The Sri Lankan government plans to turn the country's war-torn northeastern region, which boasts of some of the island's most scenic beaches, into a tourist attraction as the decades-old conflict with the Tamil Tigers seems to be nearing its end.
"The battle between the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is nearing its end, paving way for long awaited peace and development in these areas. Against this backdrop, Sri Lanka Tourism is gearing up for a post conflict strategy focusing on development of the tourist potential in the northeast," said an official statement issued here.
"The development of the east is of specific focus for the government as the beaches there are some of the best in the island. Arugam Bay is famous as one of the best surfing destinations in the world," the statement said.
The tourism department is making plans for development of other locations such as Passikudah and Trincomalee, which have excellent beaches for recreation.
The strategies on the anvil include a marketing blitz for Sri Lanka Tourism, promoting the area as an 'off the beaten track' vacation, promotional activities with hotels and the national carrier Sri Lankan Airlines. The primary markets are the French, German and British tourists, the statement said.
Nearly 250,000 post cards will also be distributed among visitors while a discount booklet will be distributed with over 50 discount offers for a range of hotels and shopping malls.
The statement said that in 2005, the LTTE had over 16,000 sq km under its control.
But within two-and-a-half years of start of a military campaign in 2006, the government has managed to squeeze the rebels to 8 sq km area in the northeastern part of the country.
"As the conflict is drawing to an end in the north, there is a sense of relief among all citizens that peace, prosperity and development is close at hand."