Officials to tackle congestion at Yala


By Mario Andree

A senior official attached to the Ministry of Economic Development says domestic travellers may be diverted from Yala to other national parks in a bid to contain overcrowding and heavy congestion of vehicles in the park.

The government has allocated 70 acres in the Yala National Park to develop 10 resorts to support the increasing number of tourists visiting the bio-diversity hotspot. Already four plots of seven acres each have found takers and according to a senior official six more remain.

The number of tourist arrivals is expected to reach one million this year despite a considerable slow down in the growth rate to 16 percent after achieving 46 percent and 30.8 percent growth in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

According to Ministry of Economic Development’s Director Tourism A. B. M Ashroff, the government had allocated 10 plots of 7 acres each for tourism related infrastructure development in the Yala National Park which is renowned for its bio diversity.

Ashroff, speaking at a forum ‘Towards Sustainable Tourism: The Responsible Approach’ organised by the European Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka, also highlighted several other development plans the country had for tourism, however what he said raised questions as to whether or not local citizens would be able to visit Yala in future.

When asked what the government was planning to do about the overcrowding in Yala, Ashroff said that the park was not congested by foreigners but by domestic travellers and in future locals would be diverted to other parks.

Several months ago, Deputy Economic Development Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that the government was not only promoting foreign tourists but domestic travellers as well.

He said that in several government identified tourism zones in the country such as Kuchchiveli, Passekudha, Arugambay, Yala, Hikkaduwa and many other locations, infrastructure to support domestic travellers had been identified.

The government has allocated a considerable funds to develop changing rooms, shower areas, wash rooms, in some of the leading areas while promoting budget resorts to develop capacity to support domestic travellers.

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