Think Sri Lanka and some of the things that come to mind are Asian elephants and Ceylon tea. Delve deeper and you’ll discover a nation of rich heritage and wonders including lush greenery, monasteries, palaces, temples and theatres.
The country is among the beauties of the sub-continent that features a peaceful environment and a hard-working community.
Among ancient cities, a visit to Anuradhapura is a must as it holds the title as a sacred city by Buddhists around the world. Kandy is a scene to behold. With spiraling roads and refreshing environment, Kandy is especially beautiful around the Monsoon season when cool temperatures call to unwind with a warm cup of Ceylon tea.
For the adventurous, water sports such as rafting and gliding are slowly gaining popularity across its gleaming streams.
Wildlife is abundant in Sri Lanka, as it is known to be among the top five hotspots for biodiversity. Visitors to the Bundala National Park can spot monkeys, fruit bats and various species of water and migratory birds, as well as other fauna and flora — a photographers treat.
Safari to view nature’s best
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a nursery and breeding ground for wild Asian elephants. It’s a great place to get up close and personal with the mammals. Visitors can also feed the animals from a high point. You can also embark on a safari to view nature’s best.
Tea gardens spanning across lush fields denote the country’s booming tea production. Fresh, aromatic and bursting with flavour, Sri Lanka’s tea leaves are fragrant and refreshing, not to mention it offers great value for quality. It is also proud of its traditional crafts that showcase its distinct culture. Sri Lanka is also an attractive destination for medical tourism with world-class internationally accredited healthcare about 70 per cent comparatively cheaper than Singapore and Thailand.
Spas and massages are a favourite among tourists offering mineral-enriched packs and herbal, therapeutic concoctions to melt stress away.
According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), the country saw a 19.8 per cent rise in tourist arrivals in 2014 with 1,527,153 visitors compared to 1,274,593 in 2013.
In January 2012, the country introduced the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for short-term visa in order to ease the flow of arrivals.
Ideal holiday destination
A chunk of Sri Lanka’s GDP comes from tourism and in an attempt to further raise numbers; the Ministry of Economic Development launched a five-year Tourism Development Strategy where it aims to reach a target number of 2.5 million visitors by the year 2016. This includes improving the country’s infrastructure, agriculture and product market.
A report by the Department of Census and Statistics shows that Sri Lanka’s GDP expanded by 7.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2014, compared to the same period the year before. Agriculture and tea production takes precedence in exports aside from textiles and rubber.
Keeping up with the rest of the world, Sri Lanka has set Millennium Development Goals (MDG) as a priority in the national agenda in a bid to improve the overall structure of the nation and combat poverty by the end of year 2015.
Its lush cities combined with warm hospitality and scrumptious food makes it an ideal holiday destination, attracting thousands of tourists every year. The UAE is home to a number of Sri Lankan expats, who take up respectable positions and contribute to their home country’s economy via remittances. The nation is on its way to steady growth alongside notable tourism and investment opportunities.
Courtesy: Farhana Chowdhury for Khaleej Times