Infrastructure upgrades to draw tourism investors in Sri Lanka’s Mannar
ECONOMYNEXT- The Sri Lankan government will develop Mannar as a tourism destination, building on the efforts of the Canadian government by modernising infrastructure, a minister said.
Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga said that he will be sending officials from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority to Mannar to evaluate how the government should conserve attractions and develop the district for tourism.
“We want to bring investors to Mannar to open hotels, restaurants and recreation centres,” he said.
The accommodation capacity of Mannar District is currently below 500, official data showed. Just one project with 52 rooms had got final approval for construction from the government over the past 8 years.
Amaratunga said that while working to increase investor interest in Mannar tourism, the government will also support the development of homestay units.
The government will work on improving the basic infrastructure Mannar needs in the form of better roads, electricity and water accessibility.
Amaratunga also cited the lack of air connectivity to Mannar as a reason for the district’s poor performance in tourism.
He said the Hingurakgoda Airport will be opened up for domestic air traffic.
Mannar Improving Competitiveness in Tourism programme (MIC Tourism), a Canadian initiative launched last week to attract more visitors to Mannar, received praise from Amaratunga.
“On behalf of the government, let me thank the Canadian government and the World University Services Canada for all they have done,” Amaratunga said.
“They have done a wonderful job. What we should have done, they have done it.”
MIC Tourism has created promotional content for Mannar.
These highlight the Adam’s Bridge, the Wilpattu National Park, the Madu Church, Hindu Kovils, colonial architecture, marine resources, Mannar culture and the baobab tree.
Amaratunga said that despite visiting Mannar on multiple occasions, he hadn’t even known about some of the attractions promoted under the programme.
MIC Tourism has also launched a hotel school in Mannar, in partnership with IDM Nation Campus, World University Services Canada Country Director Esther McIntosh said.
Over 100 students have graduated from the hotel school with diplomas and certificates, MIC Tourism officials said.
They said that the programme had also taken businessmen, government officials and tourism and hospitality students in Mannar on an exposure visit to the Philippines, considering the similarity of Mannar to the tourism hotspots in the South East Asian nation. (COLOMBO, 02 August, 2018)