SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier will be hosting the annual international surfing event for the second consecutive year in Arugam Bay at an overall operational cost of Rs.30 million.
Surfers this year for the SriLankan Airlines Pro Surfing 2011 will witness 96 participants from around the world with 60 top women for the first time, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremesinghe said.
He noted that this year’s event put Sri Lanka firmly on the world surfing map, an event conducted together with the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) from August 30 – September 4.
This year will also witness the event being pushed up further by engaging participants to contest for the ASP Men’s World Longboard Title. The Men’s WLT has attracted champions such as Duane Desoto, Bonga Perkins, Josh Constable, Phil Rajzman and Harley Ingleby. While the women’s short board side has confirmed Alana Blanchard, Courtney Conlogue and Bruna Schmitz.
A key attraction this year will also be an increased number of beach sports for locals as well with the beaches set to bring in a number of tourists to the shore, Mr. Wickremesinghe pointed out.
During this event the surfers will chase ASP star points and a generous prize pool of US$145, 000.
The sporting event is also creating interest among tourists to visit Arugam Bay as the country is now setting a place for its famous beach to surf, Sri Lanka Tourism Authority Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said.
The positioning of Sri Lanka as a key sporting destination is likely to ensure the country will become a sport hub in addition to planned hubs, he said adding that this is likely to happen should Sri Lanka be selected for the conduct of the Commonwealth Games as well.
ASP Contest Director Dane Jordan speaking at the media briefing said some of the world’s best surfers will be coming down to Arugam Bay and as in the case of tennis the surfing contest is also set to become more of an entertainment as well.
SriLankan Airlines will also be operating its float planes in a bid to accommodate visitors to the destination where rights to land have been obtained in close proximity to the beach site.
In this respect, travellers to Arugam Bay will be able to get to the destination within 65 minutes compared to about 7-8 hours of travelling on land.
SriLankan Airlines has been working on many sporting events both at home and overseas to generate awareness in new markets and stimulate interest in existing tourist markets.
As such the airline has been sponsoring international surfing contests of the Japan Pro Surfing Association and the British Pro Surfing Association.