The Ministry of Tourism Development has identified Mannar District for major tourism infrastructure development projects. Already over Rs. 40 million has been spent on making the beach areas tourist friendly and many other projects are being planned in order to make the district the main hub for tourism in the region.
During a discussion between Minister of Tourism Development John Amaratunga and Minister of Commerce and Industry and Member of Parliament for Mannar District, Rishad Bathiudeen at the Tourism Ministry yesterday, it was decided to position Mannar as the main hub for visiting key attractions in the region.
The identified main attractions include the famed Madhu Church Shrine, Wilpattu National Park and a host of other sites which have been identified as having considerable tourism potential.
These include the Thanthirimale historic temple, ancient Thiruketheeswaram Kovil, where it is believed rituals have been performed without a break for the past 2000 years, the Dutch period lighthouse, historic pier and fishing harbour, the Portuguese/Dutch Fort, and Adams Bridge which is a constellation of small islands stretched out over a 50 km sand strip connecting mainland India that spawned the famous legends of Hanuman, Rama and Ravana.
Among the other attractions in the district are the famous 700 year old Baobab Tree which is also called ‘elephant tree’ for the sheer size of its girth, Doric House at Arippu which at the time it was built as the official residence of British Governor Frederick North in the 1800s was described as the ‘most beautiful house in Ceylon’, and Yoda Wewa or Giants Tank built by King Dathusena in the 5th century which interestingly is the main point for the seasonal Siberian bird migration.
Minister Amaratunga said that plans have already been drawn by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority to develop homestay villages around the tank in order to offer an authentic experience to tourists visiting the district.
Meanwhile a beachfront area of around 300 acres will be identified as a resort area for accommodation purposes. This area will be developed on a fast track basis with all facilities for tourists while priority will be given for eco-tourism projects.
Meanwhile based on a request by Minister Bathiudeen, it was decided to set-up a hotel school for the youth of the district to learn basic hospitality skills. Minister Amaratunga instructed officials of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management to set up a satellite school in the Mannar town area offering basic training for entry level positions in the hotel trade.