Arugam Bay Something for Everyone

We are finally in the village of Arugam Bay. There are no real luxury hotels in the town, but that’s a part of the charm and some would say an opportunity waiting to be seized. It’s a big long weekend on the island and many city folk will descend on ABay to party. The tourists also come from around the world

Arugam Bay is the most popular tourist destination in the east of Sri Lanka and is a premier surfing and chill location for the young at heart. For me, it is a good three-day visit only, but I don’t surf, sunbathe or spend much time on beaches. Oh yes, I’m over fifty years old and don’t want to wrinkle.  

Berlitz Pocket Guide covers “Abay” in only 65 words. I have spent a week in the area and made about ten short visits to this hippie-style location .

We set off at seven a.m. from Colombo and expect a six-hour journey to the ABay. It would, however be a couple of hours longer across the west to east of the country.  We get on the expressway heading south till it finishes, then a short dual-carriageway. Then a fast empty road, all with changing scenery from arid areas, then a green lush landscape with lakes. With the changes come the herds of goats, then buffaloes walking in the water, and  lots of thin white cattle in the middle of nowhere. This part of the road is so straight,  the trees are planted in uniform spaces to create a guard of honour for the traveller. It reminds me of France with rows of plantanes [ trees ] said to give assistance to Napoleon’s troops moving in different weather conditions. These trees today are thought to be responsible for one in eight road accidents in France.

We are finally in the village of Arugam Bay. There are no real luxury hotels in the town, but that’s a part of the charm and some would say an opportunity waiting to be seized. It’s a big long weekend on the island and many city folk will descend on ABay to party. The tourists also come from around the world, it’s common to see lots of Israelis who have just completed some military service and time to surf. They like  the surf, beaches,  the low cost of living, laid back style, with few rules and not a policeman in sight.

The first time I was here was two weeks before the Tsunami in December 2004, and I recall staying at Stardust Hotel and canoeing along the river. Sadly, the hotel and the town were hit quite hard by the Tsunami, both losing lives.

The town is now a thriving tourist location in the surfing season.

Look out for the red British telephone box, ask for Fred, in the building behind. You will get the whole history of the town from wartime to the latest locations and things to do locally. I have had the opportunity to launch two of my books in the town. At the allotted time to start, I had about ten people at the book launch. One hour later, there were fifty hitting over eighty. Everyone is laid back, even the people who live there. It appeared that unbeknown to me, at my book launch, was a Russian female karaoke performer and  a fully tattooed character was also strutting his  stuff. Welcome to Abay! I had catered for forty people. The night goes on, and I find myself as the impromptu conga player  in an ad-hoc band till the early hours of the morning, playing with a bunch of strangers . 

The next day we have the opportunity to visit Kumana National Park, but I’m keener to enjoy some of the sea views and visit a few nearby temples than visit a bird sanctuary. It’s also about thirty kilometres from the hotel, my beach is in front of me, and my first temple, which is dated as 2nd BC, is 4 kilometres away. The location is on a very wide beach, and its history is linked to Princess Devi being washed up at the location and a temple being built. This is one of a few locations around Sri Lanka  of such incidents . 

Jezzabel, the wife, finds some friends who are staying nearby in another hotel, and they take a jeep and head to the park. Jokingly, on their return, I make a jibe about “How were the birds?” I’m bombarded with how great their safari was. This included sightings of two different leopards, an elephant charging their jeep, and many other non-bird species.

There are always some new openings, bars, restaurants, shops and hotels to try on the strip at Abay. On our next trip, we are taking some foreign foodie nuts who want to have cooking lessons. I may take some of my wines and do some imaginary pairing.  

One thing we never say is, “It is the off-season.“  It’s true that there is the surfing season between May to September, the shoulder months however have good weather and then the wettish so-called monsoon season. This is when Abay is at its quietest. There may not be the hustle and bustle, and some shops could be closed, but it’s still worth putting on your tour of this amazing island if you have the time.

Source:
https://www.dailymirror.lk/print/life/Arugam-Bay-Something-for-Everyone/243-286523

Sri Lanka to launch marine tourism .. Arugam Bay 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will launch a campaign to promote Trincomalee and Arugam Bay as part of efforts to promote marine tourism and attract higher spending tourists, Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said.

“We will do a marine tourism launch in August,” Minister Fernando told reporters at the Presidential Media Centre Monday.

“We will take Trincomalee to the world as a brand. Arugam Bay is a brand.”

“We will focus on deep-sea diving in Arugam Bay and Trincomalee as a form of bringing Marine Tourism in the country.”

Trincomalee and Arugam Bay in the island’s Eastern Coast has sunny weather around August, as the beach tourism hotspots in the South and Western coasts are struck by Moonsoon rain.

Sri Lanka expects 2.3 million tourists for the year 2024 while striving to attract high-end tourists.

“Currently our average spender is 180 dollars but we are looking to attracting 30 percent or 20 percent of our arrivals to spend up to 300 to 400 dollars next year,” Fernando said.

Fernando said that Sri Lanka has regional competitors in the tourism industry such as Maldives, Thailand and Singapore.

In order to secure more foreign tourists, Fernando said that Sri Lanka needs to develop its water sports industry.

“We have an ocean all around us but we don’t have a single yacht. We have catamarans, people should invest in these,” Fernando said. “That’s why we want to do deep sea diving. Deep sea diving is an expensive sport.”

In May, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau said that Sri Lanka will host a water festival in Trincomalee, ArugamBay and Kalpitiya in order to draw attention to Sri Lanka’s capacity for water sports. (Colombo/Jun24/2024)

Sri Lanka to implement visa free policy to boost tourism: Harin 

  • Says robust, transparent visa policy will promote tourism; facilitate hassle-free travel
  • Committee led by Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake entrusted to recommend well-coordinated framework in implementing National Visa Policy
  • Confirms over 990,000 tourists visited 
  • Sri Lanka in 2024 so far
  • Outlines plan to increase average tourist expenditure from $ 180 at present to 
  • $ 400 per visitor next year
  • Asserts five global promotional campaigns in China, Japan, India and Europe
  • Reveals a ‘must visit’ initiative underway to promote Sri Lanka’s unique attractions
  • Affirms all set to launch maritime tourism strategy in August transforming Trincomalee and Arugam Bay into maritime activity hubs

Tourism Minister Harin Fernando yesterday anno-unced that the report on the process of granting visa-free status for select countries will soon be presented to the Cabinet for approval.

Last month, the Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal tabled by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to establish an Inter-Ministerial Secretaries Committee tasked with addressing the concerns surrounding the visa system and delivering recommendations within a month.

Blue Flag Beach (AbaY)?

Arugam Info file photo

Colombo, April 19 (Daily Mirror)- Steps are being taken to obtain the official certification of ‘Blue Flag Beaches’ for Unawatuna, Bentota, Pasikuda and
Arugam Bay
the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) said.

This was revealed during a recent meeting of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development chaired by MP Ajith Mannapperuma.

It was revealed that twenty-eight beaches which have more tourist attraction have been selected for the ‘Blue Flag Beaches’ certification and that 33 criteria need to be fulfilled for this certification.

The Chairman pointed out that India, which started the initiative even after Sri Lanka, had already obtained ‘Blue Flag Beaches’ certification for eight beaches, whereas Sri Lanka is yet to commence the project which was initiated by him as the State Minister of Environment.

The Chairman stressed the need to expedite the project in coordination with the relevant institutions.

The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognized voluntary awards for beaches, marinas and sustainable tourism boats.

Source:

https://www.dailymirror.lk/worldnews/breaking-news/Plans-afoot-to-obtain-%E2%80%99Blue-Flag-Beaches%E2%80%99-certification-for-Sri-Lankan-beaches/108-281021

Useful, Direct Links!

Looking for specialized Information?
You are in Luck.


Arugam Bay has many great sites, pages and links to suit everyone.
Below is a selection of some of the most poplar ones:

Main Facebook Page Arugam Surf (130,000 members):
www.facebook.com/aragum
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History Page of Old Arugam:
http://www.facebook.com/oldarugam
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Shops, Opportunities in AbaY:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/arugam
************************************************
FB Page about the Beauty of Arugam Bay:
https://www.facebook.com/LovelyArugamBay/
*************************************************
Arugam Bay Beer Company:
https://www.facebook.com/ArugamBayBeer/
************************************************
AbaY Surf Point Apartment and Retirement home project:
https://www.facebook.com/surfpointproject/
************************************************
Original AbaY Hostel (formerly YMCA):
https://www.facebook.com/ArugamHostel/
*************************************************
The Old Siam View Hotel:
https://www.facebook.com/SVHAbaY/
*************************************************
Living in the AbaY area Group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/abayarea
**************************************************
AbaY Surf Club page:
https://www.facebook.com/ArugamBaySurfClub
***************************************************
AbaY General Page:
https://www.facebook.com/ArugamAbaY
***************************************************
Journey to the East:
https://www.facebook.com/ArugamNihal/
***************************************************

And daily updated WhatsApp Groups are here:

AbaY Main Community Info Group:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/LpzKZUvCnwvLK1Nc5Esr1O
Most Popular What’s App Group:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/LKfcofXDxr44HDsE4N6umJ
Most poplar Taxi / Transport Requests:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/GfxxooqguOeLsZAelLWOAW
Most Popular Food & Restaurant Information:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/JzOVdGIFGF8Jhcd8m8QXKm
Arugam Bay Events calendar:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/KCoiHERR4jDKrWSxYWUpku
AbaY Chat & Humor Group:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/JfzeIkVUVoqI9RgbY2J1eb
AbaY LIVE Reporting (in real time) Group:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/GD8K894fDtQFrUvRmfHMAA
AbaY Surf & Sports News Group:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/J5OTGKvFjNW8FpC7HfaKJm
AbaY Events Planning & Management Group:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/IDFXvTIhkts7xv8TIhHfGU
AbaY Co-working Info Group:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/GqGEKiNEzgLFiQpHgKr1jP




Sri Lanka: The ultimate far East Passover destination

By YANIR BRETTAPRIL 4, 2024 18:05

A few weeks ago, a line for direct flights to Sri Lanka began operating. The island nation located between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea and south of India, has become a very popular destination among Israeli tourists especially in recent years.

So what do you need to know if you are planning a trip with your surfboard and where are the small letters? Is Sri Lanka suitable only for young people or does it also have many attractions and activities for families? To answer these questions, we consulted the expert on tourism in Sri Lanka, Naa Aryeh, on behalf of the FLYEAST tourism group, and compiled everything you need to know about the magical country, just before you book your flight tickets.

How do you get there and what is the difference between the airlines?

As mentioned, direct flights using a chartered flight started recently, but there are several airlines that reach the destination, among them: Fly Dubai, Etihad, Gulf Air and Emirates. If you want to take the surfboard with you from home, you should pay attention to the differences between the companies which are very significant. The airlines in regards to transporting surfboards have different limitations such as different pricing on sizes.

So what are the surfing destinations in Sri Lanka?

Surfing on the island’s beaches is possible throughout the year, but you have to pay attention to the area you want to go to. The southwest coast is recommended in the months of March to November (when the east coast is in the heart of the monsoon season), while surfing on the east coast is recommended in the months of May to September, a period when it is not advisable to spend time on the other side of the island.

On the southeast coast, the town recommended for surfing and very popular among surfers and young people is Arugam Bay. This is a beach that is considered one of the most attractive places for surfing in the world with excellent weather, good waves, surf shops, hostels, restaurants and more. The town is about 350 kilometers from the airport but since the roads in Sri Lanka are not in ideal condition, the travel time is between 7 and 8 hours. To get to Arugam Bay you have to take a taxi or coordinate in advance with a driver who can also take the surfboard.

Not just surfing

Besides surfing, there are many attractions and activities that can also be done on a family trip to Sri Lanka: the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is suitable for a trip for the whole family and the children can also feed the elephants from a bottle. Sigiriya Rock Fortress offers a climb of 1,200 hatches where you can see murals on the way to the top and enjoy an amazing view of the landscape at the end.

It is also possible to take a tour to get to know the way of life of the locals in the Village tour in Hiriwadunna and there is also an option to taste the local food and take a boat trip to the area. Dambulla Caves (Dambulla Cave Temple) which is a beautiful complex declared as a UNESCO site where a large number of Buddha statues can be seen.

Minneriya National Park offers jeep safari tours where you can see a large number of species of elephants, birds and other animals. At the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, you can visit and see how the locals bring an offering to the Buddha.

Another interesting place is the botanical gardens (Royal Botanical Gardens Peradeniya) which contain about 5,000 different species of plants and trees. In the tea factory and plantation you can see the production processes and at the end of the visit you can taste different types of tea. Another fascinating attraction is a train ride to ELLA, to enjoy spectacular views on the way.

Another recommended trip is a trek in the Horton Plains (HORTON PLANE) of about 8 kilometers on a flat route where you can see waterfalls and reach a view point called the end of the world. It is also recommended to take a cruise on the Madu River between mangrove bushes and go to the Yala National Park, the most famous safari in Sri Lanka, where you can see elephants, tigers, wild boars and a wide variety of other animals.

Extract from:
https://www.jpost.com/brandblend/article-795385

New 3 Island Cruise launched

Sail Sri Lanka http://www.sailsrilanka.com/ Introducing a New Regular ferry service Arugam-Basses-Bondives End up on the New “Foreigners Only” Island off Hambantot

S.L. President’s Dream Island only for Foreigners

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/140119/business-times/foreigners-only-island-off-hambantota-80015.html Then: Visit the Great and little Basses reefs & lighthouses! And then cruise onwards To to the almost

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unknown Islands of The Bondives. As from 1st April 2014, cruises leave Arugam Bay every Sunday to arrive at the vibrant port of Feemal on Monday afternoon. The Basses: Great Basses Reef Lighthouse is an offshore lighthouse in the south of Sri Lanka, and it is operated and maintained by the Sri Lanka Navy. It is located on a reef 13 km off the coast of Yala National Park, near Little Basses Reef Lighthouse. It is accessible only by boat. The two Basses lighthouses, ‘Great’ and ‘Little’, are among the most famous offshore lighthouses of Asia.

First Stop: The Basses

The lighthouse was designed by Alexander Gordon and Sir James Nicholas Douglass in 1867. Each block weighs 2 to 3 tons.[1] It withstood the force of the tsunami with only modest damage; it was repaired with assistance from the UK lighthouse authorities Trinity House and TheNorthern Lighthouse Board.

On route to the Bondives

The reef is the site of the Great Basses wreck, an early 18th-century wreck of an Indian ship, carrying a treasureof silver rupees, that was discovered by Arthur C. Clarkeand Mike Wilson in 1961. Great diving opportunities exist here! ********************************************** Sail Onwards to:

Surfing season begins in Arugam Bay


Text and Pic: I.L.M. Rizan, Addalaichenai central Correspondent)

Arugam Bay in Pottuvil in the Ampara district, is now preparing to attract tourists from all over the world for the tourist season.

The surfing season in Arugam Bay starts in April and ends in October as the wind is predominantly offshore making it a paradise for surfers.

Two kilometers inland from Arugam Bay is the scenic Pottuvil lagoon and this too opens up from April.

Dolphin viewing at the Arugam Bay beach also starts in April and ends in October. Migrant birds also fly to nearby Panama during this time adding another attraction in the area and 20 km south of Panama is the village of Okanda that has a popular surfing spot. The health resorts in the area too are are getting ready to welcome the foreign tourists during the upcoming season my refurbishing their properties. The resort owners are hopeful they would get more foreign tourists this year than in previous years. Another attraction that drives to tourists to the area is the fresh seafood which is also found in abundance during the season.

Nearby ancient cultural sites and wildlife parks also bring in many local and foreign tourist to the area.

https://www.sundayobserver.lk/2024/03/31/business/20133/surfing-season-begins-in-arugam-bay/

AbaY is in Full SEASON

Spot on!
Easter Weekend 30 – 31st March 2024

Everyone is most Welcome.
Bring your own Talent, Voice, Instruments, Vibes, Ideas.
Pse do NOT BYO Drinks or food = The SVH is Fully licensed.
And admission is totally FREE
Come and JAM with us!

Support our honoured, special Guest Star:
Jammy Jamie!
(All the way from Bohemia – Czechoslovakia)

https://www.facebook.com/jamie.mcdonnell.58

Uda Walawe Is Dying!

Thoughts for World Wildlife Day

Today is World Wildlife Day

On World Wildlife Day, it is important to remember both the triumphs and the tragedies of conservation in Sri Lanka. One of these is the Uda Walawe National Park, which was established on June 30, 1972 after consistent lobbying by members of the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS), led by its president, Thilo Hoffmann. They had noticed the large number of elephants that visited this place and who needed protection. The Director of Wildlife, the legendary Lyn de Alwis, had come to the same conclusion and strongly supported their cause. Yet, in the 1980s, hardly any wildlife enthusiast would visit the Park. Ease of access was, perhaps, one reason for its lack of popularity; it could take four to five hours of travel from Colombo on roads that were a far cry from the carpeted highways which take you there today.  There was also a dearth of facilities. Unless the two bungalows in the park could be booked or that of the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society on its border, there was just a small, five bedroom guest house and the nearest other accommodation was in Embilipitiya, about 20 kilometres away. Vehicles had to be fueled up at Godakawela or Embilipitiya and the very few shops there were then did not have much except for the most basic of needs.

Then there were the varied descriptions of the place of degraded forests, teak plantations and plains with grasses so high that not even an elephant could be seen above the towering stalks. To cap it all, the elephants were supposed to be either so aggressive or so afraid that the few who would appear in an open space would either fiercely charge on sight or fearfully flee out of it.

As it was: a delightful reality

Hardly a hundred metres in from Park Gate, which was then just by the main road, the track crossed a much frequented elephant trail preferred by groups of young males who had left their natal herds and banded together for safety and company. It was not uncommon to see several of them either feeding on the grasses by the road or jousting in friendly combat to establish their future hierarchy.

Further on the road entered a forest of teak that stretched for a few kilometres along it, and a considerable way into the interior; their bark providing roughage for the elephants. Nothing substantial grows under teak except for grass. During times of drought, these areas provided shade and food for the hundreds of elephants who would seek refuge in the national park; the only substantial area in the region that still had food and water.

“It was late afternoon, in the 1980s, and driving around the edge of the now parched “Wewa Pitta” (Reservoir Bed)…the forest of teak trembled with the sounds and movements of a mammoth throng. The day cooled, out they tumbled, of varying age and size; they either grazed their way, or as with the younger, ran, for the cooling waters of the shrinking reservoir. These were my first sightings of the large herds of elephants for which Uda Walawe is now famous. We counted around 250 of them on that special evening. We stayed noiseless and still. Ours was the only vehicle there. The animals went around us doing what they had done for millennia in that place, just being elephants.” (Extract from Nature, 2012 by the author).

Life from the flames

The magnet for elephants was Uda Walawe’s grasslands; acres and acres of guinea grass that they feasted on at most times of the year and they were generally round and replete. In addition, the retreating waters of the reservoir left behind vast meadows of grasslands so that even in the harshest of droughts, there always was food and water for these beautiful creatures. It was not unusual to see two to three hundred of an evening, grazing in groups along the edge of the waters and then, as the shadows lengthened, cooling off in or slaking their thirst from this vital source of water. There were also far less feral buffalo in the park then.

An unexpected aid to the maintenance of these grasslands came from fire. When the grasses were at their driest at the height of the drought, lightning and other natural factors would set them alight. After the resulting burn, which could cover several acres, any moisture of even a heavy dew and the grasses would regenerate. Poachers would also intentionally set fire to the dry grass. The emerging sprouts attracted deer and other grazers who would be easy prey on the now clear plains. Once patrolling and law enforcement improved, however, the activities of poachers reduced but the necessity for fires, especially if controlled, had become an integral part of the health of the park.

As it is now: an ecological disaster

Most, if not all, of the grasslands have now gone, a legacy of almost two decades of mis-management and neglect. It also shows a lack of understanding that wildlife habitats have to be actively managed. It is now overrun by scrub with the remaining few small herds of elephants eking out a meagre existence from the scarce sprouts that spring between the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) that dominate the park. While the lone males are forced into nighttime raids into neighbouring cultivations, even defying the electric fences in search of adequate sustenance, the females and young suffer much worse. Many are nothing more than walking shadows of wrinkled skin draped over protruding bones as infant mortality rises with mothers not having the necessary nutrition to suckle their babies. What was once a haven for elephants, where a sight of them could be guaranteed at any time of the day, it is now a place of stark existence and possible extinction from this once elephant Eden.

There was a time when the herds of Uda Walawe could move out to adjacent habitats or even further, in search of food, allowing the park’s resources to regenerate and provide for the next season. Alas, many of these elephant ranges have now been encroached into, or blocked, and there is no escape without running the gauntlet of shotguns, trap guns, jaw bombs and thunder flashes.

Unheeded warnings

As far back as 2007 the authorities were warned of an impending disaster if the invasive species were not removed before they spread further, of the importance of reducing the feral buffalo and, most importantly, the significance of having controlled fires for the regeneration of the grasslands. Prior to this, a decision had been made to allow the Forest Department to remove the teak which had been knocked over by elephants when feeding off the bark; an adaptation to living in this unique habitat. Miraculously, most of the teak fell when the clearing was taking place and there are no longer teak forests in Uda Walawe, just invasive scrubland.

At that time, offers were even made to assist the authorities, with no cost to them, to aid with the manual removal of these invasive species as the mechanical methods only encourage their further dispersal. This was refused and the results are now there to be seen.

Instead, especially after someone with power expresses an opinion, they resort to mechanical removal using earth moving equipment, eliminating both the good and the bad, with the roots of the aliens still active in the ground to sprout back up again, sometimes within weeks of clearing. It is a well-known scientific fact that areas that are mechanically cleared of IAS and exposed to direct sunlight creates ideal conditions for them to dominate the aftergrowth as native species find it difficult to compete. Huge amounts of money are spent on this, funds that could be used for essential conservation rather than pandering to the needs of the ignorant, which has destroyed this park.

Of course a committee of researchers and scientists was formed to advise on what to do. However, while it takes an electric saw or a bulldozer just a matter of hours to destroy a natural habitat, nature does not recover as quickly. It may take decades or even centuries to repair even with informed human intervention. Those in authority and their subordinates cannot wait that long. Of course, nothing came of the learned proposals of science. As with many other such they lie on an official shelf gathering dust while the natural world disintegrates in those places the officials are supposed to guard.

As it could be again: There are no quick fixes

If a comprehensive programme of restoration is commenced today, it would take a minimum of 10 years to restore the park, even partially, to what it was before but such a programme is a vital necessity if not only the park, its wildlife and elephants are to be saved but also the local economy of the surrounding communities who are deeply dependent on its healthy existence. In the nearby Lunugamvehera National Park, the Federation of Environmental Organizations (FEO) have been undertaking an IAS removal programme for the past couple of years. FEO engaged in the manual removal of only the invasive species, roots and all, and immediately burnt them. In addition, they would follow this up a few months later and any seedlings that had germinated were treated in the same way. With the rains came the miracle of resurrection as grasses and native species re-colonized these areas attracting not just elephants back to them but deer and other grazers and, in their wake, leopards.

FEO’s efforts were self-funded, by corporate sponsors and concerned citizens. Contrast this with the Department of Wildlife’s (DWC) efforts in the same park, with the aid of World Bank funding. Despite everything they persisted with the mechanical removal of these species and, in a short while, even more of them grew back. It remains a wasteland of alien scrub while indebting the nation to pay back the funds spent on this futile exercise.

The stark reality

The complete lack of positive intervention by the concerned authorities seem to indicate that they have given up on their role as guardians of the wildlife of Sri Lanka and are just letting them be killed or starve to death. Elephant deaths have soared to record levels; an embarrassment to a country that hosts a unique sub-species of the endangered Asian Elephant and leads most of its tourism advertising with pictures of them. Preservation of position and protection of pensions seems to dominate reasoning. There is but one way to do this; pander to the whims and fancies of your political masters.

Rather than the plump, contented herds of elephants that once filled this park with life and purpose, the following is the most likely sight for a discerning visitor to behold:

“A squawking, squabbling murder of crows, accompanied by a less vocal but slavering pack of village curs were all that she had for her funeral wake. However, theirs was not a grieving gathering of those whom she loved, and who loved her in return, but a clamouring throng who had already begun to celebrate her death in an orgy of feasting. Emaciated and starving, wrinkled skin draped over skeletal frame, she still had sufficient meat on her to feed the gluttony of these scavengers, at least for a day or two.  For she was just a few months old!”

If this is not to be re-written for the last elephant of Uda Walawe too, something must be done, and now, or a similar epitaph will have to be penned for the local economy and communities.

Sri Lanka’s Visa….

……Crackdown on Russian and Ukrainian Tourists Sparks Controversy and Investigation

Discover the growing controversy in Sri Lanka as the government takes action against Russian and Ukrainian tourists involved in illegal businesses. President Wickremesinghe orders an investigation into the directive, balancing law enforcement with diplomatic considerations.

In an unexpected move that has stirred both national and international attention, the Sri Lankan government finds itself at the center of a growing controversy. Following a report by the Daily Mirror on the burgeoning involvement of Russian and Ukrainian tourists in unregistered and illegal businesses, the Department of Immigration and Emigration acted swiftly, issuing a directive for all long-term visitors from these countries to exit Sri Lanka by March 7, 2024. This directive, aimed at curbing the alleged exploitation of tourist visas for illicit activities, particularly in popular tourist destinations such as Weligama and Arugam Bay, has prompted President Ranil Wickremesinghe to order an immediate and thorough investigation into its issuance without cabinet approval.

The Heart of the Matter: Visa Extensions and Unregistered Businesses

The core issue stems from allegations that some Russian and Ukrainian tourists have been abusing the hospitality of Sri Lanka by engaging in unregistered businesses, bypassing tax obligations, and excluding local stakeholders from economic opportunities. Initially, in a gesture of goodwill amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Sri Lanka had extended visas to affected tourists free of charge. However, with the normalization of travel and the resumption of direct flights, the government reevaluated the necessity of these extended visas, only to uncover a web of illegal activities that necessitated a retraction of this leniency.

A Delicate Balance: Tourism and Diplomacy

The decision to revoke visa extensions and demand the departure of long-staying tourists from these two nations is not without its complications. Russia remains a significant market for Sri Lankan tourism, a sector that the island nation heavily relies on for economic recovery and growth. The government is now faced with the delicate task of addressing illegal activities and ensuring compliance with local laws, without alienating a key demographic of tourists or straining diplomatic relations with Russia. The investigation ordered by President Wickremesinghe into the unilateral action taken by the Immigration Department underscores the careful approach the government intends to take, seeking solutions that balance law enforcement with economic and diplomatic considerations.

Looking Ahead: Implications and Expectations

As the investigation unfolds, stakeholders from various sectors are keenly watching to see how Sri Lanka navigates this complex issue. The outcome could set precedents for how the country manages its visa policies and deals with illegal businesses run by foreigners, all while maintaining its appeal as a tourist destination and its relationships with other nations. The Sri Lankan government’s response to this challenge will likely influence future policy decisions and the country’s reputation on the global stage.

The controversy surrounding the directive and the subsequent investigation highlights a broader challenge facing many tourist-dependent economies: how to welcome visitors and their economic contributions without compromising on legal and ethical standards. As Sri Lanka works through this quandary, the lessons learned could provide valuable insights for other nations grappling with similar issues.

Source:
https://bnnbreaking.com/world/russia/sri-lankas-visa-crackdown-on-russian-and-ukrainian-tourists-sparks-controversy-and-investigation

Skate Boarding – in AbaY?

Manu Dharmaraja: the Skate for Sri Lanka story

Words: Jonathan Frank

Surfing is the most popular form of extreme sport in Sri Lanka. Thanks to the country’s ideal, year-round waves, small fishing hamlets like Ahangama, Midigama, Weligama, Mirissa, Polhena and Arugam Bay have transformed into tourist hotspots frequented by surfers from all parts of the globe.

And just like skateboarding’s genesis in California surf scene in the late 1950s, skating in Sri Lanka is slowly emerging out of the Down South surfing community. If you visit Ahangama, Midigma and Polhena today, you’d find skatebowls and half-pipes at hotels, hostels and restaurants.

Although skating had a local presence before its advent Down South, most skateboarding happened around Colombo and skaters didn’t have proper infrastructure like ramps and half-pipes etc. Given the lack of space and proper equipment, the few loose skating communities in and around Colombo faded out as quickly as they came.

Manu Dharmaraja is an extreme sportsman, model and master of ceremonies who have been a part of the Colombo skate scene during its tiny emergence in the 2010s and the Down South surfing and skating scenes. Manu started Skate for Sri Lanka right before Covid as a mission to popularise skating among local youth, especially those from underprivileged communities.

For instance, in Arugam Bay, this cop was like, “Oh, but if you’re skating on the road, if something happens to you, like a car hit you. What do I do about it?” Maybe they’re concerned in that manner. But like at the end of the day, it’s my decision, you know. If I choose to do this and because there’s no actual safe place for us to skate, you know, we’ll keep doing it here. Skateboarders are adrenaline seekers at the end of the day

Read more – follow the link below:
https://www.sundayobserver.lk/2024/01/28/youth-observer/14945/manu-dharmaraja-the-skate-for-sri-lanka-story-2/

26th. December

Today we remember events dating back 19 years.
When the 2004 Tsunami hit Arugam Bay very hard.

Arugam Bay (the Movie)

The international premiere of the inspiring film Arugam Bay, which explores the unbreakable bond among a group of IDF veterans healing through the sport of surfing.
Takes place in Miami / USA.
The Movie was filmed in Arugam Bay.
(before the current crisis & war!)



The major event will take place at The Miami Jewish Film Festival (MJFF) proudly presents the program for its upcoming 27th edition, a dynamic hybrid of virtual and live events featuring 120 films. Running from January 11-25, 2024, the festival will showcase 94 feature films and 26 shorts from 25 countries, including 10 world premieres, 10 international premieres, 12 North American premieres, and 7 US premieres.

Notably, 41 films (34% of the total program) are directed by women, with 40 first-time feature filmmakers.

source:
https://communitynewspapers.com/coral-gables-news/the-2024-festival-program-is-here-americas-largest-jewish-film-festival/

AbaY = Open All-Year- Round !

Arugam Bay.
The weather Wonder of Asia

Our remote, South/South Eastern Resort is a true All Year Round Destination.

The weather is unique,
Swimming is fine at all times; there are no dangerous currents.
In the Winter our wild Life is amazing, Kumana National Park is nearby
The population mainly speaks TAMIL (& English).
Indian/ Tamil Nadu Visitors will feel specially welcome!
Below are some of our areas most loyal Establishments, pledged to remain open 12 months / year:

Establishments who remain open all year:

1.) Way of the Bay
2.) AZURE Swim Store
3.) Riva de Sole
4.) GECKO
5.) Paddyway Resort & Restaurant
6.) Hideaway Resort
7.) Oasis Bay
8.) Wateredge Hotel
9.) Beach Wave
10.) Whisky Point Resort
11.) Atteriya Chill
12.) Sand Dune Beach Villa
13.) East Surf Cabanas
14.) Spice Trail (incl. Kaffi, LBK)
15.) Sandy Beach
16.) Hakuna Matata
17.) Popoyo Surf Resort
18.) Bay Vista Hotel & Restaurant
19.) Cresent Bay
20.) Oruwa Boutique Villa
21.) Surf & Sand Hotel
22.) Rams Resort
23.) Oceano Beach Villa
24.) Another World
25.) Surfers Park
26.) Star Rest Beach Hotel
27.) Flymoon Hotel
28.) Lazy Bay Surf Camp
29.) Sweet Home Villa
30.) Hotel Alaskabay
31.) The Surf Access Guest House
32.) Mermaids Village Restaurant
33.) Dream Garden Resort
34.) Shim Beach Resort
35.) Comfort Beach Hotel
36.) Cili Pizza and Room
37.) Sunset View Beach Hotel
38.)Beach Cab Resort
39.) Surf Beach Hotel
40.) Happy Bay Guest House
41.) Zimbay Guest House
42.) Family House
43.) Tropicana Home Stay
44.) PIZZA Hub & Dosa Station!
45.) Clear Point Super Market
46.) Arne’s Place
47.) Blue Wave Hotel
48.) SVH Thai Restaurant
49.) Arugam Bay Hostel
50.) Siam View Brew Pub

Plus some of the additions we received after the initial deadline:
51.) Danish Villa
52.) Artist Village
53.) m. Meena local Bar

Use Google Maps to look up and locate any of the above Places
Prices, Photos and Reviews are shown and will assist you to chose the Best for you.

Exploring Arugam Bay: A Paradise for Beach Lovers

Arugam Bay, a beautiful coastal town located on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, has gained popularity as one of the most sought-after beach destinations in recent years. With its pristine golden beaches, excellent surfing conditions, and rich cultural heritage, Arugam Bay is a traveler’s paradise. This article delves into the allure of Arugam Bay, highlighting its natural beauty, exciting activities, and vibrant local culture.

Unspoiled Beaches and Crystal Clear Waters

Arugam Bay is known for its breathtaking beaches that stretch for miles. The main beach in the town offers a lively atmosphere with beachside bars, restaurants, and surf schools. If you prefer a more tranquil setting, head to Crocodile Rock or Peanut Farm beach, where you can relax in the shade of the swaying palm trees.

One of the main attractions of Arugam Bay is its crystal clear waters, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The underwater world is teeming with colorful corals, tropical fish, and even turtles. Whether you’re an experienced diver or a novice, there are numerous diving centers that offer lessons and guided tours for all levels.

A Surfer’s Mecca

Arugam Bay is renowned for its world-class surfing conditions, attracting surfers from all over the globe. With consistent waves that can reach up to 10 feet high, it’s no wonder that this destination has become a mecca for avid surfers.

The main surf point, known as Main Point, offers challenging waves suitable for experienced surfers. If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of surf schools around the area that provide lessons and equipment rental. Whiskey Point and Elephant Rock are also popular surf spots that cater to surfers of all levels.

Discovering Local Culture

While Arugam Bay is primarily known for its natural beauty and water sports, the town also offers a rich cultural experience. Take a trip to nearby Pottuvil, where you can explore ancient Buddhist temples, witness traditional ceremonies, or even try your hand at traditional handicrafts.

Additionally, don’t miss out on the delicious local cuisine. From spicy curries to fresh seafood, Arugam Bay offers a wide variety of culinary delights that will tantalize your taste buds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is the best time to visit Arugam Bay?
  2. Is Arugam Bay suitable for families?
  3. Are there accommodations available in Arugam Bay?
  4. Can I rent surfing equipment in Arugam Bay?
  5. What other activities can I do besides surfing?

Arugam Bay offers a magical experience for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Its unspoiled beaches, thrilling waves, and rich cultural heritage make it a destination worth exploring. So pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of Arugam Bay.

Sources:
– [Sri Lanka Tourism](https://www.srilanka.travel/)
– [Arugam Bay Tourism](https://www.arugambay.lk/)

Photo:
www.arugam.info (file photo)

source:
https://www.energyportal.eu/

Property/ Investments

Real estate is alive and well on Sri Lanka……….

Friday, 24th November 2023
Source : Bill Barnett
Last week, I made my first post-pandemic trip back to Sri Lanka, the trip was to look at the latest trends in the property and tourism sectors.
The country remains a personal favorite, despite its many up and downs over the past 30 or so years.
There is little doubt the prolonged political crisis has spurred an outbound migration of many talented hospitality professionals and entrepreneurs.
With elections coming next year, the path forward is unknown. But there is a mounting return of tourists especially to the Southern Coast.
I met up with longtime tourism personality Jack Eden who runs the respected Eden Villas out of Galle. For luxury rentals, 2023 has seen sustained demand in the South. Some of the notable markets are Europe, Russia, and the Middle East.
While viewing the upcoming winter season through March, many properties are booked out.
While Russians have yet to be major property developers, they are renting and becoming a strong long-stay market. Sri Lanka now has pushed out the 30-day visas for Russians to 180 days (6 months). Another option is a one-year business visa.
The South Beach areas are becoming popular for small-scale investment for Eastern Europeans especially Hikkaduwa and emerging areas past Galle.
Walking around Galle Fort, the vibe has continued to improve, and even some new boutique hotels such as The Charleston. Some old icons such as Sun House in the hills above Galle are just reopening under new management.
A new band of part-time and full-time overseas residents is now growing from Unawatuna through Ahangama to Welligama. These are not only Russians but a wide variety of nationalities. Heading further to Hiriketiya and beyond is seeing new investors in the area.
I was able to meet up with Lanka Real Estate’s Buddhima Perera to talk about luxury villa sales. There have been a few notable trades along the coast at the USD5 million dollar level.

Some investors are now looking past the South to the
East Coast to Arugam Bay and more remote areas.
These are no longer just about seasonal surf but about nature and long endless beaches.

While Sri Lanka’s risk profile for investment has some uncertainty, where in the world does not these days? The visa regime of business and retirement visas is positive, despite high bank interest rates.
For those looking for an amazing place under the sun in Asia, Sri Lanka’s South Coast remains a strong contender. If you haven’t visited lately, my advice is to get there soon.
Bill Barnett, Hospitality & Real Estate Advisor / Tech Entrepreneur / Sustainability Advocate / Writer & Managing Director, C9 Hotelworks Company Limited 9 Lagoon Road, Cherngtalay, Thalang, Phuket, 83110, Thailand (Office located at the entrance of Laguna Phuket) T: +66 (0)76 271 535 / F: +66 (0)76 271 536
source:
https://www.4hoteliers.com/news/story/24035