One Sri Lanka’s most historic and scenic northern regions is being developed to make the beach areas more visitor friendly and show off its many potential attractions.

Tourism and development minister John Amaratunga is driving the move to put Mannar more firmly on the tourist map, and has earmarked a quarter of a million dollars to launch the project.

Main attractions include the famed Madhu Church Shrine, Wilpattu National Park and a host of other sites which have been identified as having “considerable tourism potential”.

These include the Thanthirimale temple, Thiruketheeswaram Kovil, the famous 700-year-old Baobab Tree, Doric House, built as the official residence of British governor and described as the ‘most beautiful house in Ceylon’, and Yoda Wewa, or Giants Tank, built by King Dathusena in the 5th century.

Lanka Business Online (LBO) reports Minister Amaratunga as saying that plans have already been drawn by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority to develop homestay villages around the tank in order to offer an authentic experience to tourists visiting the district.

Eco-tourism

“A beachfront area of around 300 acres will be identified as a resort area for accommodation purposes. This area will be developed on a fast-track basis with all facilities for tourists while priority will be given for eco-tourism projects.”

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reports: “Mannar is a hidden gem in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. Last month the Photographic Society of Sri Lanka (PSSL) launched the ‘Discover Mannar’ Photography Exhibition at the Stables, Park Street Mews, Colombo.

“The exhibition was part of IFC’s [International Finance Corporation]   work in promoting Mannar as a sustainable and responsible tourist destination, under the European Union Support to District Development Program (EU-SDDP) programme.

“Aimed at portraying the beauty of Mannar, through a lens, ‘Discover Mannar’ did much more than that. The pictures displayed by both amateur and professional photographers went a step further, managing to capture the very soul and splendor of Mannar.”

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