Sri Lanka travel trade warns tourism boom has risks

General Manager - Port Investment Services at HIPG, Justin Zhang with Sri Lanka's Ambassador to China, Dr. Palitha Kohona in Beijing

June 29, 2010 (LBO) – A sudden influx of tourists in to Sri Lanka after the end of its ethnic war could bring risks such as threats to the island’s environment and cultural values, a senior travel trade official has warned. The trade should also ensure that income from tourism benefits more people, Nilmin Nanayakkara, president of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators said.

The island’s 30-year ethnic conflict ended in May 2009 with the defeat of Tamil Tiger separatists resulting in an immediate revival in the number of visitors.

Hotels reported a full house in the last peak season which coincides with the northern hemisphere winter and many have started refurbishment and upgrades for the forthcoming season.

Having overcome the challenges (of conflict), I see different challenges drifting our way, Nanayakkara told the association’s annual general meeting.

My biggest fear is the negative impact of a rapid expansion that can destroy our landscape, vegetation and the rich heritage of the country.

How we would manage to protect the precious cultural values of all communities is a matter to be concerned of.

The tourism industry also has a responsibility to ens