End of Sri Lanka's civil war brings back tourists
Sunday 16 August 2009
The end of Sri Lanka’s bitter civil war has seen a rapid jump in the number of tourists visiting the island – a leap that officials say represents part of the peace dividend. Tourist arrivals in July increased by 28 per cent from a year ago, the second straight rise since May.
“This is mainly due to the peace situation in the country,” S Kalaiselvam, director general at the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, told Reuters. “We are confident of achieving at least similar to last year’s figure and revenue. Our target is to get 2.5 million tourists and $2.5bn (£1.5bn) revenue in 2016.”
Tourism has long been a key source of revenue for Sri Lanka, which enjoys no fewer than seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, and plenty of idyllic beaches. But the trade was badly hit, first by 2004’s devastating tsunami, and then by the reignition of the decades-long civil war a little more than a year later. Since then much of the north of the country has been off-limits to visitors, and the capital, Colombo, has been under threat from suicide bombings.
But the war finally ended in May this year after government troops routed the last remnants of the once powerful Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and killed their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and now it appears that Westerners are beginning to return. In an effort to encourage the resurgence in visitors, the government recently announced a major new 4,000-acre tourist development 100 miles north of Colombo at Kalpitiya.
But the war’s consequences are far from over for civilians caught in the war zone. Around 280,000 are being held in internment camps while they undergo security checks and the government carries out mine-clearing operations. Despite protestations from the government, campaigners say the conditions in these camps are poor and that the civilians should be allowed home.
The country’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has vowed to provide a political settlement for the Tamil minority of the country, though he has said this cannot happen yet. In elections earlier this month in the north of Sri Lanka, Mr Rajapaksa’s ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance swept to victory in Sinhalese-dominated Uva province and scraped a win in Jaffna. Less pleasing for the government, the Tamil National Alliance – political allies of the defeated LTTE rebels – won control of Vavuniya.
sportBayern Munich 2 Manchester City 3: City come from two down to beat reigning European Champions
newsAs the world remembers Mandela the hero, the prison where he spent 27 years seems all the more brutal
arts + ents... and a chance to paint Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel
danceUnder Tamara Rojo's inspired direction, it seems possible that it could challenge the dominance of the Royal Ballet. We meet some established names and rising stars
travelDiscover Uruguay's jet-set beach resort, an Atlantic enclave with plenty of art and culture to explore on the side
The ten coldest places on Earth
Sir Ian McKellen hits back at Damian Lewis' 'fruity actor' claims
Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
Government delays EU immigration report because it is too positive
'I'm experiencing austerity as well', says Princess Michael of Kent
- 1 Mountain goats' miraculous escape from avalanche captured in dramatic video footage
- 2 Gurdwaras-turned-food banks: Sikh temples are catering for rise in Britain’s hungry
- 3 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 4 Government delays EU immigration report because it is too positive
- 5 'I'm experiencing austerity as well', says Princess Michael of Kent
- < Previous
- Next >
£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Junior/Grad C# .NET Wi...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer (VB6,.NET, SQL, Winforms) Wokin...
£35999 - £44001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top Tier practi...
£41000 - £46000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Academically Exce...