Sri Lanka, which is known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, has drawn worldwide attention due to its geographical location in the Indian Ocean, says Times of Oman.
The newspaper reported that Sri Lanka had been a popular international trade centre for many centuries and traders from numerous countries travelled to Sri Lanka for trading in tusks, gems, jewellery, pearls, cinnamon, apparel etc.
Many centuries following that prosperous era, this glamorous trade centre had faded into oblivion due to many reasons, including foreign invasions.
If we leave out the dark periods that followed, for the brevity of the article, we can focus on the current economic development of the country which the international community has commended on many occasions, the Times of Oman said.
The government has initiated numerous large and medium scale projects to catch up the economic setback that Sri Lanka has suffered in the last three decades, said Asoka Girihagama, Sri Lankan ambassador to Oman adding that, the government is optimistic about economic growth when these projects are operational and start to pay dividends.
“In the year 2011, we were able to record 8.3 per cent economic growth and look forward to continue the same growth rate or higher for this year. Many development projects are underway in the northern and eastern region, mainly after eradicating terrorism. However, more foreign investments are needed in the sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, road development and the hospitality industry,” he said.
Tourism sector is now booming after achieving peace in 2009. We were able to record 800,000 tourist arrivals for the year 2011 and expect 100,000 for this year. It is our fervent expectation to achieve 2.5 million tourist arrivals by year 2016. Although this expectation seems to be high, it is a realistic and achievable target.
It is essential to augment accommodation facilities throughout the country, the Ambassador said.
At present, we have around 14, 000-hotel rooms and expect to increase it to 40,000 in the coming years. Sri Lanka has become a promising land for investors. The Shangri la hotel’s entry in to the country confirms the investor’s confidence in the flourishing business environment of the country, he added.
We would like to see more and more tourists visiting from the Middle East region (particularly Oman) to Sri Lanka to enjoy the environmental and cultural diversity in this paradise island. Facilities, including prayer rooms, halal food etc, are common facilities in our hotel sector, the Ambassador further said.
Sri Lankans are famous for hospitality and smiling faces, which would add more value to the booming industry.