The government has called for bids to lease out 10 more islands in Kalpitiya Tourist Zone.
two islands have already been leased out to foreign investors for a period of 30 years commencing August 2010 for Rs.18 million for the first five years, said the Deputy Minister of Economic Development Mr. Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena.
Under the first phase of the Kalpitiya Tourism Zone, six islands; - Ippantivu Island, Vellai Island I, Vellai Island II, Vellai Island III, Eramativu Island, and Kakativu Island - will be developed by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority .The islands that have been leased out by the government are Ippantivu and Vellai.
The Vellai Islands have been leased out for a sum of Rs.3.7 million for the first five years to Sun Resort Investment Lanka Private Limited, which is a joint venture between Sri Lanka, Maldives and Switzerland. The Ippantivu Island has been leased out for Rs.14 million to Qube Lanka Leisure Properties Private Limited, which is an Indian investment.
Only five of the Kalpitiya islands are inhabited while the rest are frequented only by the seasonal fishing community.
According to the Deputy Minister, the islands were leased out under the tourism development plan to increase the number of hotel rooms in the country to 50,000 from its existing 14,000 by 2016.
The Kalpitiya tourism development programme is expected to see the construction of 17 hotels with a total capacity of 5,000 rooms and 10,000 beds.