Six years after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami and one year after its 25-year-long civil war came to an end, this tropical island nation still gropes for political and economic stability. Tourism, if done right, could help it get back on its feet. Having escaped earlier waves of flavorless resort development that plagued other parts of the island and exhibiting some successful environmental conservation projects, the south coast shows promise for becoming a sustainable destination.
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"Fairly unspoiled area with attractive coastlines and small fishing villages. Interesting architecture in places. Traditional ways of life seem fairly intact. Attractive, unspoiled landscapes and national parks. Most tourism at present appears to fir it with the locality. Such areas could now be under increasing pressure for new tourism developments especially as the economy recovers from the civil war."
"End of war means the area is at a turning point. The tourist industry has many good folks who know how to take advantage of the moment and prepare a sustainable future. This area deserves to be spotlighted in the survey."
"Gorgeous, friendly, historic area with stunning beaches and mellow coastal towns. Galle very impressive with a wide range of small properties in which to stay."
- Nat Geo Expeditions
"The coastline has been bought by foreigners who do not contribute to the economy. They rent their houses on the Internet, usually at prices in excess of $500 a night, but the money does not enter the country. They have built high walls to enclose their properties. Driving down on the coastal road is not fun anymore."