I have been wanting to cover this topic for few weeks / months but never had enough time to do so. Since I am not a writer by profession I will just write down my thoughts as they come to my mind.
FEW FACTS ABOUT TOURISM IN SRI LANKA
- Tourists have always been traveling to Sri Lanka and an increase in numbers were even seen back in 1968.
- One of the famous places where tourists flocked to, was Hikkaduwa back in the "flower power" days. Mt-Lavinia beach in the outskirts of Colombo has also been a famous place in the early 1970s.
- In 1983 when insurgency irrupted between central government forces and a Rebel group, the numbers of tourists arriving to Sri lanka started to drop drastically.
- But through out the years, Sri Lankans who had small family run businesses, kept their doors open even though the number of guests were sometimes not enough even to cover their overheads.
- Unrest prevailed over and over again until the year 2009, and the tourism industry was badly hit.
- The war which cost so many lives of Sri lankans came to a bitter end in 2009 and ever since, places which were underdeveloped have started to see increased numbers of tourists. Kalpitiya is one such place.
- Kalpitiya was discovered as a Kiting destination by few expats back in 2007 / 08 and since then few small entrepreneurs ( locals and expats ) have set up locations where different types of services are offered.
- It is also important to mention the price of Petrol / Diesel / Kerosine in Sri Lanka, its almost the same price as if you would buy a litre else where in Europe or rest of the world ( sure not in the countries where Oil is cheaper than water ). And the cost of a vehicle is almost the double the price as in Europe. So when an airport pickup (for 144km) costs 65€, its not expensive but its just below the average prices.
WHEN A LOCAL OPENS A SMALL ROAD SIDE SHOP, USING HIS LIVING ROOM, WHERE ONE CAN HAVE A DECENT MEAL, PRICE OF THAT PARTICULAR SERVICE IS MUCH MORE ECONOMICAL FOR THE CUSTOMERS. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND A PERSON (SMALL INVESTOR) WHO COMES TO THAT AREA, BUYS A PROPERTY, BUILDS A SHOP AND STARTS TO PRODUCE THE SAME PRODUCT WILL HAVE A DIFFERENT PRICE. THIS REFLECTS JUST BASIC ECONOMICAL PRINCIPLES. LOGICALLY THIS IS BECAUSE HIS INVESTMENT TO OFFER THE SAME SERVICE IS MUCH HIGHER THAN THE LOCAL WHO LIVES IN THAT AREA. LIKE I ALREADY MENTIONED, THIS REFLECTS BASIC ECONOMICAL PRINCIPLES.
A family or a local person who turns his living room / garden into a room makes a much smaller investment than a person who creates an area where basic needs ( Electricity and running water to name a few) are available and also employs a small team to provide those services to makes the guests' stay as comfortable as possible. A family renting out their backyard room would not directly consider things such as : fixed costs, variable costs and annual depreciation costs, when they decide how much their room shall cost.
When I came to Kalpitiya for the first time, there were hardly any one (from Kalpitiya) offering services to visitors and travelers. It was mostly expats and Sri Lankans who had come to Kalpitiya from other parts of the island. Most of the places had intensive prices for basic services that they offered, and I partially understood the reason behind it. Personally, I was still not happy with way things have been developing in the area. But I still clearly understood that, the principles of: "demand and offer" were governing the price of services which were offered in Kalpitiya.
I used to ask myself, why would a traveler, travel almost more than 16 hours, door to door ( European mostly ) and have to spend the same amount as if he/she had travelled to south of Europe, even Egypt /Tunisia or Turkey. This was also one reason to create "Ruuk Village" from scracth which could fill in the missing offer in Kalpitiya, a place where visitors to Kalpitiya could have services by the lagoon at an affordable price.
There are different offers in Kalpitiya, and each visitor could choose between a range of services VS price. And each price has its governing principles.
There were hardly any places where a traveller or a Kiter could find a decent room with decent sanitary standards, so therefore travelers who came to Kalpitiya had no choice but pay the prices which were listed by the few establishments who offered services to visitors of Kalpitiya.
PRICE VS OFFER
In most areas of Kalpitiya Peninsula there are local families offering services but most of these families are not by the water, which means, if a traveller values living by the water with easy access to the lagoon where most of the activities takes place, then there is a price that you need to take in to consideration. And this is the biggest difference when you compare Kalpitiya with other famous places of Sri Lanka.
The bottom line is, you can never compare the price that you pay for a room/meals in a "Farm house ( managed and run by a family )" with the price that you need to pay in a "Alm hut" in the mountains with a great view. Choose your services wisely and be aware of how "the price" for a service is calculated. Basic economic principles govern the end price of a product. And we as consumers always have a choice.