COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has unveiled a plan to launch a series of themed tourism development zones to draw more international investment and tourists to the island nation. The country has aimed to generate US$10 billion in international tourism revenues by 2020.
There were reports that at least five and up to eight “Themed International Tourism and Family Entertainment Zones” will be developed on plots of state-owned land covering more than 600 hectares. These include beaches, mountainous areas and forested regions, all selected for their outstanding natural beauty.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Club is working with government ministries to execute the project. Its full plans are expected to presented at the inaugural Asia Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC) scheduled in Colombo this month.
“Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is very much private-sector driven. The government role is restricted to that of regulator, monitor and facilitator,” said Tourism Minister John Amaratunga. “I have formed an advisory committee of leaders of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries whose input is sought on a regular basis on all matters of national interest in the tourism sector. They are the driving force that guides the industry. We are accelerating and widening the scope for investors by actively making reforms to reduce bureaucracy. We want to speed up decision making,” he added.
The first zone for the five-year development plan will be Lanka Patuna. It is already under construction on 180 hectares of beachfront land. This is set to have up to 30 luxury hotels.