Officials to re create the Bridge on the River Kwai in Sri Lanka's Kitulgala
Officials in the Sri Lankan town Kitulgala have announced plans to re create the bridge that was made famous in the 1957 Word War II movie "Bridge on the River Kwai". It is hoped that the reconstructed bridge will attract film lovers and neutralize the loss of tourism expected with the upcoming construction of a dam at the river, which is popular with white water rafters.
Officials have announced plans to re build the bridge that has helped to earn the 1957 movie "Bridge on the River Kwai" a place in film history. The bridge, which was famously blown up in the Second World War film, is now a key tourist attraction for film buffs and, arguably to an even greater extent, for thrill seekers who travel to Sri Lanka and visit Kitulgala to white raft down the river.
The decision to re build the iconic bridge was made in order to address fears of a loss in tourism thanks to a decision to dam the river as part of $82 million USD hydro-electric project. Chief project engineer Kamal Laksiri, explained:
"We have offered to rebuild the bridge at the same location. Today there is no bridge, only a few concrete posts remain. But we have looked at drawings and pictures of the bridge and we will recreate it."
Some see the decision to the rebuild the bridge as a suitable comprise, as it is expected that fans of the Oscar winning movie will flock to the site, located just a couple hours drive from Colombo, to see the reconstructed bridge. One local stated:
"My husband was an extra in the movie and we earn a living by guiding tourists."
However, others argue that the damming of the river will undoubtedly tame the rapids and make Kitulgala less appealing for tourists.
"If there is no rafting, there will be no need for tourists to come here What is the income you can get by issuing tickets to see a brand new bridge? That is not what we want. Even if you build it, what is the point? There will be no water under the bridge."
Stated Priyantha Pushpakumar, the secretary of the Sri Lanka White Water Rafting Association.
Sri Lanka has ambitions of becoming one the top holiday destinations in the Indian Ocean, in the short term Sri Lankan tourism officials are aiming for 1.5 million tourism arrivals for 2014 with a long term goal of 2.5 million by the year 2016. Recent figures show that the country is quickly working its way towards these key milestones with 861,324 visitors during the first eight months of the year- representing a 24.7 per cent increase in arrivals when compared with the same period last year.
Destinations like Kitulgala certainly play a key role in attracting holidaymakers and as a result many will be looking on with a keen and critical eye to see the impact of the changes at the iconic site.
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