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Tea Leaves

Sri Lanka recovers its tourism mojo

Touted as a top global destination for 2019, challenges remain

Foreign tourists explore an old Dutch built Fort along the Southern coastal belt in Sri Lanka. (Photo by Rajpal Abeynayake)

A decade ago, it would have been almost inconceivable that Lonely Planet, the world's best-selling guide book, would choose the country as its top global tourism destination. With its violent politics and bloody insurgency, Sri Lanka was then very much a lonely country, with most of the northern and eastern regions inaccessible due to fighting.

But Lonely Planet has now bestowed this honor on Sri Lanka for 2019 -- and local tour operators are ecstatic. They remember rounds of booking cancellations whenever bombs went off on this scenic island, and many years of negative press about human rights violations and security fears.

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