It was a monday night I went to see a friend who owns a boutique shop in the coastal belt of Negombo just in front of Tourist police premises. I haven’t been there for ages since the last time I had business inside the police.
The shop hasn’t seems to be refurbished ever since its conception. Silks, leather bags, kimono’s, gowns, fancy necklaces, wooden crafts and various artifacts adorn whole place and showcase the investment in millions with no effort.
My friend is a cool guy and a fastly growing business man with little education under his belt. He never let anyone pass his shop without doing business. Even with the stubborn foreigners who normally doesn’t understand a word he speaks will be buying something or other in his shop.
I was too early to reach there in a “Pleasure” scooty than our appointed time. Since he was not there I engaged with the sales boy for some time asking details about the businesses and social activities in that area.
As usually business men start to say he says “business is dull’ and moved on to say that the hotels are full but the foreigners are not buying stuffs or spending much. “They have learned now to spend little here” he added. He said this is the first time he has ever seen a tourist buying bread from local bread vending vans and collecting water from the metro water line for drinking.
As a business man in Negombo I have noticed this behaviour of tourists for the first time in Sri Lanka. Not like last year they tend to bargain a lot even over ten rupees. Some say tourist from United kingdom and German are the best from europe for businesses.
As time permits we had discussions about brothels and child prostitution in that area. He said “It is the small boys foreigners are looking for, the dealings are done on beach shore after dusk and the places are more adjacent to Negombo town”
He added “Night clubs are on the making and if it started to function as in 2002 we will lose our girls in that area”. The social responsibility in his words, Is something very precious which is very rare in our community.
As we were onto other stuffs my friend arrived and he took me by surprise when even before he enter the shop he catches few foreigners and forced them to get into his shop by engaging in powerful conversation with them and did some business in a lightening speed.
What I personally understand is that Tourism is not up to standard in Negombo these days and these type of tourists are neither the customers we used to have. High class tourists seems to move away from Sri Lanka towards other destinations and the BOP of the tourists are reaching Sri Lanka. It is not a good sign for Investors in Tourism.