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Expanding tourism beyond coastal areas essential to enhance the economy – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed the need to expand the tourism industry beyond coastal areas to strengthen the country’s economy.

The President highlighted the significance of the South in driving tourism promotion within the country, particularly outlining plans to develop Galle into a major tourist city.

President Wickremesinghe made these remarks while handing over ‘Serene River Park’, the ecological park in Holuwagoda, Galle, to the public, on Wednesday (13).

Construction on this park, which commenced in 2021, has transformed a 14-acre fallow field into a vibrant recreational space.

Initiated by Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, the project plans were crafted by the Urban Development Authority (UDA), with construction executed by the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation.

The project, estimated at Rs. 440 million, encompasses various features such as a lake, walking paths, iron bridges, children’s park, market stalls, and ecosystems, with electricity sourced from solar lighting.

Furthermore, a programme aimed at marketing the agricultural crops and other products of the local community to visitors will also be launched as part of this initiative.

In the future, a boat service will be established from this park to Wakwella, Wataraka and Galle, with a primary focus on promoting tourism.

Additionally, this park will serve as a flood control measure to alleviate the long-standing flood issues faced by the residents of Holuwagoda and Opatha areas over many decades.

The President also bestowed tokens of appreciation upon individuals who made notable contributions to the successful construction of this environmental park.

President Wickremesinghe, also said:

“This project serves as a cornerstone for economic development. It is imperative that we prioritize initiatives like this. Galle has emerged as a prominent tourist hotspot today, and we must further enhance its development. By doing so, the residents of these areas stand to gain substantial income opportunities.

“As we advance in tourism development, it is imperative to prioritize environmental preservation. In line with this, I suggest introducing a dedicated act to safeguard the environment within this region. Without a thriving natural environment, the appeal of these areas would diminish significantly.

“Our focus must remain on tourism development, particularly in the Southern Province, which holds a special significance. We are committed to relocating government offices from Galle Fort to facilitate tourism promotion. Additionally, we are actively engaged in strategic city planning efforts to elevate Galle into a premier tourist destination. Through these endeavours, Galle is poised to emerge as the primary tourist hub of our nation.

“Tourism stands out as a sector capable of swiftly generating income for our nation. It is crucial that we strive to attract not only more tourists, but also those who are inclined to spend more during their visit.

“Just a couple of years ago, the notion of revitalizing our country’s collapsed economy seemed far-fetched. We faced shortages of fuel, fertilizer and medicine. However, today, we have overcome these challenges, witnessing resurgence in these essential supplies. As a result, our people are earning livelihoods once again.

“It is crucial to emphasize the cultivation of cinnamon. By cultivating tea in areas suitable for tea crops and cinnamon in other regions, we can secure substantial income.

“Moreover, we have devised plans to establish technical education institutions in these areas. We firmly believe that these initiatives will spur significant development in Galle.”

Health and Industries Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said:

“Previously, such therapeutic gardens were exclusively found in the capital. Today, the residents of Galle can relish the tranquillity of an ecological park. It is evident that during past economic crises, development stagnated. However, thanks to the economic initiatives led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the nation’s economy is experiencing stabilization once again.

“We have ensured the purification and daily release of 10,000 litres of water to meet the water consumption needs of the people of Galle. Additionally, efforts have been dedicated to reconstructing the city of Galle, which had remained untouched for 65 years. Notably, the construction of the region’s only co-health faculty is underway, alongside the completion of 80 percent of the court complex, slated to open next June.

“The construction of the Helmut Kohl Memorial Maternity Hospital in Galle, initiated in 2012, has reached completion, with its grand opening scheduled for the 27th, under the patronage of the President. Additionally, a significant allocation of Rs. 1,000 million is earmarked for the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital to establish a new kidney unit. This year, an allocation of Rs. 800 million has been dedicated to enhancing the heart unit and CT scan facilities.

A view of  Serene River Park.

A view of Serene River Park.

“Despite economic challenges, the public is reaping the rewards of development projects, thanks to the comprehensive programme spearheaded by the President.”

Agriculture and Plantation Industries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said:

“The late Minister Richard Pathirana did a great service to Galle city as well as to education. Minister Ramesh Pathirana is working with great commitment to continue that endeavour.

“In particular, President Ranil Wickremesinghe took over the country in the face of an economic crisis. At a time when people were dying in fuel queues, when farmers were protesting on the roads without fertilizer, he has taken the responsibility of building the country’s economy. Today he has given the required amount of fuel to the country, provided the required fertilizer to the farmers, and sent the farmers back to the farmlands.

“In 2022, Sri Lanka faced the necessity of rice imports. However, by 2023, we achieved self-sufficiency in rice production, enabling us to meet our domestic consumption needs.

“In line with the commitment to bolster cinnamon cultivation in Sri Lanka, the President has issued directives to establish a dedicated department for this purpose. Currently, preparations are underway for the setting up of this department.

“We hold the firm belief that the President will diligently address the economic crisis and foster a conducive environment for the well-being of the people.”

Southern Province Governor Willie Gamage, along with Members of Parliament Vajira Abeywardena and Sampath Athukorala, and other political representatives from the province were present.

 

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