Philosophically I am unabashedly opposed to this discrimination, especially because most foreigners appreciate our Scintillating Biodiversity and Archaeology, unparalleled and unique on this earth.
I have traveled the world, I cannot recall an instance, where I was charged more than locals. However I have had to pay high visa fees as a Sri Lankan citizen!
Now comes the news that New Zealand is expected to introduce a charge on all foreigners entering the Country, except for Australians and Pacific Islanders. The reason for this charge is to help conserve their heritage sites and beauty, in a manner that is appropriate and sustainable, and reduce over visitation.
Well how about it, I WANT TO DO THE SAME IN SRI LANKA
If we charge US$100 per adult and US$50 per child under 18, at entry, with exceptions for Indian and Chinese citizens, we could use this money raised to protect our Heritage. In my view our Heritage, is our Biodiversity and the 250,000 places of Archeological Interest that is fast disappearing never to re-appear!
No one is going to begrudge us that charge, No one. Why exceptions for India and China? Well China lend us most of the money, and India is the Country we import most from, and whose multinational companies we hope will have their world HQs at the Port City once it will be shown to the obvious place for them. For my foreign friends who come to Sri Lanka more than 5 times in a 365 day period if you prove this upon entry you get a special pass with your passport number and validity period to treat you as a special guest. Of course if you want to get the book you still pay the US$100 for the privilege.
We must have a 50 year plan not one that covers tomorrow, which is abandoned the day after when some group shouts loudly.
If I was in charge of administering this scheme, I will provide each payer of US$100 a 250page coffee table book on the 100 sites off the beaten track that draw the least interest, and not ones even more than 100 Sri Lankans of today even know about. I will then have the chance to present them in a way that manages, the beauty, enjoyment of the tourist, using local guides in those obscure villages to show, only permit light vehicles to enter and provide an experience that is unparalleled. This book once digested will feel worth more than the US$100 they pay for the privilege of being told about them, and then not being discriminated when they enter a National Park or some such.
If you readers are open mouthed at this, trust me the US have sites that draw visitors, no one in SL will pay to see! We have 100K sites more pleasurable than that. So the 10 most overvisited sites will not get a mention in this book!
PS - I recently went to Bambarakanda Falls, and saw a foreign kid who had with his ruck sack hiked up all the way from the main road (2km climb) look aghast at some jerk at the entrance ask for a fee 8 times that of a local! DON'T DO IT