By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) this year will focus much of its efforts in the area of sports to address the lack of activities available in the country and promoting it as a top destination.
“Sri Lanka will soon offer a wide range of sports activities. In addition to cricket there will be water sports,” said Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga while highlighting the efforts taken in making the tourism sector the highest revenue earner for the nation.
“We understand many foreigners are interested in that. Kite surfacing, diving, whale watching, dolphin watching and much more; there is a lot of encouragement given in that direction,” he added.
The minister said the decision to focus on the new area was taken with foreigners having repeatedly highlighting the lack of events in the country.
“The feedback received from travellers time and again is that there are not many events to keep them occupied. With Sri Lanka blessed with natural resources, we are sure focusing on sports activities will help make Sri Lanka even attractive,” shared Amaratunga.
However, a firm action plan in executing sport tourism as an effective strategy was not shared or outlined.
According to the official Sri Lanka Travel website, the current sporting activities offered in the island include golf, surfing, diving and snorkelling, hot air ballooning, rafting, scuba diving, fishing, cycling, hiking, trekking and rock climbing.
Popular locations for sports tourism are Kitulgala for while water rafting, Arugam Bay and Midigama for surfing, Bentota, Bolgoda, Madhu ganga and Koggala for boating and Knuckles Mountain Range, Horton Plains and Sripada (Adam’s Peak) for trekking.
Furthermore, Amaratunga pointed out that the authorities have taken up planning exercises keeping the private sector at the core, which would allow the industry to reach its ambitious target of four million tourists by 2020.
“Regulated by the ministry, a private sector approach is facilitated. This is our contribution towards the industry and I must say the private sector is moving on rapidly.”
He asserted the reaching of the goal is not impossible given the “speed” the industry is developing.