Govt. mulls resumption of ferry service between SL and India


Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga, yesterday, said the government was exploring the possibility of resuming the ferry service between Rameshwaram and Thalaimannar. 

 Addressing the World Tourism Day official celebration at the University of Jaffna, the Minister said the government was keen to proceed with the plan as it would benefit the Northern Province.

Amaratunga said the Palali Airport, which operated as a military airport for a long time, had been opened up for civilian transport. 

 The domestic airport, he said, would attract more tourists to Jaffna as they would be able to fly to Palali from the BIA at Katunayake. 

 The Tourism Minister also said that the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) would soon open up a sub office in Jaffna to expedite the industry’s growth in the province.  

Amaratunga also requested the Tamil resident overseas to return to the country and invest in the tourism industry in the North.

 "Whenever I meet members of the Tamil Diaspora when I go overseas, I request them to come back. That way, they will help themselves and their community. That is tourism offers a great opportunity to the Northern province."

 Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Vigneswaran, in his address at the same event, urged the tourism authorities of the government to tap the full tourism potential of the North by resolving ‘bottlenecks’ in fund allocation, industry expertise and planning. 

 The Chief Minister said his province had many tourist attractions that could be developed into provincial tourism hubs through right strategies and fund allocation.

 "We need more tourism experts in our province to realise its full potential", the Chief Minister said, adding that he had presented several comprehensive plans to the government on tourism development in the North. 

 Wigneswaran, highlighting the importance of tourism industry for better revenue generation, said the scenic islands in Jaffna and other beaches in the province could be developed into major tourist attractions, similar to those in the Eastern province. 

 He said that though a strip between Palaithivu and Pallikuda had been earmarked for a ferry service that would benefit the tourism industry, the process had come to a halt due to Navy presence in the area. 

 The Chief Minister attributed the industry’s slow growth due to external factors such as anomalies in fund allocation and the absence of inclusive planning. 

 "We have no reservations about working with the government or tourism bodies of the central government as long as our regional rights are not violated," Wigneswaran said. 

 Speaking at the World Tourism Day event, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Kavan Ratnayaka promised to fast track measures to develop tourism in the province, in a holistic and sustainable manner. 

 "Tourism, I am sure, will be the number 01 or 02 sector in Jaffna.  But the industry in the province should grow in a manner that preserves the authenticity of the tourism experience it offers. You, in Jaffna, should remain who you are. At the same time, the growth of the industry should be sustainable," he added.

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