Major plans for Kalpitiya

Kalpitiya-Plans-3

SLTDA Chairman Paddy Withana, Ministry Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa, Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando, Minister John Amaratunga, Chief Minister Dharmasiri Dassanayake and District Secretary with other officials

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Long neglected Kalpitiya is to be made a special tourism zone. This was revealed during a meeting Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga had with officials in Kalpitiya last week.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Paddy Withana said that a tourism master plan will be drawn up for the Kalpitiya region with priority being given to the development of the local economy including creation of job opportunities for youth in the area.

These decisions were made following a fact finding tour of the peninsula last week by Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga and Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando.

Many issues faced by hotel owners, kite surfers, local authorities, fishing community and religious leaders were brought to the attention of the Minister. During a visit to Kudawa, which is the main kite surfing area, kite school owners voiced their concern with regard to use of the lagoon.

It was pointed out that due to the popularity of the sport, various individuals were in the habit of intruding into the lagoon area used by the established schools to engage in the sport. There are four established kite surfing and windsurfing schools operating in the Kudawa and Kandakuliya areas and these schools are considered the pioneers of the sport in this country. They claim that they are the ones that established the sport in Kalpitiya seven years ago.

Today many more have entered the arena leading to a chaotic situation.

Secretary of the Kalpitiya Windsports Club, Dilsiri Welikala said that their main concern is the safety of the kitesurfers as it can be a dangerous sport if not done properly. “What we request is proper professional management of the kite surfing area so that it is not congested thereby posing a danger to surfers and also to ensure the location stays attractive to surfers. Kite surfing in countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines has been ruined due to poor management of the sport. We don’t want the same thing to happen here,” he said.

Minister Amaratunga who studied the lagoon area where hundreds of kite surfers were enjoying the sport said the time was ripe for the authorities to step in and regulate the sport. He said Kalpitiya should be transformed in to a world class kite surfing destination. Some of the measures taken were to set up a public park on the beach where vehicles will not be allowed to travel on the sand bank, demarcation of training and surfing areas in the lagoon, space for fishermen to carry out their trade without hindrance from surfers and registration of all windsurfing schools and hotels with the SLTDA. Minimum safety measures will be specified for those engaging in the sport.

The Kalpitiya peninsula has a total of 14 islands. While some of these islands are inhabited by fisher folk the rest remain uninhabited. Minister John Amaratunga accompanied by Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando and Ministry officials visited some of these islands.

Vellali Island which is a fairly large island in the lagoon is to be the star attraction in the local tourism scene. The reason being a Maldivian entrepreneur is to build a luxury hotel on this island based on the water bungalow concept in the Maldives.

According to the investor he was struck by the similarity between the Maldives and the Kalpitiya islands. The multi-million rupee investment aims to recreate the Maldivian experience right here in Sri Lanka.

Tourism Minister John Amaratunga while welcoming the investment proposal noted that the project will raise the bar for the hospitality trade across the country. “This is a game changer. We have not seen this concept in Sri Lanka before. It will certainly add a new dimension to our luxury hotel range,” said Minister Amaratunga. He also announced that another island will be developed by an Indian investor. He said it was a prerequisite for all developers to protect the diversity of the islands and the environment.

Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando pointed out that the Kalpitiya region has a rich history behind it. In fact the first overseas visitor to this country, Prince Vijaya had landed on the island at a spot not far away from Kalpitiya and easily reached by boat. He said this would be of great interest to tourists.

Minister Amaratunga noted that tourists in Kalpitiya could easily visit Wilpattu National Park which was across the lagoon, if a suitable entry point could be set up at the park. He said he will discuss the matter with the Wildlife authorities and explore the possibility of setting up such an entry point on the coast. This will drastically cut down travel time between Kalpitiya and Wilpattu, making the region a tourism hot spot.

Meanwhile Minister Amaratunga noted that the access roads to the many hotels in the peninsula were in a deplorable state. During a meeting with local officials including the Chief Minister of the Wayamba Province, Dharmasiri Dassanayake it was decided to immediately begin reconstruction work on the road starting from Kandakuliya junction to Uchchamanay. Meanwhile the Minister said that he will look at the possibility of constructing a bridge at Mohutturama which will enable access to the northern beach of the peninsula from the town area.

The Minister also instructed the officials to expedite work on the access road to Alankudah, which too was found to be in a very poor state. The road to Illanthadi is also earmarked for development.

The Tourism Minister pointed out that with the development of tourism in the region it was important to provide electricity to some of the coastal areas which still lack this basic facility. As a result it was decided to supply electricity right up to Uchchamanay from Kalpitiya town. “This will be an incentive for the investors looking at the leisure sector in this area. Once the electricity supply is established we will look at providing water as well,” said Minister Amaratunga. Chief Minister Dassanayake gave an assurance that he will take a personal interest in the envisaged development activities and see to it that the projects are fast tracked.

Minister Amaratunga called on the hoteliers in the area to contribute to the development of the local communities. He reminded them that profit should not be the only motive, and that they should financially contribute to some of the proposed development projects. He called upon the hoteliers to find a solution to the garbage disposal issue.

The Minister expressed his displeasure at the manner in which the Kalpitiya Rest House was being managed. “These Rest Houses are meant for people who cannot afford luxury hotels to have a holiday. But no decent family can go to the Kalpitiya Rest House because it has been transformed in to a tavern. The SLTDA will take steps to refurbish this place and hand it over to a suitable operator,” he said. Minister Amaratunga emphasised that local investors will be given priority in the allocation of land for new hotels in the area. He encouraged the local business community to grab the opportunities available before it was too late.

The Minister said that until recently Kalpitiya was famous for its prawn farms and mud crabs which were exported to countries like Singapore. He said times were now changing where in addition to these industries, tourism in Kalpitiya was also emerging as a growing foreign exchange earner.

Among the officials associated with the Minister on his fact finding tour were Ministry of Tourism Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Paddy Withana, SLTDA Director General Malraj Kiriella, Additional Secretary to the Ministry S. Weerakoon, the District Secretary, Government Agent, police and naval officials, representatives of the hospitality sector and fishing community, and the Catholic clergy.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/525285/Major-plans-for-Kalpitiya#sthash.fw9RCRMY.dpuf

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