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rising South

Hambantota on the road to becoming a tourist hotspot

The Hambantota district which was considered as an underdeveloped district in the past is now fully equipped with all amenities and facilities. The Hambantota International Port and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport are poised to connect Sri Lanka to the rest of the world.

Hambantota Port

The port and the airport play a major role in uplifting the tourism industry. There are plans to provide a wide arena of services in connection with the Hambantota Port to cater to leisure travel and facilitate cruise travellers and bunkering. The vision for the Hambantota International Port as outlined in its website is ‘To become a world-class customer-centric sea port and platform for business excellence’.

Mattala Airport

As the second international airport in the country, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport has the potential to contribute in many ways to the economic and social progress of the South and the national economy through the expansion of connections for Sri Lanka with the world. This international airport will make a major contribution to the country’s wellbeing focusing on the neglected areas in the deep South lending a long-awaited boost to international trade, tourism, export, agriculture and creating new opportunities in tourism.

Creating a landmark in the investment history in Sri Lanka, the government invested in an oil tank farm, an oil refinery and a cement manufacturing plant in Hambantota which are under construction. Among the many tourist attractions in the Hambantota district are Sri Lanka’s first safari park in Ridiyagama, Sri Lanka’s first-ever Agro Technology Park at Bataatha in Hungama, Sri Lanka’s first-ever dry zone botanical garden in Mirijjawila, Yala National Park, Bundala National Park and the blowhole (Hummanaya). These destinations have become the key attractions among local and foreign visitors.

Safari Park

The safari park was opened in March 2012. The 500-acre facility accommodates a variety of animals from different countries. This safari park is different from zoological gardens due to the freedom given to visitors to watch wild beasts in safari jeeps. There are several designated zones in the safari park for different animals, including elephants, African lions, Bengal tiger, leopard, sloth bear, Asian herbivore, African herbivore, Australian cheetah, reptiles, butterflies and the animal breeding unit. Elephants roam in a 108-acre plot while African lions have been allocated 35 acres.

There are circuit bungalows and a leisure area for children. Visitors are not allowed to drive their vehicles into the safari park, instead they have been provided with a shuttle bus service. The safari park provides facilities such as a guide service, a spacious car park, educational programmes and a gift and souvenir shop and food court.

Agro Technology Park

The Agro Technology Park in Hungama trains paddy farmers in modern technological farming methods which cover machine paddy plant transplanting, the parachute method of paddy cultivation, hand transplanting and also the traditional method of transplanting. This Agro Technology Park was set up by the Information and Communication Center of the Agriculture Department as a tribute to the farming community.

The OIC of the park, K. R. W. Keerthi said that the motive behind the setting up of this agro park was to provide knowledge and new technology to the farming community and also to make the visiting tourists aware of the traditional methods of farming.

He said that an orchard has been set up for under-utilised fruit such as veralu, uguressa, hibatu, madan, galsiyambala, anoda and nelli. In addition, papaya, mango, pineapple and rambutan are also grown.

The OIC of the park said that a modern traditional chena has been created, where maize, cowpea and kurakkan are cultivated throughout the year. In the garden, there is a variety of wet and dry zone flowers. At the commercial vegetable cultivation unit, dry and wet zone vegetables are cultivated successfully despite the dry weather conditions in the Hambantota district, by using a sprinkler water system. A traditional home garden is also being maintained.

This Agro Technology Park has proved to be a boon to the farming community not only in the Hambantota district but also to those in neighbouring districts.

botanical garden

The first-ever dry zone botanical garden in Sri Lanka in Mirijjawila, Hambantota has gained wide popularity among environmentalists, botanists, scholars, students, teachers and tourists from many countries across the world.

The construction work of this 300-acre dry zone botanical garden commenced in July 2006 with an allocation of Rs. 500 million. The first stage of the construction work was completed on November 14, 2013 and was opened to the public.

In the botanical garden, plants, trees and herbs that are grown in the dry zone are found in sections, such as the butterfly garden, plant nursery, student park, plant conservation unit, flower garden and ornamental plants.

The OIC of the dry zone botanical garden, Sumith Ekanayaka said the facility is managed by Director-General of the Peradeniya RoyalBotanical Gardens, K. N. Yapa under the guidance of the Sustainable Development and Wildlife Ministry. He said that there are three botanical gardens in Sri Lanka which were the creations of the British. The dry zone botanical garden in Hambantota is the only one set up by Sri Lankans using local technology and expertise.

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