Sigiriya, considered to be one of the most valuable historical monuments in Sri Lanka, has long been renowned as an architectural wonder of urban planning and engineering, and a UNESCO world heritage site since 1982. Converted into a royal palace following King Kashyapa’s flight from the then capital Anuradhapura, the inner-city tiers, water gardens and moats are credited for their advanced, ingenious design.
The richly decorated frescoes and mirrored wall have also led Sigiriya to become one of Sri Lanka Tourism’s most prominent archaeological attractions. The latest addition to Sigiriya’s accolades is the recent announcement by Bloomberg, that listed the Lion Rock fortress, as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Bloomberg’s announcement is timely for Sri Lanka, as the island plans to take advantage of the new behavioral patterns that are expected to emerge among post-pandemic travelers. According to experts from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), travelers are now more likely to demand a focus on sustainability, connections with local communities, open-air and nature-based cultural experiences—in other words, the ethos of travel in our little island home.
Before global travel restrictions, the tourism sector in Sri Lanka was the third-largest export earner accounting for around 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018 with the sector directly employing 250,000 people and up to 2 million, indirectly. The number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka nearly doubled from 1.5 million to 2.3 million from 2014 to 2018. Revitalizing this sector through a speedy, clean and green recovery has the potential to provide tangible benefits to the Sri Lankan economy and communities across the island.