East Coast tourism infrastructure to be improved


Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs,  John Amaratunga on a fact finding tour of Arugam Bay on Tuesday. The Minister was accompanied by Member of Parliament, Ali Zaheer Moulana

Tourism infrastructure in Passikudah and Arugam Bay will receive a facelift following an inspection tour of the east coast by Tourism Development Minister, John Amaratunga last week.

The long neglected east coast has seen renewed interest in recent times with the opening up of many luxury hotels especially in Passikudah and Arugam Bay. Well established local hotel chains like Aitken Spence, Amaya, Theme Resorts and Jetwing have opened hotels in these areas, catering to the growing interest in the stunning, unspoilt beaches.

While the potential for tourism continues to grow in this region, one aspect that has not received due attention is the development of local infrastructure to keep pace with the growing number of tourists arriving in the area.

Following numerous requests from hoteliers Minister of Tourism Development, John Amaratunga visited Passikudah, Eravur and Arugam Bay last week on a fact finding tour.

It was revealed during meetings with hoteliers, guest house owners and other industry stakeholders in Passikudah and Arugam Bay that tourism infrastructure required urgent attention. Among the many issues that were brought to the attention of the Minister were the poor quality of water supply, garbage disposal issues, non- maintenance of sewage and rain water drains, poor street lighting, unclean public beaches, issues concerning ownership of premises and operating licenses, and the sharing of resources between the local fishing community and hoteliers.

The meetings were held with the participation ofhoteliers, guest house owners, local government authorities, Tourism Development Authority officials, fishing community representatives, local business chamber representatives and Members of Parliament representing the area. Solutions were found to many of the issues that were brought up during the discussions. Minister Amaratunga instructed the officials that all issues discussed should be resolved in the shortest possible time and a review of the progress will be carried out in a month’s time at the Tourism Ministry.

In a novel case of public and private sector cooperation, the hoteliers in Arugam Bay agreed to a proposal by the Tourism Minister to invest in street lights for the roads while the local authorities agreed to maintain them as a solution to the street lights issue.

“It is unfortunate that up to now no attention has been paid to the problems faced by the tourism industry in these areas. The focus has only been on increasing the number of visitors. We should also look at improving the infrastructure while working towards increasing the numbers. We are very happy that despite the shortcomings there is rapid growth in both the number of tourists and the number of hotels that have come up in this area,” said Tourism Development Minister, John Amaratunga.

Passikudah hoteliers requested the Minister to look in to the possibility of setting up emergency facilities like a fire fighting unit and an ambulance service, both of which are lacking in the area.

Taking in to consideration the high number of tourists visiting Arugam Bay, it was decided to set up a Tourist Information Center and also a Hospitality Training Center. It was also decided to set up a surfing school in Arugam Bay to cater to the many tourists that come to the area for surfing.

“We have been informed that a top level UNWTO conference is to be held in Passikudah in June this year. We have very little time to get things in order. I’m personally interested in seeing that issues faced by the hoteliers are resolved prior to this conference,” said Minister Amaratunga.

“Also the weather in Passikudah in particular and the Eastern coast in general is perfect for tourism all year round. The concept of a season and off season is no longer valid. The Tourism Ministry will work towards promoting this region as a year round destination,” said Minister Amaratunga.

Members of Parliament Ali Zaheer Moulana and S. Yogeswaran were associated with the Minister at the discussion. Among the officials present were Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Ministry Secretary, Janaka Sugathadasa, Additional Secretary, Shiranee Weerakoon, Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management Chairman Sunil Dissanayake, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority officials, Senior DIG in charge of the area and the Chairmen of Pradeshiya Sabhas and Urban Councils.


Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/521111/East-Coast-tourism-infrastructure-to-be-improved#sthash.PE20DHC5.dpuf


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