The Sri Lankan Government will develop tourism sites in war affected Northern and Eastern Provinces with the grants provided by the World Bank recently, a senior Government official said on Tuesday.
Malraj B. Kiriella, Director General of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) told reporters that the World Bank has provided US$ 125.4 million for Small and Medium Enterprise development, local service improvements and tourism development in those two provinces.
Sri Lanka’s decades long civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam and Government troops blocked tourists to enter the Northern Province and some parts of the Eastern Province while the island’s northern coastal belt was totally unreachable.
Kiriella said the country’s tourism industry depended on southern coast and some wildlife parks during the last three decades due to the war, but now both foreign and local tourists could enjoy the untouched beauty in the northern sea as war had ended. “Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches are located in Trincomalee in the Eastern Province and Mullaitivu in the Northern Province,” he said, adding that several wildlife parks are now open for visitors without any restriction.
The SLTDA expect to upgrade facilities such as circuit bungalows and camping sites in those wildlife parks with the assistance of Wildlife Department, said Kiriella. He said they had already identified some areas including Elephant Pass, Kilaly in the Northern Province to be developed as tourism zones. Kiriella said tourist arrivals recorded a 40 per cent increase for the first nine months and 445,000 tourists had visited the island by the end of September. “We will expect 600,000 by the end of this year,” he said, adding that north and east tourism development would help the government to get 2.5 million tourists by 2016.