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Sri Lanka Independence Day Supplement


<ul><li><p>SRI LANKA64TH INDEPENDENCE DAY SUPPLEMENT</p><p>Saturday, February 4, 2012 Rabiul Awwal 12, 1433 A.H. Page 11</p><p>We are on path of becoming economic hub of South AsiaWE, Sri Lankans, cele-brate the Sri Lankas 64th anniversary of Independence with realization of peace, social harmony and economic prosperity of the motherland.</p><p>Since, May 2009, Sri Lanka has significantly moved toward building a peaceful society with economic prosper-ity in the South Asian region. During the period, Sri Lanka was able to record a growth rate over 8 percent for two consecutive years in the histo-ry and is expected to sustain a further higher rate of growth in the coming years. The peace and political stability are being identified as core contributors for expansion of economic activities including inward movement of foreign direct invest-ment, increasing inbound tourists, booming of construction industry in infrastructure and hotels and leisure sectors in the country.</p><p>In the economic front, the Mahinda Chintana: The Vision for Future, which is the policy framework of the government, has envisaged transforma-tion of Sri Lanka into an economic hub of the South Asia focusing on avia-tion, commerce, maritime, energy and knowledge and also doubling the per capita income to $4,000 by 2016. In this context, the government has already initiated a number of infrastructure development programs along with vari-ous multifaceted social and economic development activities such as Gamaneguma, Divi Neguma, Maganeguma, Gamidiriya etc in the rural areas for the upliftment of standards of living of the people.</p><p>In keeping with the Mahinda Chintana: Vision for the Future, the Ministry of External Affairs with the assistance of Sri Lanka Missions abroad has been vigorously pursuing a Non-Aligned Foreign Policy aimed at pro-moting and nurturing friendship and cooperation with members of the international community including the United Nations and members of the international organizations. </p><p> (Continued on Page 14)</p><p>Saudi ties to grow further ANOTHER important milestone in Sri Lankas his-tory as a sovereign nation comes by today, Feb. 4, when its citizens both at home and overseas rejoice the 64th Independence Day of their mother-land. On this auspicious occasion I extend fraternal greetings to the Sri Lankan expatriate community in Saudi Arabia. The years after 2009 when Sri Lanka finally emerged victorious in its long battle against terrorism have been dedicated by the gov-ernment of His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa to nation building in all its aspects. This year will surely be no exception and in it Sri Lankan expatriates play a crucial role.</p><p>Given its fame as an island of legend-ary beauty, it is unsurprising that tourism constitutes one of the core areas of expo-nential growth in Sri Lanka-Saudi relations. </p><p> (Continued on Page 14)</p><p>Migrant community playing crucial role in countrys progress</p><p>TODAY, we are celebrating the 64th I n d e p e n d e n c e anniversary of our country with vigor and glory and I am proud to convey my warmest greetings to the Sri Lankan expatriate commu-nity living in the western region of Saudi Arabia. </p><p>Independence is enjoying freedom of life, speech and faith and being economically free. All countries gain independence for this purpose. We celebrate independence every year in order to remember our heroes who sacrificed their lives in the struggle to gain our freedom and to be reminded that we are enjoying the freedom obtained.</p><p> (Continued on Page 14)</p><p>Dr. A. Uthumalebbe</p><p>Ahmed A. Jawad</p><p>Prof. G. L. Peiris</p><p>Lets work with unityIT is with great expectations that we look forward to celebrate the 64th anniversary of Independence on Feb. 4, 2012.</p><p>May 19, 2009 marked the historic day that the country succeeded in eradicating LTTE terrorism that debilitated economic, social and cul-tural fabric of the country for 30 years. It was the far-sighted vision, guidance and leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa that contributed to the achievement of this historic feat. With the defeat of LTTE terrorism our Tamil brethren in the north and east as well as the general public of the rest of the country could heave a sigh of relief. They are now enjoying peaceful lives devoid of fear and anxiety.</p><p>The government had successfully completed reconstruction of govern-ment buildings, roadways, houses, places of religious worship and other infrastructure facilities in the North and the East that were destroyed or damaged during the war. Many a new infrastructure project that had been completed had changed the land-scape of the north and the east. The resettlement of displaced persons in their usual habitat had brought con-tentment to these long suffering peo-ple. A series of development projects that are in progress had resuscitated the economy of the North and the East that was badly battered by the 30-year war.</p><p>Side by side the development activ-ities in the north and the east the government had undertaken a num-</p><p>ber of mega projects that will usher in unprecedented economic develop-ment through out the country. Several prodigious projects such as Norochcholai Power Plant, Upper Kothmale Hydro Power Project and Hambantota Harbor, which the previ-ous governments never dared to undertake were started and success-fully completed by the Rajapaksa </p><p>government. Meaningful steps have been taken to promote tourism indus-try attracting foreign investments for construction of tourist hotels and resorts under a well drawn out tour-ism plan. Major part of the Southern Express Highway has already been completed and opened for the use of </p><p>the public. The construction work of Mattala Airport is in progress and foundations have been laid for the Colombo South Harbor and Colombo-Katunayake Express Highway. In this manner the development projects that had been launched already and those that are in the pipeline would bring accelerated economic develop-ment in the areas of agriculture, industry, fisheries, and tourism etc. It is a matter of pride and delight that the current economic growth rate of the country has exceeded 8 percent. The pragmatic economic policies of the government had led to a balanced economic growth both in the rural and the urban sectors in the country. With the rapid socio-economic devel-opment of the country that is being experienced at present we are opti-mistic that Sri Lanka will emerge before long, as the Wonder of Asia.</p><p>To sustain and consolidate the suc-cesses that the country has achieved in various sectors and to march toward continued progress, the cooperation, commitment, right attitudes and sacri-fice by the people of this country are essential. The unity among all ethnic groups in the country is vital toward achieving this laudable objective.</p><p>On this 64th anniversary of Independence of our country, we all must make a firm resolution and commitment to work with unity, peace and harmony to make this beautiful country a happy and a pros-perous nation.</p><p>D.M. JayaratnePrime Minister of Sri Lanka</p><p>Our nation aspires for a prosperous future</p><p>OUR nation is fortunate to celebrate the 64th Independence Day with a genuine sense of dignity about freedom.Today the national flag flutters pointing to a new country in the making. The way is open for an independent economy. It daily reinforces the nations aspiration for a prosperous future. It has given us freedom to decide upon issues concerning the country and the nation without bowing down before external powers. I strongly believe that is the immense responsibility the nation entrust-ed to us. It is a great pleasure to see the steady consolidation of supreme independence.</p><p>The countrys achievements would be secured when oppor-tunities for peace, co-existence as well as harmonious living are widened. Sacrifices made so far to reach that objective have to be secured in future too. We would no longer hesitate to take decisions toward fostering national unity through an indige-nous program of action. We overcame diverse challenges the country faced with extreme patience. We have built productive economic, political, defense, trade and cultural links with the international community through friendly contacts. We must preserve all this by working more rationally, intelligently and patriotically than even before.</p><p>Similarly the country should be brought forward developing its value systems. It is only then that a prosperous life would emerge in a peaceful environment.</p><p>The nations respect and felicitations should go to all patriots who paid the supreme sacrifice, laying down their lives to overcome the nations challenges for the sake of supreme independence.</p><p>I wish you all a bright future!Mahinda Rajapaksa</p><p>President of Sri Lanka</p></li><li><p>SRI LANKA SUPPLEMENTSaturday, February 4, 201212</p><p>Tourists make a splash at a prominent holiday destination. </p><p>KABEER REFFAI</p><p>A TOURIST whom I met recently commented that one morning he woke up, went to his balcony, closed his eyes and envisioned a g r e e n carpeted landscape of scenic mountains, dotted with unique patches of colorful flora capped off by smoky mist flakes sur-rounded by the pleasant sound of chirping birds and the feel of unpol-luted clean air, then he opened his eyes and realized that it wasnt a vision, he was staring down from his hotel room balcony in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lankas famed hill coun-try. </p><p>Speak to the thousands of tour-ists returning home from an excit-ing vacation in Sri Lanka and its proof that this effect is universal. Whether its watching the elephant gathering in August or seeing the colorful pageantry of the Kandy Perahara (procession) or watching whales in the eastern coast, Sri Lanka definitely leaves a positive impression on all those who visit. In fact in true testimony for that, the country records one of the highest numbers of repeat visitors. Since the end of the civil conflict in May 2009, Sri Lanka has recaptured and re-affirmed its position as one of the worlds foremost and safe tourist destinations which offer a diverse range of activities in a very short time period. With tourism being one of the countrys top revenue ave-nues, there is a keen viewpoint toward making the country a pre-ferred destination. </p><p>Statistics speak for themselves and illustrates how well this objec-tive has been achieved; with the percentage of overall tourist arriv-als up to 34.2 percent to 2011 against the previous year (source </p><p>Sri Lanka Tourism) in fact the island exceeded its targeted arrivals before the end of the year in 2011. </p><p>With the governments focused plan which aims to strengthen the tourism industry to increase the influx of tourists to Sri Lanka worldwide and also to support relat-ed industries which range from handicrafts, hospitality to tradition-al ayurvedic medicine; tourists now </p><p>find more activities and indulgenc-es than before and having a stron-ger appeal toward choosing Sri Lanka over other destinations. </p><p>The country is blessed with its beaches (rated amongst the top ten in the world), climatic conditions which vary from the chilly central to the warm north and south, cul-tural destinations from thousands of years ago and above all the </p><p>friendly, welcoming and warm nature of its people. Tourist arrivals are expected to exceed 1 million in 2012 (over 60,000 tourists visited the country within the first 16 days of January 2012) (source Sri Lanka Tourism). </p><p>With a strong infrastructure in place to promote the industry and a renewed drive toward investments in the tourism sphere has resulted in tourism reaching the top of the governments revenue generators. The industry employs 55,000 people directly, and another 90,000 indi-rectly with new opportunities mounting up tremendously. The sector is expected to create one mil-lion jobs by 2020 in food and chem-icals, laundry services, mainte-nance, making souvenirs, trans-port, beach vendors, Food &amp; Beverage, Construction, Handicrafts, Transport, IT and Gem &amp; Jewelry (source </p><p>The latest additions to the long list of activities that one can look forward to in Sri Lanka are Aero Adventure packages that include hot air ballooning, sky diving and parachuting. Highly qualified and experienced instructors with licensed trainers take you through a thrill filled journey.</p><p>Working toward a clear and con-cise goal, to have 2.5 million tour-ists by 2016, the government has invested heavily on tourism specific projects such as construction of 10 hotels in Pasikudah located in the eastern sector of the island. Filled with sandy beaches, scenic jungles and heritage sites, Pasikuda is the latest destination to be included in every tourists itinerary. </p><p>Even prominent existing hotels have begun a gamut of refurbish-ment work with the government aiding them, this coupled with a wave of high end corporates in Sri Lanka and abroad investing heavily on new hotel chains (Shangri La and Movenpick to name a few) has paved the way forward toward ensuring that accommodation never becomes an issue. An emerg-ing trend in new hotels is the con-cept of themed hotels and resorts of which a prime example are the star rated hotels located in the middle of the wilderness, a unique experience which blends the adventure of wild-life environment with star class luxury. </p><p>Another popular theme emerging are the range of boutique hotels located in tea plantations; scenic hotels and luxury bungalows in the middle of lush, green tea planta-tions are a soothing journey physi-cally and spiritually. To cater to specific large catchment of tourists, Sri Lanka Tourism has implement-ed a program to train tour guides in different languages which would mean ease of communications. With the view of promoting tourism in key markets the government has taken steps to represent Sri Lanka at trade fairs, conventions and confer-ences internationally delegated by experienced tourism professionals. </p><p>Further Changes are being made </p><p>in the agricultural, educational and ayurvedic sectors to suit the needs of the tourism industry and ensure that these industries are aligned toward tourism. </p><p>Related industries such as cul-tural dance troupes, souvenir man-ufacture, wild life and eco tours are experiencing a jolt with financial assistance and other support pro-grams being set up by the ministry and other government bodies. </p><p>A key government initiative toward preserving the green lung reputation held by Sri Lanka is conversation programs for coral reefs and forests, new regulations with regards to coral reefs and deforesting have been enforced with focus on ensuring environmental balance. </p><p>Though the country has its con-ventional tourists from Europe, a striking feature is the marked increase in the Asian sector with high number of Chinese, Indian, Maldivian tourists coming to Sri </p><p>Lanka in 2011. And within that a remarkable fact to note is that tour-ists from new destinations overall showed a phenomenal increase, Middle Eastern tourist arrivals have shown an unprecedented hike, with more than 37000 numbers 2011. Staggering number of arrivals was pr...</p></li></ul>