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Sunday, 9 May 2010

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Wilpattu Park, a big draw

The number of local and foreign tourists visiting the Wilpattu National Park has been on the rise since its reopening on February 27.


A tour group ready to proceed

Weerasinghe Dissanayake is the Manager of the Wilpattu National Park. According to K.B. Dasanayake a wildlife conservation officer since February, 2,500 tourists have arrived at Wilpattu and the income during the short period exceeds Rs. 750,000. He said that the staff consisted of 20 including 10 wildlife guides.

The visitors at Wilpattu told the Sunday Observer that the promotion on visitors spending the nightout in the park should be removed and the departmental circuit bungalows which were in a dilapidated condition be renovated to accommodate the tourists.

The park is open from 6.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.

Some of the tourists emphasised that the sites of highly significant historic and archaeological value such as “Kuweni’s Palace at Kalivillu and the place where Prince Wijaya came ashore located in Kudhiramale area which are at a distance of 40 and 53 kilometres from Wilpattu entrance, along with numerous other ancient ruins hidden in the jungle are quite unprotected.

Conservator Dissanayake said that the Wilpattu National Park area was declared on February 25, 1938. The National Park consists of 1,40,000 hectares with about 42 shallow lakes (willus in it.)

Chaminda Kumara Dissanayake (35) from Nochchiyagama who owns a number of safari vehicles for visitors to go round the national park said 35 of them have formed a tourist guider society and registered with the Wildlife Department.

“For a complete site seeing of Wilpattu it takes at least three days. We undertake a days trip which enable us to cover 70% of the natural surroundings of the park. Tourists like to stay the night which is not allowed. The banks of ‘Malwathuoya’ and Kalaoya two rivers flowing via the park could be fine tourist attractions. I am aware of a large number of historic sites with ruined shrine rooms in Wilpattu. But we are unable to take visitors there due to the lack of approach roads.

The proposed tourist industry zone along the Wilpattu coastal area and the road starting from Eluwankulam in Puttlam to Mannar via Wilpattu seems to be viable, commercially successfull and a tourism industry promoting enterprise. But there should be a guarantee for the protection and safety of the wildlife, the forest resources, the biological diversity in the national park and the security, Chaminda Kumara stressed.

 

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