Sri Lanka invests in shipwreck tourism

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Lanka Sportreizen

Country has hundreds of possible shipwreck dive sites

Sri Lanka Tourism is urging the country’s government to invest in the promotion of shipwreck exploration alongside other attractions in the country.

A proposal has been submitted to the government, Sri Lanka Tourism chairman Udaya Nanayakkara confirms.

To move the plan forward, veteran diver Thilak Weerasinghe, chairman of Lanka Sportreizen, has been appointed by the country’s prime minister as a Tourism Task Force member.

He is focusing on setting up guidelines and training facilities and creating more dive schools and facilities for both water and land-based sports.

His company handles 6,000 dives per year, of which 500 are made by tourists exploring shipwrecks. “Many of them are holiday divers who come on a seven- to ten-day stay, go around the countryside and end with a diving experience,” he tells TTG Asia.

Ruled at various times by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British, and also attacked by the Japanese during World War II, Sri Lanka’s waters are full of shipwrecks. More than 200 battleships lay submerged off its coast.

One attraction is the SS British Sergeant, a British oil tanker sunk by Japanese planes in April 1942, which can be viewed at a depth of 13m to 25m off the eastern coast. For more experienced divers, the HMS Hermes, a British aircraft carrier sunk by the Japanese, is a site at a depth of 40m to 53m.

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