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Uber-chic travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler promotes the incredible beauty of the island of Sri Lanka; yet, through their reportage, one factor seems to resonate convincingly – the allure of its people.

Sri Lanka gets another fillip to its revitalised tourism drive with the luxury lifestyle and travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler rating it as the second best place to visit in 2016.  Australia pipped it to first as the best place to visit for this year.

This is indeed great news for the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.  Condé Nast Traveler goes beyond a mere travel magazine with a focus on literary journalism and hard news reporting.

Condé Nast Traveler is a luxury and lifestyle travel magazine published by Condé Nast. The magazine has won 25 National Magazine Awards. Espousing the motto “Truth in Travel,” the magazine notably does not accept travel industry freebies.
Conde Nast Traveler writer Katherine LaGrave had this to say about Sri Lanka in the latest report:

Sri Lanka – Long overshadowed by its Indian and Maldivian neighbors, this tropical island remains affordable, uncrowded, and relatively unexplored. Colombo, the country’s seaside capital, is undergoing a cosmopolitan upgrade, while Galle on the southwestern shore just welcomed a new luxury design hotel, Tri Lanka. If that weren’t enough, the island’s timeless ruins and endless stretches of surf beckon.

It is not the first time the magazine has covered the incredible potential of our island.  A couple of years ago, Conde Nast Traveler writer Sebastian Faulks commented:
“It seems hard for Sri Lanka to make up its mind exactly what it wants to be. There is a sense of unrealised potential. Sri Lankan men are almost invariably distinguished-looking – if you stop at a remote way station, the guy whose job is no more than to push leaves about with a besom will look like a professor of politics at Yale”

Another writer commented
“The cynics call it ‘India lite’. Well, yes, you can see what they mean: Sri Lanka is an easy place to visit, with polite, unruffled and uninvasive inhabitants. Walk along any street in Colombo, and passing motor-rickshaw drivers will certainly stop to ask about your transport requirements. But here’s the funny thing: say “no thanks” and they will actually give up and go away. You feel like shouting after them: ‘Come on, hassle me – I can take it!’
It also has one thing that its oversized neighbour India lacks: real beaches. The Sri Lankan Riviera, as it is unofficially known, wraps around a great swathe of the island’s west and south coasts. Beaches with sand the golden-tan colour you’re hoping to achieve are backed by palm trees and a patchwork of gardens, smallholdings, mangosteen orchards and rice paddies, interspersed, further south, with the bright-green sweep of the lowland tea plantations.”

Conde Nast Traveler writers Camilla McPhie and Katie Scott wrote: “The victim of a 20-year civil war and the 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka has suffered a dramatic drop-off in tourism over recent years. But thanks to peace being declared in early 2009 and the reconstruction of areas devastated by tsunami flooding, the country is once again appearing on the to-do lists of many an intrepid traveller. And deservedly so: there are very few places in the world where you can experience such a variety of countryside and climates: hot sandy beaches, cool hillside terrains, lush rainforests and elephant-filled national parks are just some of the reasons why Sri Lanka is known as the “pearl of the Indian Ocean”. While the country’s north remains under re-construction after the war and thus out of bounds to travellers, there are still plenty of peaceful areas that are perfectly safe: from white-water rafting in Kitulgala to tea and temples in Kandy, wildlife safaris in Yala to surfing on the south coast: there is a place and pursuit to suit everyone on this beautiful island.”

While the reference to the island being viewed as “India Lite” may not be accurate, what is evident is that the people of Sri Lanka make a huge impression with visitors.  As our country becomes more known to the world at large, savvy visitors know that we defend our own identity, our own culture and our own way of life fiercely.  While India has its own marvels, Sri Lanka even remotely does not fall into the category of “India Lite”.

It underscores the fact that despite all its natural beauty, Sri Lanka’s greatest resource is its gentle, warm and friendly people.  This is the one impression visitors take with them and we should rightly preserve and nurture our unique take on life and our inherent joie de vivre as a united, proud and dignified people.

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