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The past few years have seen a united and consolidated effort on all fronts to transform Sri Lanka into a truly contemporary tourist destination. This includes positioning the island as a land of wonder and awe, brimming with magical experiences, while offering modern facilities and world-class amenities. A great job is also done on the ground to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place and that the myriad delicacies of the island are easily accessible to all visitors. This includes ease of access for people with disabilities and those with reduced mobility, as the island strives to develop a more inclusive tourism industry.

The most recent project in this spirit is “The Cable Car Project”, an initiative of Outdoor Engineering Lanka PVT Ltd, facilitated by the Investor Relations Unit (IRU) of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). The project, which is a first for Sri Lanka, will give the island its first experience with a cable car, which will span a distance of almost 4 kilometers. The cable car will connect Nanu Oya, a destination made famous by its strategically located train station, to the town of Nuwara Eliya. This, in turn, will provide an alternate and beautifully scenic route between the two locations.

The location chosen for the project takes advantage of the breathtaking scenery and allows visitors to have a bird’s eye view of the lush green landscape, the rolling hills, the many tea plantations and, of course, the mountain forests of Nuwara Eliya. This new mode of locomotion will reduce the direct impact of tourism on nature, while allowing visitors to observe, interact and enjoy the environment with minimal environmental impact. The project with an investment value which currently stands at 55 million euros ($ 62.15 million) will be implemented as a ‘build, own, operate and transfer’ model and, therefore, this agreement allows the transfer of the total capital investment to the government of Sri Lanka after a period of 30 years. The project is expected to be completed within 18 months from the date of receipt of all approvals. Outdoor Engineers AG of Switzerland and its local representative, Outdoor Engineering Lanka Pvt Ltd are the project representatives. Outdoor Engineers AG brings over 30 years of experience in the cable car industry and has been involved in over 30 cable car installations around the world, including the famous Sentosa Cable Car in Singapore. The cable car equipment will be supplied and installed by the partner organization of Outdoor Engineers AG, Doppelmayr Seilbahnen GmbH from Austria, which is currently the world leader in the manufacture and installation of cable cars, having built more than 15,100 installations in 96 countries. The cable car system used on the project has a long history of use in the mountainous regions of Europe and has recently gained wide acceptance around the world. What sets them apart from most other modes of transport is their ease of use, low environmental impact and prospects for sustainability. In fact, cable car systems are ideal for the tourism sector because they have minimal impact on the environment, help to reduce emissions significantly and leave no emissions or harmful residue behind. The project will be built to the highest global safety standards, reliable and easy to maintain with costs associated with operation and maintenance.

Speaking about this innovative and exciting project, the President of Sri Lanka Tourism, Ms. Kimarli Fernando, said: “It gives everyone at Sri Lanka Tourism immense pride to be involved in this project, which is indicative of the progressive attitude that we have. adopted towards the future of the island and its tourism sector. The IRU division of SLTDA, in collaboration with the respective regulatory agencies, has enabled a high level of competence and efficiency in accordance with international construction, safety, environmental and quality standards. Thanks to an efficient and healthy collaboration of all the agencies involved, this has enabled full compliance with all the necessary regulatory frameworks, allowing for greater efficiency and transparency.

The design of the “cable car project” ensures that it blends in perfectly with the surrounding landscape so as not to distract from the natural surroundings. Care was also taken to preserve the tree line, canopy, and other aspects of the wilderness during construction and implementation. The implementation of the project has been shown to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions by approximately 180 metric tonnes per year. As a BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) project, the operation will create new industries, opportunities and jobs in the region. This is essential, as Sri Lanka seeks to raise living standards across the country while providing new opportunities for rural communities. The project is also revealing of what can be achieved when the many facets of government work together towards a unified vision. Working closely with Sri Lanka Tourism, UDA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Outdoor Engineering Lanka Pvt. Ltd. Dec. 9 to allocate land for this project over a 30-year lease period and has done an excellent job clearing the necessary land, while also establishing strict guidelines for its preservation and use. A collective effort of vital government agencies such as CEA and the Forestry Department as well as nearly 20 other supervisory agencies were also essential to the success of the project.

The project is one of many ongoing projects under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor” political initiative. This is an essential step in the right direction as Sri Lanka positions itself as an exclusive destination for the high value, experiential traveler. The projects will also strengthen the island’s reputation in the eyes of the world, presenting it as a cosmopolitan destination that has pretty much everything a world traveler could want.

Tourism in Sri Lanka

About Brad S. Fulton

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