Tourist Boom Threatens Sri Lanka's Golden Beaches

Tourist boom threatens Sri Lanka's golden beaches

MOUNT LAVINIA, Sri Lanka, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 8th Augst,2016) - Tourists have flocked back to Sri Lanka's palm-fringed beaches since a bloody civil war ended in 2009, but environmentalists warn unchecked development means some areas are now so polluted, swimming there is a health hazard. Sewage from thriving hotels and guesthouses pours, often untreated, out into the water polluting the sea and shore. Even the country's own tourism minister says he has stopped swimming in the seas close to capital Colombo because of the dirty water. More than two million visitors now head to the tiny Indian Ocean island every year, more than four times the number that came in 2009.

Yet there are fears it is becoming a victim of its own success.

Guesthouses have sprung up to cater for soaring numbers of visitors -- but often with little thought for how to deal with the waste they produce. Many simply discharge raw sewage straight into the sea, exposing bathers to potential health issues. The problem is most acute just south of Colombo at Mount Lavinia, an upscale neighbourhood and resort known for its "Golden Mile" of beach. Environmental engineering expert Mahesh Jayaweera said the bays in Mount Lavinia were now so polluted that people should not bathe in them.