The Indian Ocean island nation of Sri Lanka reopened its roads and beaches to international tourists today, suspending bans on holidays for nearly a quarter century.
The day after Sri Lanka became fully democratic, along with open trade and exchange of funds, the country’s tourism police issued a statement welcoming “all traveler to come and experience the pride of Sri Lanka and to enjoy all of its beaches, even during the ‘Crown Jewels.’”
According to the police, most tourists arrive during the Hindu festival of Diwali or Christmas, which have been banned in Sri Lanka since the end of the civil war in 2009.
For the first time since returning to the republic after an 85-year exile, King Prabhudeen Bandaranaike, Sri Lanka’s first prime minister and a key figure of the country’s political history, joined in the celebrations as the doors to the nation were thrown open to international travelers.
The “welcome signal,” which publicly brought an end to travel bans that had been in place since 1978, could reverberate for years to come, with “the tourism police receiving hundreds of calls from the holidaymakers’ families, colleagues and neighbors,” reports The Telegraph in Sri Lanka.
After decades of nationalistic animosities that spurred violent turnouts at protests, Sri Lanka has experienced something of a recovery in tourism, with steady increases in travel during the previous few years.
However, some areas still remain off-limits, such as the famous Buddhist-holed temple-studded areas of Negombo in the West and Galle in the East.