Sri Lanka’s Tourism Ministry says first-ever trekking trail in the pipeline
The Sunday Morning: The Ministry of Tourism together with the European Union (EU) has partnered to develop Sri Lanka’s first-ever 325-kilometre trekking trail with an investment of Rs. 50 million to target adventurous tourists, particularly from Australia and New Zealand.
Speaking to The Sunday Morning, Ministry of Tourism Secretary S. Hettiarachchi stated that the aim of investing over Rs. 50 million in this new development project was to encourage tourists to revisit the country as trekking this entire trail in the first attempt itself would be impossible.
Explaining further, he said that discussions would commence in the near future with the Ministry of Plantation Industries, Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, and other associated ministries before publishing the Gazette.
“The trial will begin from Hanthana in Kandy District. Initially, the trail will be developed up to 25 km and then the rest will be continued. Further, along the trail, we are planning to develop QR codes for information, sanitary facilities, lodgings, and boutiques,” Hettiarachchi said.
He said there would be several tourist attractive locations for backpackers to enjoy along the trail.
According to Hettiarachchi, the project will be completed in December 2022. However, he was not able to disclose the exact figure of investment that will be put into the development of the project in the initial phase.
In January, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairperson Kimarli Fernando at a press conference stated that the tourism target for 2022 was to achieve at least half of the arrivals recorded in 2018, which translates to around 100,000 tourist arrivals per month.
Commenting on targeted tourism arrivals for 2022, Fernando stated: “In 2020 we had about 500,000 arrivals before the country was closed, 1.9 million in 2019, and the highest tourist arrivals were recorded in 2018 at 2.3 million arrivals, which meant an average of around 200,000 tourists per month and 6,600 tourists per day. On the other hand, investments in the tourism sector in 2021 have increased beyond the pre-Covid-19 figures recorded in 2019 following recent efforts made by Sri Lanka Tourism to streamline the investment application process and at co-ordinating the approval processes with other line agencies.”
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is also part of the country’s overall development programme with much attention being paid to the promotion of new tourism concepts. The country’s tourism authorities are focused on addressing the growing requirements of the discerning foreign traveler. Sri Lanka has received quite a lot of exposure in the international media as a must visit destination as well as being listed among the Top 10 island destinations. The continuously increasing number of journalists is testament to the increasing interesting shown in the country by foreign travelers. The partnership with the EU to develop Sri Lanka’s first ever trekking trail is a clear indication of the focus on developing the country’s tourism industry. On the other hand, it also portrays the growing business potential in the industry. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore confidently explore the growing opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.
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