A new entry point to the Wilpattu National Park was opened to the public at Eluwankulama yesterday (17). This was in fulfillment of a pledge given to hoteliers in Kalpitiya just over a month ago by the Minister of Tourism Development to establish a direct link between Kalpitiya and the Wilpattu National Park to boost tourism to the area.
The new entry point to Wilpattu National Park located on the Puttalam – Mannar Road at the Eluwankulama causeway was declared open by the Minister of Tourism Development, Lands and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga and the Minister of Wildlife Conservation Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, with the participation of Chief Minister of the North Western Province, Dharmasiri Dassanayake and Minister of Internal Affairs and Wayamba Development, S.B. Nawinna.
With the opening of the new entrance gate preparations are also being made to establish a direct ferry service between Kalpitiya and Gangewadiya, which is the closest landing point to the Wilpattu Park. As a part of the project a new civilian jetty is also being constructed in addition to the existing navy jetty to facilitate the transportation of tourists by sea to the Wilpattu Park. The new jetty is expected to be completed in a couple of months. Visitors will however need to travel a short distance by road from the jetty to the Eluwankulama Wildlife Lodge where the new entry point to the Wilpattu Park is located.
The new sea/land route will drastically cut down travel time between Kalpitiya and Wilpattu from the present two and a half hours to just under an hour, offering nature and wildlife tourists a greater incentive to visit both locations.
At present the journey from Kalpitiya to Wilpattu involves a circuitous120km road trip which takes around two and a half hours. With the opening of the new route travel time is cut down to under an hour comprising of a 35 minute boat ride and a 20 minute road trip of 11 kilometers from Gangewadiya Jetty to the new Eluwankulama Wildlife Lodge entry point.
“We are very happy with the pace of implementing what was decided on just over a month ago. We are very thankful to the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation which has been very cooperative in getting this project off the ground,” noted an appreciative Tourism Development Minister, John Amaratunga.
“As a result of this initiative tourists no longer need to choose between Kalpitiya’s whales and Wilpattu’s wildlife. They can now experience both in a single day. What we have done is add value to what Kalpitiya has to offer as a travel destination,” said Minister Amaratunga.
Meanwhile following a discussion between the Chief Minister of the NWP, Dharmasiri Dassanayake, Minister of Internal Affairs and Wayamba Development, S.B. Nawinna, Tourism Development, Lands and Christian Affairs, Minister John Amaratunga, Minister of Wildlife Conservation Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, navy personnel and local government officials at the Gangewadiya beach last morning (17) it was decided to draw up a tourism map covering the Kalpitiya peninsula, the lagoon and its islands, as well as the Wilpattu Park region. The map will feature places of natural, religious and historical interest such the landing point of Sri Lanka’s first ruler, King Vijaya.
It was also decided that the Ministries of Tourism and Wildlife will work closely with each other to protect and sustain the fragile eco system in the ocean, the lagoon and the park while at the same time working towards maximising the potential for tourism development in the Kalpitiya region. Towards this end a new Wildlife Office was opened in Vanathawilluwa by the Tourism Minister yesterday.
See more at: FT