Tourism in Sri Lanka

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Kitulgala, where the Academy Award-winning "The Bridge on the River Kwai" was filmed

In the twelfth century, the explorer Marco Polo wrote that Sri Lanka was the finest island in the whole world. For centuries it had been a tourism destination, particularly for European travelers. Recently, the Sri Lankan Civil War that spanned over 25 years and ended in 2009 has had a negative impact on tourism and the growth of the industry stagnated, however following this era a resurgence in Sri Lanka as a tourist destination has been evident. In 2012, post office worldwide holiday costs barometer named Sri Lanka as the best valued destination for holidays.[1]

Beaches[edit]

Beach at Arugam Bay

West Coast[edit]

South Coast[edit]

East Coast[edit]

North Coast[edit]

Heritage Sites[edit]

There are eight world heritage sites in Sri Lanka:[2]

Kandy, a World Heritage Site

Together with the Central Highlands and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.

Wildlife parks[edit]

Leopards at Yala National Park
Tourism in Yala National Park

Sports and Adventure[edit]

Sri Lanka is a destination for sports tourism. Popular sports include Golf, Surfing, Diving & Snorkeling, Hot Air Ballooning, Rafting and Canoeing, Scuba Diving, Fishing, Cycling, Hiking, Trekking and Rock Climbing.

Locations popular for specific sports are:

Scenic Beauty[edit]

Waterfalls of Sri Lanka[edit]

Botanical Gardens of Sri Lanka[edit]

Festivals[edit]

For a country where people practice four main religions Sri Lanka has always maintained religious harmony among communities. With Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity playing important roles of lives of people Sri Lanka has religious or cultural festivals throughout the year.

Famous festivals of Sri Lanka

  • Duruthu Perahera
  • Thai Pongal
  • Aluth Sahal Mangallaya
  • Milad un-Nabi
  • Independence Day Celebrations
  • Navam Perahera
  • Maha Shivratri
  • Sinhala and Tamil New Year Celebrations
  • Easter Celebrations
  • Galle Literary Festival
  • Vesak Festival
  • Poson Festival
  • Esala Perehara
  • Katharagama Festival
  • Vel Festival
  • Hikkaduwa Beach Festival
  • Ramadan festival
  • Colombo Art Biennale
  • Sri Lanka Design Festival
  • Christmas
  • Electric Peacock Festival

Essence[edit]

Dance Forms[edit]

There are three main traditional dance forms in Sri Lanka:

1) Kandyan Dancing,

2) Low Country Dancing,

3) Sabaragamuwa Dancing

Though not unique to Sri Lanka 'Bharatanatyam' which originated from India is also popular in Sri Lanka particularly among the Tamil community.

Tea[edit]

Sri Lanka is the 3rd biggest tea producing country in the world. The country is best known in the world market for the production of unorthodox tea. Tea was introduced to the country by the British who called the country “Ceylon”. Pure “Ceylon Tea” is considered some of the finest tea produced anywhere in the world.

Handicrafts[edit]

Different types of handicrafts are available in Sri Lanka:

  • Wood carving
  • Silver wear
  • Brass castings
  • Ceramic ware
  • Bamboo products
  • Pottery
  • Batiks
  • Lace works
  • Cane works
  • Costume jewelry
  • Lacquerware
  • Wooden masks
  • Coir goods
  • Handlooms
  • Ivory products

People of Sri Lanka[edit]

The main ethnic groups are:

  • Sinhalese, 75%
  • Sri Lankan Tamil, 11%
  • Sri Lanka Moor, Muslim, 9%
  • Indian Tamil, 4%
  • Burghers
  • Others 1%

Sri Lankan people are generally known for their hospitality. Most tourists admire the genuine smile of the people according to airport exit surveys.

Tourism industry[edit]

Routemaster used as a tour bus in Colombo

The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami[4] and the past civil war have reduced tourist arrivals but Sri Lanka received over half a million tourists in 2006.[5]

The International media reports published about the improvements in industry of January 2008 by 0.6%,[6] March 2008 by 8.6%[7] when comparing to last year's (2007) figures. It was reported that in the year 2011, total revenue from the tourists arrival to the country is $830.3 million from 850,000 tourists inflow. Further, the tourism board expects over 1 million tourists in 2012 with revenue of more than $1 billion.[8]

The number of arrivals from the Meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions (MICE) sector is also growing, in particular from India. The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau is targeting a 20% growth rate for MICE arrivals from India.[9]

Some of the major hotel development projects currently underway in Sri Lanka are listed below.[10]

Colombo

  • Shangri-La Colombo: The Hong Kong-based company recently broke ground for a 661-room tower near the storied seafront Galle Face Green in the capital. Expected to open 2015.
  • The sights and scenes in Galle, an ancient town in Sri Lanka that was granted Unesco World Heritage status in the late '80s.
  • Sheraton Hotels and Resorts Colombo: Starwood Hotels will make its debut with this 306-room hotel opposite Galle Face Green. Slated to open October 2013.
  • Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts Colombo: The Swiss company’s entrée will be a 180-room downtown hotel. Target opening date is the middle of 2013.
  • Jetwing Colombo: Local hotel group Jetwing’s project will have 70 rooms and 28 serviced apartments. Opening April 2014.

The South

  • Shangri-La Hambantota: A 145-acre resort with 315 rooms in southern Hambantota district, with an 18-hole golf course, dive center, and CHI Spa. Scheduled to open in 2014.
  • Avani Kalutara: The second property under the new mid-market brand by Minor Hotel Group and local partner Serendib Leisure will be opened later this year. Located an hour south of Colombo, it will have 105 rooms.
  • Anantara Kalutara: A 138-room upscale resort with a spa, opening late 2013.
  • Soneva Ahungalla: Bangkok-based Six Senses’ founder Sonu Shivdasani is partnering with Sri Lanka’s Aitken Spence Hotels to create an exclusive 71-villa project, occupying 10½ acres of beachfront land and the 26-acre Meeraladuwa Island, just south of Bentota. Slated for early 2014.
  • Jetwing Yala Safari, Yala: The original luxury game lodge at one of the country’s best-known parks was destroyed in the 2004 tsunami. The new development will have 70 rooms and 28 villas and is expected to open in April 2013.

The East

  • Jetwing Reef, Uppuveli: This 68-room property, set to open December 2013, will be among the first high-end resorts to open in the region since the war ended.

Social and environmental impacts of tourism

Tourism in Sri Lanka, despite its benefits for the local economy (it is one of the main foreign income sources of the country), is undergoing several critics. Thus, some studies indicate that a quick modern tourism development would not cater to the specific needs of the local people.[11] Also, the high biodiversity of Sri Lanka seems to be threatened by the development of mass tourism which has already affected several natural reserves. Some endangered animal species seem to be seriously threatened by the rise of tourism in some areas: that is the case of the Keerthisinghe’s Rock Frog, which is endemic in Sri Lanka.[12]

An alternative kind of tourism - called Ecotourism, sustainable tourism or responsible tourism - enables travelers to do tourism throughout Sri Lanka while contributing on the well-being of the local communities and making sure the environmental impact is limited.[13] The Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation is the national organization that created an official ecotourism network through the island, allowing to develop sustainable tourism with wide options of travel. In 2010, the foundation won the presidential awards for "Outstanding Contribution for Tourism in Sri Lanka".[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Holiday Costs Barometer 2012". 
  2. ^ "UNESCO World Heritage Sites". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  3. ^ {{cite
    • Nilgala Herbal Garden- located 11 km away from Bibile.(Bibile - Ampara Road)also Best Place for Bird watching
    news|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2010/12/101201_junga.shtml%7Ctitle=Mullaitivu wildlife sanctuary|work=BBC Sinhala|date=2010-12-01}}
  4. ^ "Tsunami region seeks tourism boost". CNN. January 6, 2005. 
  5. ^ A war strange as fiction, The Economist
  6. ^ Aneez, Shihar (February 15, 2008). "Sri Lanka Jan tourist arrivals up 0.6 pct vs yr ago". Reuters. 
  7. ^ Sirilal, Ranga (April 16, 2008). "Sri Lanka March tourist arrivals up 8.6 pct yr/yr". Reuters. 
  8. ^ "Sri Lanka's May tourist arrivals rise 17.5 pct yr/yr". 
  9. ^ Samath, Feizal (November 8, 2012). "Sri Lanka reaches out for more Indian MICE". TTGmice. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Hotels Return to Sri Lanka". 
  11. ^ Evan Due (1980). "Tourism and Development: Examining the Case of Sri Lanka". Open Access Dissertations and Theses. 
  12. ^ Gazala Anver. "Tourism Threatening Endangered Species". The Sunday Leader. 
  13. ^ J. Thumira Gunasena. "Tourism in Sri Lanka and its Impact on Social Political and Natural Environment". 
  14. ^ "SRI LANKA ECOTOURISM FOUNDATION". 

External links[edit]