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John outlines numerous initiatives taken to develop tourist hotspots

The Government has taken a number of new initiatives to develop tourist hotspots in the country to facilitate and encourage more tourists to visit Sri Lanka.

Tourism Development and Wildlife Minister John Amaratunga this week outlined that the new facilities and developments at popular destinations across the country included Arugam Bay, Yala, Ella and Nuwara Eliya.

According to the Minister, a few extra entrances will be opened at Yala National Park this month to reduce the traffic generated at the main entrances. In addition, he said they would open a new ticketing counter as the online booking facility was not available at present.

“We are opening two new circuit bungalows and other essential facilities like lavatories at the Yala National Park. The Tourism Development and Wildlife Ministry Secretary and the Wildlife Department Direct General are now working on it,” Amaratunga added.

The Minister also said that Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) would award liquor licenses to hotels, restaurants and home stay units operating in Arugam Bay, a popular surfing hotspot for many tourists.

Furthermore, he said that they had developed a new concept called ‘agro tourism’ in Nuwara Eliya. “A person who is travelling Nuwara Eliya will now have the opportunity of visiting this park, where they grow various types of vegetables, observing how they are being treated and learn about the technical side,” he added.

Pointing out that there had been a quite a number of complaints regarding high ticket prices of heritage sites, the Minister a discussion would be held shortly with the Cultural Affairs Ministry with regard to a reasonable rate and to look into the possibility of a round trip ticket to enable tourists to visit multiple heritage sites.

He also said that they were working on the high priced railway tickets to Ella being sold to tourists. “There are so many complaints on railway tickets being sold to tourists at a higher price than the normal ticket rate. We are talking to the authorities to ensure that such incidents won’t happen again,” the Minister stressed.

He pointed out that the Government had heavily focused on connectivity measures to ensure tourists could explore the destination smoothly.

“We have worked on both air and road connectivity over the past several years. We recently commenced the development work of the Palaly Airport and similarly the highways are now under construction. A number of luxury buses have also been ordered, particularly for tourists,” the Minister said.

(FT)

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