Sri Lanka looks at setting up tourist friendly railway stations
Daily FT: A joint committee consisting of Secretaries to the Ministries of Tourism and Transport will be appointed to expedite the modernisation of railway stations to make them attractive to tourists. Its purpose is to avoid delays in existing railway station modernisation projects and to complete them expeditiously.
The decision was taken at a discussion between Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Transport Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, officials of the Tourism Development Authority and officials of the Railway Department recently.
As such, the Ministry of Tourism has taken steps to modernise Nanu Oya, Weligama, Ella, Bandarawela, Bentota, Galle and Haputale railway stations as tourist attractions.
The renovation work at Ella, Bandarawela, Bentota and Galle railway stations has already been completed, Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism S. Hettiarachchi said.
He pointed out that complaints have been received that the Railway Department is not maintaining them properly. The Minister of Transport instructed the Railway authorities to look into the matter immediately.
A sum of Rs. 62 million has been allocated this year for the modernisation of Bandarawela and Nanu Oya railway stations. The old warehouse at Haputale Railway Station is expected to be developed as a tourist lounge. There are also plans to build a tourist observation centre and a facility centre.
It was revealed that the Ministry of Tourism is planning to modernise the fertiliser storage at the Kadugannawa Railway Station and develop it as a tourist rest house.
Also, Tourist Information Centres will be set up at Colombo Fort, Kandy and Galle railway stations.
There was a lengthy discussion on the modernisation of several compartments of trains running to tourist destinations as modern restaurants and the establishment of mobile libraries.
The Ministry of Tourism also proposed to add a luxury compartment to the train running to Trincomalee and the Ministry of Transport agreed to this.
The Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga stated that after the renovation of the train stations as tourist attractions and handing over to the Ministry of Transport, a maintenance system should be developed.
Ranatunga suggested that a committee consisting of Secretaries to the Ministries be appointed for this purpose and pointed out that a joint program should be prepared to develop the tourist attractions of the Railway Department.
The Minister of Transport agreed to this, and it was decided at this meeting that the relevant committee would meet within two weeks, prepare the relevant proposals, present them to the two Ministers and reconvene to take further action.
Sri Lanka’s tourism authorities are engaged in a promotional campaign to boost the tourism industry in all foreign source markets. Emphasis is also been paid to developing the infrastructure in the country to meet the demands of a growing tourism industry. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is once again on the path to recovery after facing the impact of the global Covid 19 pandemic. The steady growth in tourist arrivals to the country is indicative of this. The positive growth in the country’s tourism industry has also attracted the attention of international leisure and hospitality brands who have expressed interest in entering the country. Foreign businesses/investors while exploring opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry could also look at business opportunities in developing supplementary infrastructure facilities for the sector.
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