There’s cautious optimism that there will be lasting peace in Sri Lanka after 26 years of civil war.
The government recently announced an end to the fighting after its troops took the last piece of land held by Tamil Tiger rebels, and said it had killed the top rebel leader.
There is much to be done before the island can return to normal – the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has been there to discuss the plight of about 275,000 displaced people.
While it’s still too early to predict the future course of events, the prospect has opened up of tourists returning to the pristine sandy beaches of the north and east of the country.
“This is a good step forward, but we have to be cautious, there is still a lot of work to be done to bring about a true peace,” said Jean-Marc Flambert, who promotes a number of hotels in Sri Lanka.
Throughout the years of conflict, places like Trincomalee – described by Admiral Nelson as the finest harbour in the world – and Arugam Bay have been off-limits to all but domestic visitors and intrepid backpackers. They lack the hotels and infrastructure of the more developed south and west.
“There is a great potential to develop tourism on that side of the island,” said Mr Flambert. “Obviously people are going to remain cautious for a while but many have been waiting for this day.”
by Andy Moreton
Luxique has a fine selection of places to stay in the south of Sri Lanka – from the ocean-side Saman Villas in Bentota to the peace and tranquility of the traditional eco-village of Ulpotha Sanctuary.