Travel industry poised for a spirited upsurge

Daily News. by Philip Fernando

…… Places like Kalpitiya, Pasikudah, Kuchchaweli, and Arugam Bay-the surfing haven, Yala, Wilpattu, Koneswaran temple in Trincomalee or Unawatuna beach-just to name a few- are entering the tourist lexicon like Banda Aceh or Pattaya Beach….. Himalaya speman purchase online

Underpinning the tourist revival is the fact that Sri Lanka is emerging a popular destination for many seeking to fill their leisure amidst the countrya??s idyllic setting. The laid-back and the debonair are being increasingly lured to our shores as an assured place for respite or revelry.

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Golden beaches and tropical climate, main tourist attractions. File photo

More importantly, the countrya??s stunning diversity embodying cultural sites, historical treasures, the sun-drenched beaches and trendy urbane hotels promises it to be a captivating destination.

It is also a fact that professionalism inherently linked to tourism, the new tier in social networking had been well-articulated by Sri Lankans practising this trade. Its vexing demands are met quite competently by thousands who are in it for good.

Sri Lankans seemed quite adept at it now. The long drought brought on by the terror war did not dim their hopes. They hung on striving to be seasoned masters of this trade and their patience was paid off.

From reservation, itinerary, destination and packaging to check-in, tour, wine, dine and relax -the whole gamut of hospitality wrapped into this acclaimed venture gets accomplished with consummate dexterity. Kudos to all of the nimbly operators.

New dimension taking shape

It is beginning to take on a new dimension. Already advance notices of events such as Pacific Asia Travel meetings, Asia Cup Cricket, probable bid to host the Commonwealth Games, Hikkaduwa festival and many other events have become international buzz words. That was unheard of a few years ago. The reputation has grown exponentially.

Places like Kalpitiya, Pasikudah, Kuchchaweli, and Arugam Bay-the surfing haven, Yala, Wilpattu, Koneswaran temple in Trincomalee or Unawatuna beach-just to name a few- are entering the tourist lexicon like Banda Aceh or Pattaya Beach.

Most visitors seemed to believe that what was being offered in Sri Lanka is a bonanza awaiting them-often way above expectations. It is an exotic package, best in aesthetic appeal whether of stone or of art or in the realm of R and R.

The tourists are leisured and show an amazing proclivity for rusticity, scenic splendour and near artistic satisfaction in the ingenious search for a well-earned vacation. They savour the experience.

Attention to detail complemented the warmth projected by the hosts welcoming the visitors. A US couple after a visit recently said: a??they spoiled us to the core-bottle of Bordeaux was handy for the connoisseur of wine; breakfast table was always stocked with choices of cereal, milk, yoghurt or the local specialties like, kiribath or egg hoppers. Dinner recommendations were excellent for everyone travelling out and there was extra shower gel at the end of a tired day.a??

The billion dollar target

The luscious greenery is spell-binding and prospects of a time well-spent seemed hypnotic to many. The hotel industry has come of age. Charming the guests has become second nature to everyone.

It is predicted that this industry is capable of bringing in over a billion dollars annually-like the other major income earners-tea, garments and foreign remittances of those living abroad. The 450,000 arrivals in 2009 that brought in nearly $ 350 million in revenue from the industry would likely be exceeded this year.

Investment outlays

The year 2011 has been declared the a??Visit Sri Lanka Yeara?? by the President. Tourist arrivals for the first time are expected to hit one million by 2011 and the target for 2016 is 2.5 million. The number of rooms available now is at 14,500. That needs to go up by at least 3,000 within two years.

The targeted increase in room capacity to 35,000 rooms by 2016 meant the outlay of US$ 10 billion. It is well-within reach but no cakewalk. The portents are good as the valuations of traded stocks in tourist ventures have zoomed to dizzy heights. The hotel sector is trading at a very high 103 times profits in the Colombo Echange. In December 2009 hotels contributed three percent to profits. In March it was eight percent according to the latest data available.

Presently, the infrastructure can handle up to 800,000 visitors a year, comfortably meeting expected demand this year of 500,000. The country aims to add nearly 20,000 hotel rooms in the next six years to cater to the anticipated boom in tourism.

The Tourism Development Authority has already approved the construction of new hotels in Pasikudah and Batticaloa to promote eastern beaches as a tourist destination. New zones which are being developed as tourist hotel sites are, Kuchchaweli north of the eastern port and five islands in Kalpitiya, which would be similar to the Maldives.

Plans are afoot to build a domestic airport at Uchchamunai, an under-water amusement park in Kandakkuliya, a golf course in Dutch Bay, a race course and a cricket ground in Kalpitiya. Fishing Tourism, Leisure Tourism and Ayurvedic Tourism are some of the concepts the Government is planning to implement to attract the global appeal.

Bed and Breakfast outlets

As post scrip to the optimism described here, there is also a participatory element taking shape as thousands are getting into the bed and breakfast business.

The number of home-hospitality Ads appearing in the internet had quadrupled during the past two years. Many places offer room, dinning and kitchen facilities with TV, washer, dryer and all other conveniences for as low as $30 a night.

The Bread and Breakfast outlets dotting the landscape from Bambalapitiya towards Moratuwa and in many other places like Kandy and Galle are a certain indication that more are drawn to this business and it is bound to grow. Optimism is quite high.


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