya, Thiriyai Velgam Vihara, Thirukoneswaram, Fort Fredrick and Ales Gardens

Batticaloa district

Kallady beach, Pasikuda and Kalkuda, the Batticaloa lagoon, the Dutch Fort area and Lady Manning Drive

Ampara district

Arugambay beach, the Pottuvil lagoon, Panama dunes, crocodile point, Sastravela lagoon, the Lahugala and Kumana National parks, Bovattegala and Kudimbigala and Magulmahavihara.

 

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