Posted by: lrrp | November 23, 2007

Historical places in the North Central Province lack tourists

Historical and religious sites of the Sigiriya and the Polonnaruwa areas has come to a standstill due to non arrival of local or foreign tourists and most of the small scale traders who run their businesses in the Cultural Triangle , Polonnaruwa say that they cannot manage their day to day expenses.

At present number of foreign countries have imposed travel warnings to their citizens on Sri Lankan security situation. Due to this there are no tourists at these historical sites.

“However some foreigners who work in local NGOs and other institutions visit these sites, but not many opportunities for us, said vendors.

A number of guest houses and small tourists’ resorts are also affected due to the dearth of tourists.

Britain has advised its citizens not to travel to the Yala wildlife sanctuary after a increase in killings and explosions. A travel advisory issued by Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth office said the British tourists must obtain advice of their tour operator or the local authorities before traveling to areas adjacent to Yala sanctuary.

Meanwhile Independent Safari Drivers Association has requested the government to provide concessions to meet their day to day problems due to the lack of tourists in Uda Walawe sanctuary. They issued a detailed report on their recent business and said most of hotels in Udawalawe also faced similar problem due to the lack of tourists.

The British Travel Advisory said it does not advise against travel to the city of Anuradhapura. Britons were advised that terrorist activity could take place anywhere in the country.

Local tourism industry faces number of difficulties due to these travel advisories. Beginning of this year, a number of countries including France relaxed their travel advisories.

But renewed LTTE activities have encouraged Britain and also Australia to tighten travel restrictions. On October 19, 2007 US Department of State has updated its travel advisory. It says this Travel Warning provides updated security information and alerts American citizens traveling to or living in Sri Lanka about the continuing danger of terrorist actions against military, government, and economic targets in certain areas of the country. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Sri Lanka dated April 5, 2007.

The Department of State specifically warns Americans against travel to northern and eastern areas of Sri Lanka.

While the government has effectively controlled the eastern part of the country since July 2007, security is not yet assured. Some LTTE members and larger numbers of armed paramilitary members are active in the area, leading to instability and incidents of violence. This situation is likely to continue for some time. Americans are particularly warned against travel to LTTE-controlled areas in the north, which may pose severe hazards.

Official travel by U.S. Government personnel to areas north of a line following the highway from Puttalam through Anuradhapura to Polonaruwa, Bibile, and Pottuvil in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka is restricted, and unofficial travel is prohibited.

The Department also alerts American citizens to the dangers posed by recent acts of terrorism throughout Sri Lanka. Although other parts of the country remain largely unaffected, the LTTE has conducted attacks outside of the northern and eastern areas.

Americans should comply with all instructions from security forces and police when traveling in Sri Lanka. American citizens, including those of Sri Lankan origin, living in Sri Lanka or traveling there for even a few days are strongly urged to register with the Embassy. Registration will allow the embassy to provide direct information on the security situation as necessary.

In last month the tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka dropped by 21 % after the LTTE attack in airbase at Anuradhapura.

Tourist arrivals during the month of September slipped 3.6 percent to 37,104 compared to the same period in 2006.

The drop for the first nine months to September was 21 percent to 350,779, Sri Lanka Tourism (SLT) said.

Inland tours account for about 10 percent of the hotel bookings, and tour operators are faced with many problems after a marked decrease in the arrival of tourists.

According to Central Bank data, earnings from tourism from January to September were 273.6 million dollars in 2007, down from 325.5 million dollars in the same period last year.

However most of small scale vendors in the historical sites said during the December season local tourists are expected to visit historical areas.

“We are waiting till they come, said D.M.Sujatha , a handcraft vendor who is located in Polonnaruwa historical site.
“Most of days we do not have sufficient business to pay our workers or maintain day to day activities,” said a guest house owner of the Polonnaruwa city.

“We do not need any concessions from the government, but need a stable peaceful situation in Sri Lanka , “said D.W.Piyathilaka , another hotel owner of the Polonnaruwa city.

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