Boost for tourism in East | Daily News

Boost for tourism in East

SLTDA conducts awareness programme to rebuild the Eastern Province’s tourism sector
Arugam Bay (File Photo)
Arugam Bay (File Photo)

Tourism is the most income-generating sector in Sri Lanka. Every Sri Lankan must consider it is his or her duty to make Sri Lanka attractive to tourists. After the recent Easter Sunday bomb blasts, tourist arrivals dwindled. Foreign countries gave negative signals to those who wanted to travel to Sri Lanka. Now, those countries have relaxed their advisories and tourist arrival has gradually gone up by the strategies adopted by the Sri Lanka Tourism Bureau and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).

Tourists support those who live below the poverty line to earn a living by purchasing their handicrafts, cottage products, handloom items, and the other products turn out from waste materials. In addition to that, the income of the fisherfolk is enhanced by the foreigners, taste for seafood such as crabs, prawns and lobsters.

The Tourism Development Authority conducted an awareness programme under the theme, Gathering East - Rebuild The Tourism in the Eastern Province organised by the Eastern Province Tourism Bureau at the JKAP Park Hotel, Trincomalee on June 20. Eastern Province Governor Shan Wijayalal De Silva was the chief guest.

Speaking on the occasion, Governor Shan Wijayalal De Silva said that tourism in the Eastern Province is the most revenue-generating sector in Sri Lanka. The SLTDA provides financial assistance to tourist service providers in Trincomalee, Ampara and Batticaloa who were affected by the Easter Sunday attacks. He further said that it is our duty to welcome tourists and send them back safely.

“Tourists are not coming to Sri Lanka only for leisure, but to experience our heritage, culture and civilisation. The Eastern Province Tourism Bureau cannot function alone without the assistance of the local bodies, security sector, banks and other stakeholders. The East must work to attract tourists which will in turn help to expand the tourism industry across the country,” the Governor said.

During the awareness programme, the issues related to the safety and security, marketing and communication, finance, skills and human resources, access to the province, infrastructure and tourism regulations were discussed. These issues were addressed by relevant officers. As the deadline given to settle the loans taken by hotels is March 31, 2020, a request was made to extend the deadline by another six months.

An Australian volunteer in the Tourism Bureau, Leeza made a presentation on digitalising tourism marketing.

Eastern Province Tourism Bureau Chairman Indika Jayawickrama, Eastern Province Tourism Bureau General Manager A.S.M. Fayis, Additional Government Agents from Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Ampara, Chairmen from the Local Government Bodies in the Eastern Province, Chiefs representing the Tri Forces and Police, the RDA, banks, universities, Lands Ministry, Coastal Conservation Department and the Tourism Ministry participated.

Batticaloa

The Eastern Province stretches across 320km along the east coast from Yala National Park in the South to the Kokkilai lagoon in the North. In the middle lies the coastal town of Batticaloa (population 87,000), which is 313km from Colombo, a distance that takes about seven hours to travel by car. Alternatively, Batticaloa can be reached by train via Polonnaruwa (eight-nine hours), bus (nine hours), and plane.

Batticaloa is situated on a narrow strip of land between the Indian Ocean and the estuarine lagoon named after the town. In fact, it is a Portuguese name derived from Tamil Mattakalappu famous for its speciality food, lagoon crabs and cashew nuts.

The Batticaloa lagoon with its handful of islands, mangroves, water birds and adjacent Dutch Fort is one of the area’s major attractions and is associated with mysterious ‘singing fish’. The Batticaloa Lighthouse provides a magnificent view. And those interested in the environment are served by a learning centre and an eco-park. There are three iconic east coast beaches in the Batticaloa district - Kallady, just outside the town, and Kalkudah and Pasikudah, 35km northwards. For experienced divers, there is the lure of a rare shipwreck, HMS Hermes, the very first aircraft carrier sunk by the Japanese in April 1942.

Tourists show interest in visiting the following famous historic sites in Batticaloa - Batticaloa lagoon, the Dutch Fort, Kallady Beach, Mamangam Pillaiyar Temple, Thiruchchenthoor Murugan Temple, Batticaloa Lighthouse, Batticaloa Lagoon Environment Learning and Eco-Park, Kalkudah and Pasikkudah beaches and the Unnichchai Tank.

Trincomalee

Near the northern end of the province is the historic port of Trincomalee with its expansive deep-water natural harbour, Dutch Fort and iconic Hindu Kovil. Trincomalee has a variety of attractions within easy reach.

The beaches in Trincomalee offer swimming, surfing and diving. Diving on coral reefs and shipwrecks from March to May and August to December in Trincomalee and nearby Nilaveli is a great experience. Dolphin and whale-watching can be experienced from June to September.

The distance between Colombo and Trincomalee is 264 km. There are four routes to reach the Eastern Province passing Trincomalee. These routes not only traverse the province, but provide different return journeys to maximise the travellers’ experience on the island. The journey can also be undertaken by train, bus, helicopter and plane.

The historical tourist attractions in Trincomalee are the Natural Harbour, Fort Frederick, Koneswaram Kovil, Eagles’ Golf Links, Marble Beach, Kanniya hot water springs, Nilaveli Beach, Pigeon Island, Seruwila, Lanka Patuna, Thiriyal and Velgam Vehara.

Ampara

Ampara expands across 17km and is 324 km from Colombo, a distance which takes five hours to travel by car via Kandy. Alternatively, Ampara can be reached by bus (eight hours) and plane.

Ampara is the centre of the Ampara district, one of the 25 administrative regions of Sri Lanka. The history of this region began in the second century BC when it became a prosperous agricultural centre.

Anuradhapura developed under the Gal Oya scheme transforming Ampara into a town. Today, the Ampara district hosts a number of tourist destinations.

The premier beach of the district attraction is Arugam Bay, renowned as one of the world’s finest surfing spots. There are national parks such as Gal Oya and Kumana inhabited by Sri Lanka’s typical wildlife such as elephants and leopards with rich flora and fauna, including endemic and migratory species.

The following are famous historic sites in Ampara - Gal Oya National Park, Kumana National Park, Buddangala Monastery, Kudumbigala Monastery, Deegavapi Raja Maha Viharaya, Magul Maha Viharaya, Sam Angela Cave, Peace Pagoda Ampara, Irakkamam - Senanayake Samudraya and Arugam Bay.


 

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