Sri Lanka, an island of magical proportions, once known as Serendib, Taprobane, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean and Ceylon, is particularly green and beautiful; sandy beaches fringed with tall coconut palms surround the island and bright green tea terraces, paddy fields and misty mountains embrace the interior landscape. Temperatures vary delightfully between low to high twenties Celsius year-round.
After years of devastating civil war, Sri Lanka seems to be brimming with new hope, developing its god-given natural wealth.
Tourism Emerging Again
After the war ended in 2009, tourism is emerging with the year 2012 been the most eventful year yet for Sri Lanka. At the end of the 30-year civil war – an awakening of that initial potential has come alive in the island. With the upbeat mood in Sri Lanka over the past three years, many international hotel chains such as Shangri-La, Marriott, Mövenpick, Hyatt, Six Senses, Onyx, Centara and Anantara have made their entry to the island to capitalize on the demand growth Sri Lanka is presently experiencing.
2012 All-time Record Tourist Arrivals
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), indicate speedy advancement of the tourism industry with international tourist arrivals growing steadily since 2009, resulting in over one million annual visitors in 2012 , which is an all-time record for the country. In line with its newest tourism development strategy, SLTDA is aiming to achieve 2.5 million tourists by 2016.
Resort Development Locations
South coast from Galle to Tangalle, East Coast and North West coastal areas such as Kalpitiya are emerging as new tourist hotspots.
Where are current resorts located?
On the south coast, Aman Resort’s romantic retreat Amanwella is located near Tangalle while the luxury boutique hotel Amangalle is situated in the exclusive Galle Fort. Thailand based Onyx Hospitality Group is set to open a 148 keys resort just north of Galle in 2013. Marriott International has signed agreement with Weligama Hotels Properties LTD to open the first Marriott hotel in Sri Lanka; Weligama Bay Marriott Resort and Spa in 2014. Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels is developing a resort on 145 acres of land surrounded by an 18-hole golf course, coconut plantations and sand dunes along the shoreline in Hambantota; the resort will offer 375 rooms including 26 suites. Many international hotels brands are active and actively looking for hotel and resort development opportunities especially along the picturesque south coast.
South West Coast
The popular touristic areas on the southwest coast begins from Negombo, 13kms north of Colombo and curves south along the coastline for 273kms up to Hambantota. Negombo and the south coast from Mt Lavinia (suburb of Colombo) to Galle along Wadduwa, Kalutara, Beruwala, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, are definitely the better developed and accounts for most of the hotels and the resorts.
South coast from Galle to Hambantota along Unawatuna, Weligama, Matara, Dickewalla, Tangalle boasts sandy stretches of untouched beaches and definitely is the area to watch for new development opportunities.
East and North East Coast
The eastern and northern coast beaches stretches north in a gentle arc from Arugam Bay till Kuchchaveli approximately 275kms up on the eastern coastline. These are fine beaches, typically wide stretches of sand and what seems like miles of clear, shallow water, pretty bays and coves and deep natural harbours. The best ones are those of Nilaveli, Kuchchaveli, Marble Bay, Sweat Bay and Dead Man’s Cove, with its magnificent harbour, north of Trincomalee. Between Trincomalee and Hambantota is home to the peaceful beaches of Passekudah, Kalkudah and Arugam Bay.
Tourism in Sri Lanka focuses on eight product categories – beaches, sports and adventure, heritage sites, mind and body wellness, scenic beauty, wild life and nature, people and culture, and year-round festivals.
Heritage – Galle & Matara
Galle, the administrative capital of the southern province is a vibrant city with a nice coastal line and home to the Old Dutch Fort. Built by the Dutch beginning in 1663, the 36-hectare Fort occupies most of the promontory that forms the older part of Galle. The Galle Fort is an amazing collection of structures and culture dating back through the centuries. Just wandering the streets at random yields one architectural surprise after another. UNESCO has recognized Galle Fort as a World Heritage Site.
Further south of Galle, the coastal city of Matara, famous for two forts; the main Matara Fort and the Star Fort seem to have it all but it is yet to be discovered for hotel development. The main fort in Matara was initiated by the Portuguese around 1550, but the Dutch who captured it from them in 1640, were responsible for the construction of the actual fort. Only the magnificent rampart and gateway of this fort still remains. The better preserved of the two is the smaller Star Fort, built in a shape of a star is located on the north bank of the Nilwala River.
Beaches, Nature & Wildlife
160 km south of Colombo, at the Southern tip of the island, Matara is easily accessible via Southern express way which is due to be extended up to Matara in September 2013. There are several beautiful and less crowded beaches along the coast between Galle and Matara such as Unawatuna, Talpe, Weligama, Mirissa and Polhena and many attractions including Wherahena Temple, Dondra Lighthouse, Devinuwara (city of God), Blowhole, Kataragama, Galle Fort and Star Fort in close proximity and Matara provides gateway to UNESCO listed Sinharaja Rain Forest and Yala National Park. Oh, did I mention the whales? Another attraction is just 20 nautical miles out into the Indian Ocean, a major spot for watching Whales and Dolphins. There is a good chance of spotting Sperm Whales and great chances of spotting mammoth Blue Whales as their migration path is just off the southern tip of the island which is surprisingly close to the deep waters of the continental shelf. It is a unique situation; nowhere else do these whales come in so close to land, or are so reliably seen.
Sri Lanka, a country of many facets, offering a spectrum of experience, landscape of scenic beauty, exotic fauna and flora, rich cultural heritage, people, festivals and places that are awaiting to be discovered. It offers great prospects for hotel and resort development and truly is a great place to live and work.
Resort Development Location Map
- Red line: South West Coast
- Yellow line: South Coast
- Green line: East / North East Coast
- Red markers: Resort hotels
Photo: WHL Travel