Infrastructure and Tourism in the Wake of the 2004 Tsunami
On Sunday, 26 December 2004, a series of earthquake-generated tsunamis devastated coastal communities in 11 Indian Ocean countries.
“The earthquake-induced tsunami resulted in at least 155,000 fatalities, 500,000 injuries, and damages that exceeded $10 billion. Also, it is estimated that 5 million people lost their homes or access to food and water.” -source-
In Sri Lanka, “the disaster killed 35,322 people and injured another 21,411 people. Over half a million people—516,150—were internally displaced and some 150,000 people lost their livelihoods. In all, 88,544 houses were destroyed or badly damaged.”
The Sri Lankan economy, like many in South East Asia, is dependent on activities such as fishing and tourism. Fishing is a significant source of export, accounting for 1.8% of GDP. Tourism in Sri Lanka, another significant source of income, accounted for 153,918 arrivals in December of 2013, up 21% from 2012. While poverty continues to be a significant national problem at 8.9% in 2010, the poverty rate has dropped appreciably since the 2004 tsunami (from 22.7% in 2002).
Energy Policy in Asia
The Asian region is one of the fastest growing in the world. The Asia Energy and Sustainability Initiative was adopted in 1992 to encourage the development of alternative energy sources, and the 2004 tsunami opened opportunities to rebuild infrastructure in Sri Lanka using green and sustainable technologies. Although fewer than one quarter of Sri Lankans have access to electricity, there are a number of electrification projects currently in process, including the Clean Energy and Access Improvement Project which will upgrade system controls, transmission systems, and substations throughout the country.
For a significant period after the 2004 tsunami, tourists were reluctant to travel to Sri Lanka and other Indian Ocean destinations. However, in the past several years tourism has rebounded, and as infrastructure and tourism destinations are rebuilt and upgraded expectations are that tourism will continue to increase. Sri Lanka offers unique and fulfilling opportunities for tourists, ranging from beaches to rainforests, from simple relaxation to cultural activities. Most notably, Negambo lagoon with mangrove swamps and thousands of birds for the nature traveler, Galle Face Green in the Colombo District offering pristine beaches and modern hotel accommodations, and Arugam Bay providing access to world-class surfing.
While the 2004 tsunami was devastating, Sri Lanka has taken the opportunity to rebuild and renew both infrastructure and culture. It is one of the premiere destinations for today’s world traveler.
MORE INFO ABOUT SRI LANKA? Make sure you check out this Sri Lanka 2013 tourism video, in Dutch but very well done: