Touted as a top global destination for 2019, challenges remain
A decade ago, it would have been almost inconceivable that Lonely Planet, the world’s best-selling guide book, would choose the country as its top global tourism destination. With its violent politics and bloody insurgency, Sri Lanka was then very much a lonely country, with most of the northern and eastern regions inaccessible due to fighting.
But Lonely Planet has now bestowed this honor on Sri Lanka for 2019 — and local tour operators are ecstatic. They remember rounds of booking cancellations whenever bombs went off on this scenic island, and many years of negative press about human rights violations and security fears.
All that began to change after the civil war ended in 2009. But in late 2018, their hopes for a tourism boom faltered when President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, provoking a constitutional crisis that threatened to renew civil strife. Political calm has now apparently returned, with the restoration of the prime minister and a semblance of stability.