Sri Lanka ASP surfing meet to raise sport tourism in country

Aug 17, 2011 – A combined men and women’s’ professional surfing event in Sri Lanka’s Arugam Bay sponsored by national carrier SriLankan Airlines will strengthen the island’s image as a sporting destination, officials said.

The Australasia Association of Sporting Professionals Men’s World Longboard Title event and ASP 6-star Women’s even has drawn surfers from 19 countries ranging from Argentina to New Zealand.

The event knaown as “SriLankan ASP Pro meet” is held for the second time running in Arugam Bay following the return of peace to Sri Lanka. In earlier years the event was held in the Maldives. This year 60 women surfers would also join the event.

“The event will showcase Sri Lanka as a tourist destination and Arugam Bay as one of best surfing spots in the world,” SriLankan Airlines chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe said.

“Arugam Bay has emerged as a key beach destination in the East Coast.”

Sri Lanka’s east coast is bright and sunny during mid-year when the more popular western and southwestern beaches face strong winds and rain during a seasonal monsoon. The East Coast is only now opening up after being ravaged by 30 years war.

Arugam Bay however was an oasis of hardcore surfers even during the war. The little village now has about 500 rooms officials said.

“The motto of the Association of Surfing Professionals is to put the world’s best surfers with the world’s best waves. Sri Lanka’s Arugam Bay is one of the world’s best waves,” ASP’s general manager Dane Jordan said.
Arugam Bay has a right breaking wave, which runs almost parallel to the shore.

Sri Lanka Tourism chief Nalaka Godahewa said positioning Sri Lanka as a sporting destination was one of eight ‘pillars’ of the country’s promotional strategy.

In the past Sri Lanka used to speak about beaches and heritage as the island has a rich archaeological history.

The product now has broadened to include wildlife, sports and adventure and traditional health practices. The country is also bidding for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“There are so many opportunities for people to come to this country and enjoy sports and adventure,” Godahewa said.

“We can offer surfing, sailing, scuba diving, ballooning, trekking, cycling.”

White water rafting is also becoming popular in the country both among domestic and foreign tourists.

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