Sri Lanka turns to heritage homes

Dec 17, 2010 (LBO) – The Sri Lankan government is encouraging owners of heritage homes to convert them into tourist accommodation as it gets ready to meet an influx of visitors after the end of a war, officials said. Sri Lanka received its 600,000th tourist this month and plans to attract at least 700,000 visitors next year. The government is considering linking investors with owners of old bungalows and houses to convert them into tourist accommodation under government standards, said Nilmin Nanayakkara, president of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators.

The government has said it needs to increase the island’s room stock to 40,000 to cope with the anticipated influx of tourists.

Tourist arrivals have risen sharply after the island’s 30-year ethnic war ended in 2009.

About 150 homes have been identified and the tourism authorities were getting ready to convert them into suitable accommodation for foreign visitors, Nanayakkara said.

Deputy minister of economic development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene said the government has set a target of getting 2.5 million tourists by 2016 and faces the challenge of accommodating them.

Owners of homes in areas with tourist attractions which r