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A view of the Maalu Maalu beach resort at Pasikuda.
BATTICALOA: Several hotel projects and tourism-related infrastructure are fast coming up in Eastern Sri Lanka, once ravaged by war, to propel the country to surpass its last year's tourist arrivals by a wide margin.
East Sri Lanka has some of the best beaches in Trincomalee (Uppuveli beach) and Batticaloa (Pasikuda), and off Ampara (Arugam Bay). In Pasikuda alone, 14 new hotel projects are coming up, with a total capacity of 1,000 rooms. Most projects have a gestation period of just over a year. The first one off the block, Maalu Maalu (meaning fish), has just opened for business.
Incidentally, Pasikuda was one of the first areas in south Asia to be declared a tourist spot in 1971, but it did not take off because of the war. The East was one of the worst affected areas in the 2004 tsunami and, later, periodic heavy rains. The government has announced making East a priority area to promote tourism.
According to the government's official website, Sri Lanka's tourism industry secured $1.2 billion foreign investment this year due to a post-war tourism boom and has raised its investment target to $3 billion within the next five years. The country aimed to upgrade the post-war tourism capacity in order to attract $2.7 billion in investments, with the goal of increasing revenue to $2.5 billion by 2016.
Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals are forecast to grow by 20 per cent to a record of more than 780,000 this year. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka said tourism revenue increased to 54.7 per cent in the first four months of this year to $270.6 million, compared to the corresponding period last year.
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