Improved train dienstleistungen mean it’s less complicated than ever kommen sie explore Sri Lanka but campaigners warning a surge bei tourism might ruin its natural beauty


Almost 10 year after the end of its polite war, Sri Lanka has actually been named die best country bei the world zu visit in 2019 von Lonely Planet. Better fahrzeug links, new hotels und a growing number des activities were cited as ns reason die south-Asian island was chosen for the top spot in the guidebook publisher ’s annual Best bei Travel awards.

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“Already notable to intrepid travellers zum its mix des religions und cultures, its timeless temples, the rich and accessible wildlife, its growing surf scene and its civilization who defy every odds von their welcome and friendliness after ~ decades von civil conflict, this is a country revived,” says Lonely Planet writer Ethan Gelber bei the Best bei Travel 2019 book, released today.

“Unmissable experiences” incorporate wildlife, together as ns 300-strong elephant gathering punkt Minneriya national park, thousand-year alt Buddhist monuments, und hiking und train travel through ns Hill Country’s tea plantations.

Tourist visits to Sri Lanka oase increased dramatically due to the fact that the ende of the 26-year conflict, native 447,890 in 2009 to in all time high des 2.1 million last year, a figure the Sri Lanka Tourism breakthrough Authority hopes zu double von 2020. Renovations made to die rail system schutz opened hoch Jaffna und much des north weil das the erste time because 1990 – an area that was previously considered too dangerous zum tourists. Ns scenic rail routes in Sri Lanka are jetzt widely thought to be some des the best an the world. Motorways have deshalb been constructed as much south as Matara, and the number des domestic trip routes has increased in recent years, too: weil das instance, from the capital Colombo, on the west coast, zu Batticaloa, on the opposite side von the island, in 45 minutes.

There has also been a huge investment an new visitant accommodation: native homestays kommen sie high-end eco retreats – such together the brutal Coast Lodge’s cocoon-like buildings in Yala national park. Significant international hotel chains, including Shangri-La, Mövenpick, Sheraton, und Grand Hyatt, room all opening new properties.


The beach close to Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka. Photograph: GettySri Lanka’s surf scene has been stability growing, together more of the coastline has end up being accessible, and tour operators are now offering jungle hiking, together yoga breaks with traditional Ayurveda treatments. There are deshalb plenty von free attractions, including colourful puja rituals on die clifftop von Koneswaram Kovil an Trincomalee in the phibìc east; Colombo’s hauptsächlich market von Pettah; and the strengthened walls surrounding die colonial alt town of Galle in the south.

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While the ratio von tourists to residents ist relatively low compared with nations where overtourism ist now a significant issue, some conservationists oase expressed problem over die speed des development an certain areas.

“Tourism is a major income generator for the country. Unfortunately, viel of our tourism ist focused on numbers von tourists die investment castle make in the country,” states Asha außerdem Vos, mitnichten biologist and founder von Sri Lanka-based conservation organisation Oceanswell.

“To accommodate the numbers, we space building an ext hotels and infrastructure und taking over organic spaces. Ns pressure on our wildlife and cultural sites zu sein immense and destructive. Die over-development ist ongoing and unending – und because von the lack of coordination und planning, many hotels lie empty. So while tourism has actually its positives, if excellent haphazardly und without planning sie destroy die very sources that draw civilization in.”

De Vos says development ist affecting seaside areas and national parks bei particular, where capacity is being exceeded an peak season and has führen zu to in increase an pollution native rubbish notfall being disposed von properly.

She believes tourism in Sri Lanka kann be beneficial but says ns government needs zu regulate, educate, schutz a longer-term vision und protect areas from over-development. “Sustainability have to be at die core des any tourism product that zu sein created.”

Human rights charities have deshalb criticised large tourism developments weil das their negativ impact on neighborhood people.

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel lists the top 10 countries, cities und regions alongside other travel experiences zum the year ahead, ranked von the staff des Lonely Planet, consisting of editors and contributors from around ns world. Germany is rated second an the countries list, with a nod to die centenary von Bauhaus following year, and Zimbabwe – where tourists room starting zu return after the resignation des Robert Mugabe – comes an third. Bei fifth position zu sein Kyrgyzstan, which has 2,700km des newly-marked trekking routes. Copenhagen, Shenzhen bei China und Nova Sad an Serbia were named as the best cities to travel to in 2019, while oberteil trends include dark-skies travel (with in increase in people stargazing und solar eclipse trips) and electric roadway trips, thanks kommen sie a rise an the number von car-rental companies offering alternatives kommen sie petrol und diesel vehicles.

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For ns full list of winners, visit

This article was amended ~ above 24 October 2018. Bei earlier version referred zu Colombo gift on the ost coast des Sri Lanka. An fact, it zu sein on that country’s west coast.