One of the first major initiatives of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, then known as the Ceylon Tourist Board, upon its formulation in 1968 was to plan and develop a National Holiday Resort in Bentota.
The Holiday Resort, which was officially opened on December 19th, 1969 by J.R. Jayewardene, Minister of State, was identified in the first 10-Year Tourism Master Plan as a means to stimulate and motivate private sector investment in tourism.
Today, the resort comprises 1-star to 5-star hotels, restaurants, telecommunication centres, banks, shops, transport services, police station, and a centre for water activities. It is one of the most visited and enjoyable areas in Sri Lanka for international and domestic tourists. In addition, a central waste water and sewerage treatment plan was set up in the late 1990s as a common facility for all hoteliers in Bentota - the first time for this communal partnership. The Bentota National Holiday Resort is the best example in Sri Lanka of how well-planned tourism is successful and sustainable, creating the least negative impact in the area and bringing together all stakeholders.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Resort, the SLTDA held a grand ceremony from the 18th-20th of December.
The three-day event included exhibitions of wild-life photographs, traditional handi-crafts, local cuisine, and flora and fauna; competitions in art, cycling, kite flying etc.; and, the opening of the Fishing Village and launching of local tourism initiatives such as signage development, life saving demonstrations, wind surfing and jet skiing, and tree planting.