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Sri Lanka to conserve coasts, boost tourism from Negambo to Mirissa

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka on Wednesday initiated a coastal conservation and tourism development master plan in the coastal stretch from Negombo to Mirissa, top officials said.

Having faced constant coastal erosion and pollution, Sri Lanka’s coasts are now in danger of losing its beauty due to litter, officials said.

“This 182 kilometers of coast poses a huge impact to the tourism industry and also fishing industry, which is why we decided it to be the regulated area for this plan,” Mahaweli Development & Environment Ministry Secretary Anura Dissanayake said.

Eight identified development zones within the area are taken to undergo development to make them more recreational and beach-friendly to attract tourists while improving conservation, he said.

The coastal region from Negombo to Mirissa is where over 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s hotels are located due to demand for sun, sea and sand by leisure tourists.

Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said removing and relocation of illegal establishments (settlements and shanties) will be strictly enforced in order to protect the coastal area.

“Toxicity in the sea water has risen significantly due to sewage and waste being dumped on to streams by surrounding inhabitants,” he said.

“This should be discouraged and proper sewage systems should be constructed for them.”

Officials expect the project to be finished within the coming decade.

“Allocations off budget for this project will be done after the election,” Minister Amaratunga told Economynext.com.

“Sri Lankans talk the talk but when it comes to working we do not provide our best sometimes,” Science and Technology Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe said.

“When it comes to state authorities, there is a bureaucratic attitude where plans are being set but not implemented.”

The report had identified tourist sites in need of refurbishment and natural habitats which needs immediate conservation.

Water intrusion on public roads and overtopping of sand along with garbage pileups have been seen in places like Modarawella-Kalamulla, Induruwa-Habakgala and the southern part of the Mirissa Bay.

“Our target is to reach five million tourist arrivals per year, but we lack the proper infrastructure to reach it,” Senasinghe said.

He also said that a master plan of the same caliber should be completed in Trincomalee and Arugam Bay coastal areas, preferably within six months.

(Colombo/Oct25/2019)

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