Upgrading tourism in the South | Sunday Observer

Upgrading tourism in the South

28 May, 2023
Galle Fort
Galle Fort

Today, Governors have been entrusted with the task of reviving the tourism industry in the South since there is no public representation in the Provincial Council (PC) at present. The Governors and officials are working together to meet public needs despite many challenges.

However, Southern Province (SP) Governor Dr. Willie Gamage believes that public representation is essential for PCs. He believes that if the PC system is to be continued, it should be not under Governors and officials but under public representation.

Soon it will be three years and six months since Dr. Gamage was appointed Southern Province Governor. During this period the Governor and officials under him succeeded in bringing the province to the top in the areas of education, health, agriculture, industry, sports, tourism, and transport.

In 2021, the total allocation for the Southern PC was Rs.40, 614 million. So far Rs. 39,120 million has been spent. The Galle District’s population is 1,148,000. About 887,000 people live in the Matara District, and 676,000 in the Hambantota District. About 52 percent are men and 47.02 percent are women.

The SP has a special place in tourism. It is the destination of the vast majority of tourists visiting Sri Lanka and a paradise for both local and foreign tourists who are attracted by the 125 kilometer-long Southern coast from Bentota to Hambantota.

In addition to the coast, areas inland such as Deniyaya, Lankagama, Madunagala, Neluwa, Kanneliya, Pasgoda, Koggala Lagoon and Yala are favourite tourist spots.

In the light of this, the Ruhunu Tourism Bureau (RTB) and the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) have launched various programs in the Province under Dr. Willie Gamage’s guidance. Top priority has been given to infrastructure.

Hotel rooms

The number of hotel rooms in the province is 2,160. A large number of people are directly and indirectly engaged in the tourism industry. The increasing number of tourists has brought many financial benefits to the locals. Among these many visitors are Russians. The Russian Ambassador in Sri Lanka and Maldives, Levan S. Dzhagaryan and Governor Gamage have held discussions on promoting tourism in the South, especially to make Galle and Unawatuna a centre for Russian tourists.

These discussions included ways and means of dealing with the harassment of Russian tourists and the problems of Unawatuna tourist hotel owners.

Mirissa on the Southern Coast is one of the best areas for sighting the largest marine mammal, the whale and Udawalawe the largest land mammal, the elephant.

During the Sinhala and Tamil New Year season, celebrations were organised in the Southern Province for foreign tourists. A large number of foreigners gathered for the New Year’s colourful celebration organised at Unawatuna beach. It was a fresh experience for foreign tourists.

The events included serving many traditional food items and sweetmeats to the visitors, demonstrations of local food preparation, choosing the New Year Prince and Princess, traditional dancing and a sand castle building competition for the children of tourists. These were organised jointly by the Tourism Ministry and the Tourism Promotion Authority.


Plans are afoot to build the first art gallery under the Ruhuna sea. Four statues would be placed under the sea and also a depiction of the Battle of Mulleriyawa where King Sitawaka Rajasinghe decimated the Portuguese army in the 16th Century. The investment for this project is expected to be Rs. 100 million.

RTB Chairman Channa Saliya Mendis said:

“We are working to develop Sathmahal Falls and introduce new tourist destinations that can attract tourists. We have launched programs for tourists to extend their stay in this country.

These include water sports like surfing, performances by the State Dance Troupe and promote the coconut and kithul toddy industry in the South to attract foreigners.

In order to make Galle the best tourist destination we hope to activate a development plan to merge Roomassala and Unawatuna.”

According to Dr. Gamage during the Covid-19 pandemic the Provincial Council succeeded in improving hospitals in Walasmulla, Tangalle, Tissamaharama, Udugama and Akuressa.

This had helped to reduce the congestion in the Karapitiya Hospital. “We achieved successes in education, public transport, and the fisheries industry among others.”

He refuted allegations that the SPC was spending vast amounts on its members and said that the actual amount was only 1.2 percent of the council’s income.