Research Intelligence Unit (RIU) Market brief: Close-up on Kalpitiya
Located in the Puttalam District on the North West coast of Sri Lanka, Kalpitiya is one of the blooming areas in terms of tourism in Sri Lanka. Having a nice breezy tropical climate has attracted both marine life and tourists from the world over. The sandy and flat coastal lands, and thick mangrove swamps and marshes attract many western tourists who tend to spend their summer and winter vacations in Kalpitiya.
The growing tourist population who arrives in Kalpitiya mostly consists of Western European travellers from countries such as Germany, England, France, Italy and Austria. Tourists usually arrive in Kalpitiya to engage in water sports which are offered in the area regardless of their differing budget limitations.The most popular water sports in the area are Kitesurfing, Wind surfing, Sailing, Para-sailing, Dolphin watching, Dugong watching, Whale watching, Island hopping, Snorkelling, Diving (largest bar reef in south Asia – 420 ha), Fishing, Wilpattu by boat (wildlife safari), Beach activities (trail bikes and scooters), and Lagoon water sports. Kalpitiya is also home to the Bar Reef, considered one of the best reefs in the whole of Asia which is an hour ride in boat from Kalpitiya. While being one of the hottest kite surfing destinations during most part of the year, it is also best suited as a place for swimming and snorkelling during the period between late November and early May each year.
In 2003, it was found that the waters surrounding Sri Lanka have the highest population of sperm whales. Research on Sperm whales resumed in Kalpitiya after the Civil War, as it was restricted due to security reasons. However it has not only been a paradise for sperm whales, but also Dolphins, Blue Whales and many other large species. Alankuda Beach in Kalpitiya is the best known for whale watching starting points. The periods between November to December, and March to April are the best period to admire the beauty of whales’ movements. During the off season it is highly difficult to enter the rough seas due to the monsoonal effects. The extremely rare and endangered humpback dolphin or pink dolphin is also found in lagoon. Another attraction is the boat ride safari which goes to the Wilpattu safari park in the mornings. Varying fees of between USD 200 to 300 are charged for a boat ride consisting up to six people. Popular sightings are Elephants, Deers, Eagles, Crocodiles, Wild Foul, and Leopards.
The tourists range from budget backpackers to mid ranged travellers. Backpackers usually expect to spend their nights for around USD 30 and Kalpitiya has a generous offering of such accommodation. The more discerning travellers spend around USD 120 per night for more luxurious accommodation.
Kalpitiya comprises of the fourteen islands of Battalangunduwa, Palliyawatta, Vellai I, Vellai II, Vellai III, Uchchamunai, Ippantivu, Periya Arichchalai, Sinna Arichchalai, Eramutivu, Sinna Eramutivu, Eramutivu West, Kakativu and Mutwal (Dutch Bay) which together make up 1673 hectares.
With varying land values investors have been keen on analysing and choosing the best suited place for their investment. According to RIU’s research report on Kalpitiya, the following details on land prices have been identified;
The RIU report predicts an upward shift in the tourism market in Kalpitiya, as more operators and investors enter by targeting the mid ranged markets. For example, Malu-malu is an upper-mid range brand, already with an operational hotel on the East cost of Sri Lanka and has a large hotel under construction in Kalpitiya. With another thirteen islands being open for international investment, it can be said that Kalpitiya can expect potential growth in investment flow, and consequently growth in tourism.
However, the report warns of potential damage to the very sensitive physical and natural environment in Kalpitiya that is delicately balanced between the inland areas, lagoons, sand banks, islands and the vast Indian Ocean.This unique blend of environmental characteristics combine in harmony to make this a unique and rivalled location that will draw thousands of travelers for many years to come. However, the authorities must ensure that environmental guidelines are enforced and adhered to in order to protect this rich and valuable part of the island.