Sri Lanka, the Resplendent Isle, the small tear-drop shaped nation off the south-eastern tip of India, has excited the imagination of those looking for a paradise on earth for centuries (Garcia 1988:94-100). Officially abandoning her British colonial name of Ceylon in 1972 for her present one, she was known in much earlier eras as Taprobane and Serendip, but has also commonly been referred to as 'The Pearl of the Orient'. As Goonetileke put it: "Ceylon has long been the dream island of nearly every traveller from the intrepid voyagers of ancient Greece and Rome, Arabia and fabled China to the peristaltic globe-trotters of the present charter flight era" (1976 ed.:xv). Even Marco Polo felt obliged to declare that for its size Ceylon was one of the finest islands in the world. During the early years of British missionary zeal, Bishop Heber's infamously derogatory hymn about Ceylon, could still manage a begrudging admission of the attractiveness of the place itself, even if not of its people - "Where every prospect pleases, And only man is vile" (cited in Goonetileke 1976 ed.:xxi). An island nation of some 25,000 square miles and in 1982 just over 15 million people, Sri Lanka is certainly a land of contrasts - from beautiful tropical beaches to spectacular mountain scenery, from massive modern hydro-electric schemes to ancient temples. Diversity also characterises her social and cultural life, for apart from the numerically preponderant Sinhalese, there is a sizeable Tamil population; apart from Buddhism, there are significant Hindu, Christian and Muslim minorities. With such cultural richness in addition to its legendary beauty, it is no wonder that when the tourism industry began to expand throughout the Third World after the Second World War, Sri Lanka should seek to become a significant tourist destination.