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OTHER ITA SITES:
Sri Lanka's Tsunami Recovery
Sri Lanka, an island well known for its natural splendor and beauty, has proven itself a worthy tourist destination, as well as a key location for ecological diversity. Its natural treasures, however was greatly affected by the tsunami of December 2004, caused by a tremor in the Indian Ocean. In this disaster, the country suffered from a devastating loss of 30 thousand inhabitants. Though recovery is within reach, as the island experiences a recent improvement in economic status, the devastated areas of Sri Lanka need all the help they can get.
The town of Galle is among the areas hardest-hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami. Galle has been known to have a rich history, covering pre-colonial days, when the Dutch, British and Portuguese ruled the island. The renowned Dutch Fort, with its well preserved 90 acre area, can be found in Galle. This attraction, a walled city that boasts of Dutch cathedrals and remarkable structures, gained popularity since the United Nations acknowledged it as a historical asset in the late 1960s.
The importance of the tourist industry to Sri Lanka was proven shortly after the tsunami struck. In January of 2005, it was reported that what would have been the tourist season in full swing only saw beautiful waters and empty prime beach destinations. In those days, the people of the devastated tourist areas had no choice but to start over with what the waves of the tsunami left them.
Within the area of Galle lies Talpe, one of the country’s most important communities that were affected by the tsunami disaster. Before the tragedy, Talpe played a significant role in the country’s tourism industry, as its central beach strip is a popular surfing and swimming destination. It is also well-known for its great cultural diversity.
Before the Tsunami hit in December of 2004, about five kilometers from the town of Galle, Unawatuna Beach is popular for its protected coves that are ideal for swimming, as well as fine reefs best for diving. It is regarded as the island’s most scenic beach, as it is the least affected by commercialized tourist development. The beach is a lifeline to the area’s tourist economy, with its trails lined with small lodges and bistros.
The economy of Sri Lanka can be revived by revitalizing Talpe and the rest of Galle town as a prime tourist destination. Today, the communities are being rebuilt through the efforts of a number of generous organizations and foundations. New houses have been and are still being built for the survivors who have lost their homes to the sea. Yet, despite the generosity of philanthropist groups and relentless efforts of volunteers, the recovery could not be fast enough, as the citizens of Sri Lanka face threats to peace and prosperity, such as incessant rebellions and the recent oil pollution.
Perhaps the easiest way to recovery is to keep the tourists coming to Sri Lanka, as the natives themselves say. Sri Lanka offers an abundance of tourist attractions, such as the national parks, tea gardens, and heritage sights. Tourism will help provide jobs and additional income that will help the country on its way to recovery.
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Travel Part B