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Sri Lanka launches new themed tourism development zones

Sri Lanka is working towards its goal of attracting five million holidaymakers by 2020. In an effort to boost the number of arrivals officials have announced the launch of themed tourism development zones. The details of the project are expected to be unveiled at the upcoming Asia Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference.

Sri Lanka launches new themed tourism development zones

In an effort to boost the number of travellers booking holidays to Sri Lanka each year, local officials have announced plans to launch themed tourism development zones.

According to initial reports, there will be between five and eight “Themed International Tourism and Family Entertainment Zones” each of which will be developed on state owned lands that will showcase Sri Lanka’s natural beauty including its beaches, mountainous areas and forested areas.

The development themes are expected to include luxury tourism, eco-tourism, wellness and yoga, adventure and family activities. Notably, the first zone Lanka Patuna is already under construction. Spread across 180 hectares of beachfront land, Lanka Patuna is expected to house as many as 30 luxury hotels.

Officials are expected to disclose full details of the programme and the steps that will be taken to attract international investment at the inaugural Asia Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC) due to be held later this month in Colombo. Tourism Minister John Amaratunga highlighted some of the steps being taken to ensure that the venture would be a success.

“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.”

Officials in Sri Lanka have set a target of welcoming up to five million holidaymakers by the year 2020 along with a target of tourism revenue to be increased to US$10 billion. Recent figures show positive developments in the country’s tourism sector. The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) reported a 13.7 per cent increase in the number of tourist arrivals in October 2016 compared to the same period last year.

Additionally, the number of arrivals for the first ten months of the year has exceeded 1.6 million- a 14.6 per cent increase over the same period in 2015. In 2015, Sri Lanka welcomed approximately 1.8 million holidaymakers with the sector generating US$2.98 billion in revenue. 

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