COLOMBO, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan government will develop the former war-torn northern district of Mannar into a tourism hub by modernizing its infrastructure and conserving key attractions, local media quoted Tourism Minister John Amaratunga as saying Thursday.
Amaratunga said that he will be sending officials from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority to Mannar to evaluate how the government should conserve attractions and develop the district for tourism.
Some of the key attractions that will be promoted will be the popular Adam's Bridge, the Wilpattu National Park, the Madhu Church, Hindu Temples, colonial architecture, marine resources, Mannar culture and the baobab tree.
"We want to bring investors to Mannar to open hotels, restaurants and recreation centers," he said.
The accommodation capacity of Mannar District is currently below 500, official data showed.
Just one project with 52 rooms had got final approval for construction from the government over the past eight years.
Amaratunga said that while the government will work to increase investor interest in Mannar tourism, it will also support the development of home stay units.
The government will also work on improving the basic infrastructure Mannar needs in the form of better roads, electricity and water accessibility.
The minister also cited the lack of air connectivity to Mannar as a reason for the district's poor performance in tourism.
He said the Hingurakgoda Airport in north central Sri Lanka will be opened up for domestic air traffic.
Sri Lanka's tourism industry, which was once heavily scarred by a 30-year civil conflict, has become one of the leading industries after it was dubbed as one of the world's greatest tourist hot spots by several international publications.
Tourist arrivals have recorded a growth of 15.3 percent during the first half of 2018 compared with the same period last year, recent statistics from the Tourism Ministry showed.