September 13, 2010

Sri Lanka

What a gem of a country Sri Lanka is! Natural beauty aside, it has the highest literacy rate in South Asia (92%), and breathtaking religious harmony (for the time being – knock on wood). More than once did I spy a Hindu or Buddhist temple sharing a wall with a church or a masjid. With the civil war over, tourists are flocking to the island – over 40% of the travellers I saw at the airport both when coming and going were caucasian tourists - and construction of new resorts is booming. Sri Lanka is beginning to cash its peace dividend and the checks are only going to get larger as the tourism infrastructure develops.

I was in Sri Lanka for work, facilitating a regional conference on grid interactive utility scale wind power for South Asia. Delegates from 8 countries as well as numerous turbine vendors, banks and engineering consultants attended. All in all it was a big success and several sizeable deals were struck.

However, that didn’t leave much time to do tourism-type stuff. I basically was only able to see Columbo and Puttalam (because we toured a wind farm near there), both on the Western coast. In the future I’d like to go to Kandy and see both the Southern and Northern coasts.

When I went, the war against the LTTE had ended within the last year. Security was still very high. My car from the airport to the hotel was stopped at 4 seperate checkposts by what looked like military police. Even once inside Colombo, I saw far more armed uniformed men than I’m accustomed to.