The islands near Kalpitiya are the focus of a mega development project.
This will help Sri Lanka achieve the targeted 2.5 million tourist arrivals by 2016, say officials.
According to the Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority (SLTDA), 14 islands with a total land area of 1,672.67 hectares are being targeted for investment projects.
Nine of those islands are state lands and the other five are held by both private and state owners. The total state-owned land area amounts to 268.94 hectares, according to officials.
The potential of generating tourist revenues is very high in these areas, says the Industrial Services bureau (ISB).
Key points of interest for development are: Dutch Bay and Portugal Bay; bar reef marine sanctuary with around 307 sq km of sea area having most valuable rich bio-diversity value; sea turtles, fisheries, ornamental fish collection, lobster capturing, sea cucumber collection, dolphins, whales, mangroves, flora and fauna, historic monuments, birds and butterflies; natural botanical gardens, beaches, natural forest, estuaries and lagoons, sea grass beds.
According to SLTDA, proposed projects for the development would focus on fishing tourism, deep sea, diving, nature-based tourism, beach tourism, sport and adventure tourism, agro-tourism, culture tourism, village tourism and events tourism.
The islands and the proposed resort area would need state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities, say officials.
Special development projects in the zone include the following: domestic airport – Uchchamunai; under-water amusement park – Kandakkuliya; golf course - Dutch Bay; race course – Kalpitiya and cricket playground – Kalpitiya.
ISB director Neelakanth Wanninayaka said 17 new hotels and guest houses with 5.000 rooms would be built in the zone. These projects would create 15,000 direct and 22,500 indirect jobs, reducing the unemployment rate of the North Western Province which is currently at 7.8 percent.
The North Western province currently contributes 9.6 percent to the national GDP with a per capita income of Rs150,551.
The province has a high potential for investments and tourism attractions and it should maximize its contribution to national economic growth, Wanninayaka said.
The ISB of the North Western Province will assist all potential investors to launch development projects, he added.
Tourism is likely to bring higher revenues to post-war Sri Lanka and a study by the Asia Foundation has highlighted a tremendous potential for investment projects within the zone. In addition to new projects, existing facilities are to be upgraded to realize their full potential.
According to the Asia Foundation study, potential investment areas for the North Western Province include leisure tourism and water sports at Bathalegoda Lake, a 100-room star class hotel at Kurunegala lake round, reconstruction of Rajapihilla Rest House, adventure tourism at Ibbagala Circuit Bungalow for local tourists at Lake round, Ayurvedic village and circuit bungalow at Dolukanda cable car project connecting Ethagala and Kurunegala, said North Western Province Chief Minister Athula Wijesinghe.