- Initiative to benefit the Northern province
- SLTDA to open sub office in Jaffna soon
- Wigneswaran says will back the move as long as their regional rights not violated
Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga said yesterday the government has strongly considered the possibility of resuming the ferry service between Rameshwaram and Thalaimannar.
Amaratunga, addressing the World Tourism Day celebration at the University of Jaffna said the government was keen to proceed with the plan as it would strongly benefit the Northern Province, including its tourism sector.
He also said the Palali Airport, which operated as a military airport for a long time, had been opened up for civilian transport.
The Tourism Minister further stated that the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) would soon open up a sub office in Jaffna to expedite the industry’s growth in the province.
He requested the Tamil diaspora to return to the country and invest in the tourism industry in the North.
“Whenever I meet members of the Tamil diaspora when I go overseas, I request them to come back. That way, they will help themselves and also the community. That is because tourism offers a great opportunity to the Northern Province” he added.
Northern Province Chief Minister in his speech at the same event urged the tourism authorities of the government to tap into the full tourism potential of the North by resolving ‘bottlenecks’ in fund allocations, industry expertise and planning.
Addressing the World Tourism Day celebration at the University of Jaffna, the Chief Minister said his province had many places that could be developed into provincial tourism hubs through right strategies and fund allocation.
“We need more tourism experts in our province to realize its full potential” the Chief Minister stressed, adding that he had presented several comprehensive plans to the government on tourism development in the North.
Wigneswaran, highlighting the importance of the tourism industry for better revenue generation, said the scenic islands in Jaffna and other beaches in the Mullaitivu area could be developed into major tourist attractions, similar to those in the Eastern Province.
He said although a strip between Palaithivu and Pallikuda had been earmarked for a ferry service that would benefit the tourism industry, the process had come to a halt due to Navy occupation in the area.
The Chief Minister attributed the industry’s slow growth due to external factors such as anomalies in fund allocation and the absence of inclusive planning. “We have no reservations about working with the government or tourism bodies of the central government as long as our regional rights are not violated,” Wigneswaran stressed. Speaking at the World Tourism Day event, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Kavan Ratnayaka promised to fast track measures to develop tourism in the province, in a holistic and sustainable manner.
“Tourism, I am sure, will be the number 01 or 02 sector in Jaffna. But the industry in the province should grow in a manner that preserves the authenticity of the tourism experience it offers. You, in Jaffna, should remain who you are. At the same time, the growth of the industry should be sustainable,” he added.