12th September 2010, www.sundayobserver.lk, By Shirajiv Sirimane
There has been an over 25 percent increase in the number of arrivals of local and foreign visitors to Jaffna during this year's Nallur festival in the peninsula.
The annual event, which is the island's longest festival, saw an over 10 percent increase in Tamil diaspora participation as well this year.
Director, Sri Lanka Tourism, S. Kalaiselvam said this is the second time the event is being held after the dawn of permanent peace and members of the Diaspora have tried to get themselves organised for this world famous event. "We have seen a large number of arrivals, especially from Canada, UK and Australia for this event," he said.
Kalaiselvam said that the Tamil Diaspora either took flights or used public transport to go to Jaffna. Over 25 buses travel to Jaffna daily while Air Force Heli Tours also operates daily flights to Palali.
He said that there are over 150 quality rooms for accommodation in Jaffna and that several guest-houses are opened every month. Jaffna residents are also renting out their houses or parts of houses to cater to the demand during the festive season, bringing them an additional revenue as well.
Sri Lanka Tourism, as an initiative to promote religious and cultural tourism, has spearheaded the promotion of the historic Nallur festival, particularly with the Tamil Diaspora, who have been encouraged to come with their families and participate in the festivities.
Cottage industries too have benefited with made-in-Jaffna products being sold at high prices while three-wheelers, vans and restaurants too are doing brisk business.
An official from the Jaffna Chamber of Commerce said that local tourists are coming to Jaffna in large numbers and this had increased by over 15 percent during the festive season. "On average, 5,000 Southerners visit Jaffna during weekdays and long holidays and on weekends this increases to around 7,500," he said.