Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Arugam Bay : Sri Lankan New Wave

2surfingThe beauty, shape and the art of the human body mingle with the warmth and radiance of the ocean, surroundings and the sky. A person exploring the depths of human vigor strives to catch the perfect wave and seeks to reach utter fulfillment, completion harmonizing with nature. Surfing thus quenches his ardent thirst for adventure and ecstasy providing him the space and medium for athleticism and free expression. All these traits of Surfing draw millions to the ocean and a group of top rated surfers from many countries in the world flew to Sri Lanka recently to capture an exceptional surfing experience. 

The splendor of Sri Lanka Airlines Pro 2011, the international surfing contest began, on 30th August, 2011 on the Arugam Bay beach in Potuvil in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka that has been known as one of the most suitable destinations for Surfing in the world.
 2surfingArugam Bay 1105 male and female Surfers representing 21 countries including United States of America, England, Germany, Australia, South Africa and Hawaii were fortunate enough to feel the smooth and lovely waves of Arugam Bay this year.  Sri Lanka entered the arena of competition for the first time and Mr. Siril Praneeth’s unique surfing display fascinated all who were present.

The event concluded on 4th September 2011. Duane Dusoto (HAW) has been able to maintain his world number one rank reigning as the ASP World Longboard Champion of the contest.

Arugam Bay 3"This is a dream come true, this is what we work so hard for. The waves here have been amazing, it's never been flat and we had the best surf in the final, it was perfect. Arugaman Bay is an awesome wave!"  Dusoto exclaimed. His top rated skill and the pride of victory did not detain him from being grateful to Sri Lanka. “Sri Lanka and Arugam Bay you are beautiful people and I'm so glad to be here."

Mean while the Courtney Conlogue, (USA) the winner of the Women's ASP 6-Star Women's World Tour final, said,  “I love this place, the waves are great and I'm already looking forward to coming back next year". And the surfing fans of many nationalities that peopled the Arugam Bay beach for six days expressed their sincere love for Sri Lanka while enjoying the utmost touch of sun, sand and sea amidst its peaceful environs.

Surfing in Arugam Bay opens doors to a most sought after tourist destination in the Island. The visitors who cross the long bridge of Arugam Bay often discover a wide range of experiences comprising of pristine beaches, the wild call of nature, historical majesty of heritage, the essence of life, scenery: the heaven on earth, thrills where sky is the limit, relishing bliss of relaxation and the festive glow  reflecting the color of culture.

Arugam Bay 14Located in the District of Ampara, Arugam Bay stretches between Lahugala and Yala National Parks that boast of the Asian Elephant’s magnificent presence and the Kumana National Park: the dream of the bird watchers.

Arugam Bay 4
Crocodile Rock in Panama surrounded by unique pink rocks exposes a visitor to the chilling sight of huge crocodiles basking in the sun with mouths wide open. Similarly the mesmerizing Potuvil beach and the lagoon offer the opportunity to delve in to the mysterious beauty of nature.

Arugam Bay 5And the amazing sand dunes that rise from the surrounding grounds create an Arabic scene. The richness of Arugam Bay exceeds its natural diversity. The serenity, silence and tranquility of Kudumbigala Forest Hermitage that houses over 200 natural caves that believed to have been occupied by Buddhist monks since 1st century and the Tharulena Aranya Senasanaya Buddhist Forest Hermitage that comprises of caves as large as 512 feet long and 30 feet wide with a height of 82 feet speak of the glory of Sri Lankan Buddhist civilization.  Legends reveal that King Kavan Tissa married Vihara Maha Devi in the 2000- year- old Magul Maha Viharaya located just outside Potuvil. The term ‘Magul’ refers to the wedding in Sinhalese language.  The historical Muhudu Maha Viharaya is believed to be the place where Vihara Maha Devi has got dressed for the wedding. According to the chief monk of this temple ruins can be seen even under the sea. Significantly it has the only moonstone in the island that depicts the moments of a man rising upon an elephant.
 Arugam Bay 6Arugam Bay and the surrounding area with its exceptional features of nature, culture, religion and the heritage would undeoubtedly be a memorable experience to both local and foreign visitors making it a popular travel destination in the country. Amidst its peaceful environs measures have been taken to ensure the comfort and the safety of the visitors.  The renovated and carpet laid main road system provides easy and quick access to the area. Now a ride by the sea plane from Colombo to Arugam Bay reduces the hour’s long journey to 50 minutes along with the opportunity to enjoy the Sri Lankan landscape.

Arugam Bay 8Commenting in this regard, Mr. M. H. Jauffer, the President of the Chambers of Tourism and Industry observed that the sea plane ride enables visitors to enter this fascinating place freshly and comfortably.

Arugam Bay 7He also suggested that the accommodation facilities in the area which is about 600 rooms currently should be increased to allow more visitors to experience the uniqueness of the location. It is also necessary to improve the sanitation and other facilities while encouraging its people to engage in tourism based industries intending to integrate the tourist, tourism and the local communities. A number of hotels and restaurants including several star grade hotels, boutiques and shops are coming up assuring the future visitors a more comfortable stay.

Arugam Bay 10All communities: Sinhala, Tamil and Muslims now lead quite a peaceful life being rewarded by the defeat of terrorism.  Farming, milk production, fishing and managing guest houses and small scale hotels are major sources of livelihood in the area. In addition many places where surfing boards and other sporting equipments are rented out can be seen.

Arugam Bay 9Tourism in Sri Lanka can be identified as a major focus of the gigantic development process implemented under the guidance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa as prioritized by the Mahinda Chintana, the vision of the present government. Accordingly the Ministry of Economic Development launched the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Strategy 2011 -2016, a five year master plan under the patronage of Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa.

Arugam Bay 11The key objectives to be achieved through the strategy are attracting USD 3000 million as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the country within five years, increasing the tourism related employment from 125, 000 in 2010 to 500,000 by 2016 and expanding tourism based industry and services all island, distributing the economic benefits of tourism to a larger cross section of the society while integrating tourism to the real economy, increasing the Foreign Exchange earnings from USD 500 millions in 2010 to USD 2.75 billion by 2016, contributing towards improving the global trade and economic linkages of Sri Lanka and positioning Sri Lanka as the world’s most treasured island for tourism. Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, the Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism further noted that the new Tourism Development Strategy provides very comprehensive and precise guidance covering all these objectives in promoting Sri Lanka as the most sought after destination in the world.

Arugam Bay 12The Deputy Minister of Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that the Potuvil Arugam Bay area will be subjected to further development in accordance with the Tourism Development Strategy 2011 -2016. After inspecting the area, the Deputy Minister observed that measures will be taken to improve the sanitary facilities and increase the number of rooms from 600 to 1200. Special attention will be paid towards creating an environment conducive for tourism in Arugam Bay.

Arugam Bay 13With a view to imparting a formal training and knowledge to the hoteliers and the other stakeholders engaged in tourism related industries in the area workshops and awareness raising programs are being conducted. The efforts of and the commitment showed by the Chairman, Mr. Nalaka Godahewa and the staff of the Sri Lanka tourism in this process is quite impressive and should be acknowledged.
 Arugam Bay with its alluring sands, exciting waves, exclusive heritage sites and geographical facets glistening in the bright sunlight would prove a major attribute in achieving the development goals of Sri Lanka by 2016.

Saumya Samaranayake
Sakunthala Jayawardena
Pics: Sujith Kodithuwakku and D.M
Video: courtesy – Asela Chandana
- C. W. Chandana
Special thanks – Tourism Promotion Bureau

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