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Police in Sri Lanka have begun tracking tourists’ whereabouts in the country “for their own safety”, officials have said.
Hotels and guesthouses have been asked to inform the police of the passport numbers and visa details of all foreigners.
“Tourists are important to our economy,” said Buddhika Siriwardena, a police spokesman. “This is to ensure their own safety. This scheme will ensure officers will have details of tourists in their areas to protect them.”
Hotels are obliged to provide the information under an 1866 ordinance, in addition to the data already collected by the authorities for tourism industry statistics.
While the Foreign Office states that violent crime against foreigners is “infrequent”, the move comes following the death of a British national, Khuram Shaikh, who was attacked at a southern resort of Tangalle on Christmas Day in 2011.
He was shot and stabbed after trying to break up a fight in a hotel bar.
Two European tourists were also beaten up in central Sri Lanka last month.
The country’s tourist industry has been ignited by the end of recent hostilities, with former war zones in the north and east now opening up to visitors.
However, some human rights groups have criticised what they describe as “tasteless war tourism”, including holiday accommodation built on the site of Sri Lanka’s “killing fields” .
The Sri Lankan government has also come under fire for allegedly bulldozing independent guesthouses to make way for new holiday resorts, and for pressing ahead with “morally dubious” tourism projects “morally dubious” in Hambantota and Kalpitiya, on the south and north-west coasts.
A million foreigners visited Sri Lanka in 2012, more than double the number that arrived in the final year of the civil war. The tourism boom has subsequently resulted in a three-fold increase in hotel prices.
Edited at Telegraph.co.uk by Natalie Paris