Sri Lanka in bid to lure cruise ship calls

Mar 26, 2010 (LBO) – Once a lucrative foreign exchange provider to Sri Lanka, cruise tourism is seen as bringing back more well-heeled tourists to the island, just as it did before the ethnic war.

Sri Lanka is expecting an estimated 21,000 cruise passengers this year with 30 liners having confirm calls, travel trade officials said.

But port facilities need to be upgraded along with transport to take visitors on inland tours.

Colombo port on the western coast and Galle port in the south are the only ports with passenger terminals where cruise ships can dock.

But Galle, for long a favourite port of call for yachts and cruise ships, is too small for the bigger cruise liners to navigate to the berth.

“When a large vessel comes by, they have to dock mid-stream and transfer passengers to the jetty on ‘tender boats’,” said Tony Mantara, Chairman of the travel trade Advisory Panel for Cruise Tourism

“We need state-of-the-art passenger terminals,” Mantara told LBO in an interview, adding that a brand new port built in southern Hambantota should also have a cruise ship terminal to draw visitors to tourist sites in the region.

Not enough well-informed, English-speaking guides ar