There is no reason why Sri Lanka should put all its cards on tourism, as the number one money maker. It should be kept in mind that tourism while it brings financial benefits , it also brings innumerable social problems. Sri Lanka as a developing country which made much head way in the economic growth should consider for whose benefit the country is being developed. It is the people of Sri Lanka that should first benefit by the country's development.
Secondly, the promoters of tourism should not be allowed to do so haphazardly, it should be planned at the highest level and Parliamentary approval should be obtained. That is to avoid the infiltration of disadvantages, vice in all its different forms, and loss of moral values that could affect the country, socially and culturally. Each time a new project is commenced for tourist attraction, one has to consider how much it would be beneficial to the country, what effect will it have on the people , to what extent it will cause damage to the environment, to the culture and the social fabric of the country, and whether such a project is really necessary.
There is a sudden interest in night motor racing first in Colombo and they are proposing to bring it to Kandy. How many people are going to benefit from this night racing project. Is it really necessary for the wellbeing of the people. Is it a financially viable project that would bring in more money to the country. What other benefits will it have ? Should the village youth be made to take an interest in night racing, and for what reason and for what benefit ? Have the organisers considered the atmospheric pollution, it would cause ? This is a sport of the rich. Is it really unnecessary to promote it in Sri Lanka ? It would be in the interest of Sri Lanka to stop motor car racing whether in the day time or in the night.
If it is a project promoted by Nimal Rajapakse, it could be understood as he is a modern, fashionable young man rich enough to have his own racing car. But he is not doing so with foresight. If that is the case, the President should intervene to stop it as it is a game of the rich and will not benefit the country nor will it bring more money from a few rich western racing car pilots who will participate to make it another play ground for the big names of sport of car racing.
Another project that is being talked about is opening of Casinos . There was one casino long time back in Kandy in Sri Lanka. It caused immense problems as people got addicted to games and spent all their earnings in it. Many got into debt. It will be like the liquor shops that have been opened in almost every small town. The poor people get ruined, families break up the poor take to prostitution. Is that what Sri Lanka wants ? It is the middle and the lower middle class people who may get interested in Casinos and ruin themselves catching the virus of the Casino games.
There was also a suggestion by a Member of the Parliament to open brothels. There are also such houses already going on unchecked under different business names . The leaders should take into account falling of moral standards, crime against women, child rape, and molestation of tourists.
Back in Sri Lanka I was told how in a private textile weaving centres, the owner uses the working girls for prostitution. There was a time when special sex tourisms were organised by some tour operators in some Western countries, where the rich retired old men were taken to Philippines for sex with minors. Tourism should not therefore be hailed as the ideal money maker.
Eagle Golf link is the fourth golf link functioning in Sri Lanka. Is that a necessity ? How many Sri Lankans gain from having golf links. It also caters to the rich and well to do western tourist. How many tourists come to play golf in Sri Lanka, and how many in SrI Lanka take to playing golf. There appears to be a mix up of priorities. Every such project has money as the objective , without considering advantages and disadvantages that come along with such ventures.
It is the same with developing beach resorts for sea surfing. It should be made a normal tourist attraction without making it a special attraction for competition surfing. Some Sri Lanka beaches are ideal for Surfing, but one should not promote them for international competition standard.
The Sri Lanka’s ancient tanks were built by our kings to provide farmers water for their farming lands. Therefore no ancient tank should be turned into a tourist attraction for boat riding and surfing.
Hotels are coming up like mushrooms and all hotel rooms are not occupied. The room rates are too high for local tourists. The West is having an economic crisis and the western tourists tend to spend less. Therefore, it is wise to slow down on development of the tourist Sector.
There are other important things that have still not been attended to such as settling down the Sinhala IDPs in Jaffna, which has been long delayed. The Government should also start Sinhala settlements in the north and east before it is too late.
Tourism is not well planned each one seems to have one’s own idea of tourism. What do the tourist coming from abroad want ? Do they want a home away from home ? Of course they would like to enjoy the beauty of nature. See how the people live and relax in a sunny beach. But meal wise do they want the same wines they drink at home ? Do they want hard liquor Whisky, Brandy, Martini, Gin etc., they find back home ? They could easily be substituted by Sri Lanka beer, and Arrack.
Why cannot Sri Lanka offer the tourist a real Sri Lankan holiday, without liquor simple Sri Lanka meals, preferably vegetarian, and fish (less beef and chicken), accompanied with tea ? Serve coconut juice and other fruit juices instead of expensive wines.
What is important is the comfort in rooms secure un-interfered relaxation in the hotel premises. They should be provided security when travelling. The Tourist Department should think out ways of providing tourists with different facilities than those they have in the countries from where they come, but substitute those with exotic Sri Lankan facilities. Make the tourists feel that they are living their holiday in Sri Lanka which is different in every respect from where they have come.
There had been reports of many attacks on tourists lately. The tourist board should train special security officers for the safety of the tourists. Many brawls that end up seriously are the results of consumption of excessive liquor by the locals, who are allowed in to hotels. Tourists have their limits and know how to consume liquor. It is the locals who have to be controlled