2018 Jul 4
Wandering travelers are often drawn to the lush forests, picturesque landscapes and coveted heritage sites Sri Lanka takes pride in. The beach holidays, however, along the coastal regions are by far one of the island’s most winsome offers, allowing tourists the chance to try windsurfing, yachting, scuba diving, snorkeling etc. amongst our most pristine, sandy beaches.
Needless to say, in Sri Lanka tourism is an ever-growing field that is not taken lightly- specifically since this is an industry with considerable, if not leading, impact on our economy. According to SLTDA (Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority), during the late 90s, Tourist Arrivals were recorded to be 46,247. This seems like a hefty number in its own right but as of the year 2017, Sri Lanka boasts of an approximate 2,116,407 Tourist Arrivals! Lanka has steadily gained prominence and has since earned its spot as being one the most exotic and diverse holiday destinations in the world.
This leads us to a more recent achievement contributing to Sri Lanka’s reputation, stemming from a contest managed by the People’s Daily Newspaper of China. People’s Daily itself boasts of being China’s second largest newspaper producer in business and a widely read source with regards to politics. The contest was carried out under careful evaluation of expert reviews and ratings and Sri Lanka surpassed 19 other countries (including USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Maldives) to emerge as the ‘top global safety destination for women travelers in 2018’.
People’s Daily, together with Capital Normal University, organized the 2018 Women’s Safe Travel Experience Summit where a ceremony was arranged for the representatives (from respective embassies of the winning countries) to receive their awards. Ambassador – Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku represented Sri Lanka and delivered a touching acceptance speech, primarily thanking People’s Daily for their recognition of Sri Lanka’s dedication to tourist safety.
“Sri Lankan people are hospitable, friendly and ever ready to provide a helping hand to travelers who need assistance….tourist places are well organized, with dedicated staff to guide and help tourists enjoy their visits, and highlighted the presence of a tourist police division dedicated to addressing and processing complaints in a speedy manner and who regularly liaise with the travel industry to improve safety measures for tourists.”
Ambassador Kodituwakku concluded his speech at the Summit to include the unparalleled experiences tourists will get to enjoy should they decide to pick Lanka, ranging from the stunning beaches to the reserves, the historic ruins that mark our heritage, other ancient archaeological marvels, natural attractions and of course, let’s not forget our famous tea.
However, there does appear to be contradictory evidence with regards to Ambassador Kodituwakku’s initial words. To name just a few, Sri Lanka has intermediate rankings in that of assault rate (42nd/93 countries) and rape rate (34th/80 countries). Furthermore, 2036 rape cases in 2016 were reported without a single rapist convicted. Documented cases of violence against foreigners certainly do exist but how exactly do other oblivious tourists react to such unwelcome news?
There were those who concluded that violence was inescapable – essentially it was believed that what can be/is being applied to Sri Lanka, can also be applied to other countries. Short of never venturing out of their homeland, there was only one golden rule for travelers to stick to – never travel alone. Safety remains in numbers.
There were also those who found their experiences here much more pleasant in comparison to other countries! While certainly not without its faults, Sri Lanka does remain both our tropical island and a holidaying paradise. Achievements such as being the top global safety destination should only serve to raise the bar in all future endeavors.