Sunday, 14 April 2002  
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Tourist police posts to boost tourism


A large number of foreign tourists are expected in the country during the winter season following the signing of a peace treaty between the Government and the LTTE and, to make Sri Lanka a safe destination in South East Asia, tourists police posts are being set up in vital parts of the country under a scheme initiated by Tourism Minister Gamini Lokuge.

Already seven such police posts have been set up in Colombo Fort, Kandy, Moragalla-Beruwela, Hikkaduwa, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Bentota where foreigners in large numbers visit these places due to its historical significance and tourist attractions.

The Sri Lanka Tourist Board in collaboration with the Police Department will set up two more tourist police posts at Nuwara -Eliya and Anuradhapura for the welfare of foreign tourists visiting these places to make complaints and seek advice regarding problems they encounter, a spokesman for the Tourist Board told the "Sunday Observer".

The tourist police post at Anuradhapura will be housed at the Dharmasiri Senanayake Memorial Information Centre which would also serve as an information centre.

The Colombo Fort, Moragalle-Bentota and the Hikkaduwa police stations opened during the 1970s did not effectively function during the last two decades as policemen attached to them were withdrawn for national duty in the north and east. However, these police stations have been revived once again with additional strength for their smooth functioning. A location has been earmarked for a police post at Galle as well.

A spokesman for the Tourist Board said that police officers will be trained to converse in foreign languages to enable them to record complaints by tourists in their own languages. The foreign language courses will be conducted to policemen at the Ceylon Hotels School, an arm of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board.

Asked whether the Tourist Board would provide these police posts with vehicles as in the past, the spokesman said that due to financial constraints, the Tourist Board was unable to do so at the moment.

When the tourist police posts were initially set up at Mount Lavinia and Bentota in the late 1960s, they were provided with vehicles maintained by the Ceylon Tourist Board.

Colombo Fort Tourist Police, Chief Inspector E.G.R. Balthazaar, said that he had received several complaints from tourists at five star hotels in Colombo that they had been duped by certain touts.

There was a complaint from a foreign woman tourist that she was raped while visiting Polonaruwa recently. The accused were arrested at Polonnaruwa and later prosecuted.

He said that DIG Colombo, Bodhi Liyage, was instrumental in providing a room at the Fort police station to house the tourist police post which was opened last week by the Tourism Minister Gamini Lokuge.

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