SLTB Pottuvil Depot upgraded

Masses appreciate Minister’s endeavour

New Direct to / from Airport Luxury Bus service (Arugam Bay) promised!

The upgrading of the SLTB Pottuvil sub-depot, which has been operating under the Akkaraipattu Depot since 2005, into a main depot was initiated by Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana yesterday.

A large crowd was present to witness the occasion and appreciate the Ministers’ initiative to upgrade the SLTB Pottuvil sub-depot to a main depot, which was a long felt need.

The aim of this project is to further streamline and expand public passenger transport services by coordinating the Pottuvil and Arugambay tourism zones.

At a cost of Rs. 60 million, the construction work is to be done by the State Development and Construction Corporation operating under the Ministry of Transport and Highways.


Beautiful Places To Visit In Sri Lanka

From pristine beaches to rich cultural and archaeological wonders, these are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka.


Arugam Bay

Prime surfer territory Arugam Bay is enticed with its laid-back vibe and magnificent surf.
It’s no surprise that during the surfing season, it transforms into a party town.
During the low-season, the town is a lot more mellow but is still lovely to explore.
Head to the southern end of the beach overrun with colourful wooden fishing boats and watch the fisher folk bring in their catch.
For the best view of the palm-fringed coastline climb up Elephant Rock.

Above is an extract from a larger Article:

5 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

Published on November 12, 2023

Sri Lanka, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” is a mesmerizing island nation that boasts a rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality. From ancient temples to pristine beaches, Sri Lanka offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers seeking adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion. Here are five must-try activities that will make your visit to Sri Lanka, especially if you are considering Sri Lanka Tour Packages From Ahmedabad, an unforgettable journey.

Explore the Cultural Triangle:

As you embark on your Sri Lanka tour packages from Ahmedabad or Bangalore, the Cultural Triangle beckons with its historical treasures. Discover ancient cities like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and the iconic Sigiriya rock fortress. Anuradhapura boasts well-preserved ruins, including ancient monasteries and a sacred Bodhi tree. Polonnaruwa, with its Gal Vihara and intricately carved Buddha statues, showcases the island’s rich heritage. Don’t miss the ascent to the top of Sigiriya for panoramic views and captivating frescoes.

Safari in Yala National Park:

Nature enthusiasts will find Yala National Park to be a highlight of their Sri Lanka tour. Whether you’re starting a  Bangalore to Sri Lanka trip , a safari in Yala promises encounters with Sri Lanka’s diverse wildlife, including the elusive Sri Lankan leopard. Witness elephants, sloth bears, crocodiles, and an array of bird species in their natural habitat. Both morning and evening safaris offer unique perspectives on the park’s vibrant ecosystems.

Relax on Unspoiled Beaches:

No Sri Lanka tour is complete without indulging in the serenity of its pristine beaches. Whether you’re arriving from Bangalore or Ahmedabad, the golden shores of Bentota and the laid-back atmosphere of Mirissa await. Tangalle and
Arugam Bay offer secluded escapes, providing the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure.
Arugam Bay, a surfer’s paradise on the eastern coast, invites travelers to experience its vibrant surf culture

Tea Plantation Tour in Nuwara Eliya:

Transitioning from the tropical climate of Sri Lanka to the cool hills of Nuwara Eliya is a unique aspect of your journey, especially if you’re starting from Bangalore or Ahmedabad. Take a guided tour of a tea estate to learn about the art of tea production, surrounded by the picturesque landscapes of “Little England.” The misty weather, manicured tea gardens, and the chance to savor freshly brewed Ceylon tea make this experience truly special.

Visit the Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy:

Your Sri Lanka tour packages from Ahmedabad or Bangalore should include a visit to the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. Nestled amidst hills and tea plantations, this temple houses a revered relic believed to be the tooth of Lord Buddha. Attend the evening ‘Puja’ ritual, where the relic is adorned with flowers and offerings, and immerse yourself in the cultural significance of this spiritual site.

In conclusion, as you plan your journey from Bangalore to Sri Lanka or opt for Sri Lanka tour packages from Ahmedabad, the island nation unfolds a tapestry of experiences. Whether exploring ancient ruins, encountering wildlife, lounging on pristine beaches, sipping tea in the highlands, or partaking in spiritual rituals, Sri Lanka promises a diverse and enriching adventure for every traveler.


Sri Lanka waives visa fees

By XU WEIWEI in Hong Kong and ARUNAVA DAS in Kolkata, India | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-11-02 10:23

Tourists walk on the beach at sunset in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka, on June 8. THILINA KALUTHOTAGE/GETTY IMAGES

Sri Lanka is set on the path of recovery by attracting more tourists, especially from Asia and Europe, after the authorities announced that visa-free entry will be issued to nationals from seven countries, said officials and industry insiders.

Currently, many Asian tourist destinations are vying with each other to revive their tourism industries, which had been battered by COVID-19, said Sumit Batabyal, director of the Kolkata-based Wandervogel Tours and Travels.

He said policy measures such as the visa-free entry “will certainly go a long way in bringing more revenue” for Sri Lanka, which is grappling with an “acute financial crisis”.

This year, its tourism industry aims to attract 2 million visitors, up from the previous target of 1.5 million.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet last week also approved a proposal to offer free visas for nationals from seven countries, according to Minister for Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando.

The plan, which will benefit tourists from India, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand, is a pilot project that will end on March 31 next year, he said on X, formerly Twitter.

Priantha Fernando, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, said the nation had just exceeded 1.1 million tourist arrivals in the first 10 months of 2023.

For Europe, the traditional markets have been the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

Priantha Fernando said the visa-free exemption plan is expected to increase arrivals from the three major markets “by 12 to 15 percent”.

“What we are trying to do is to start to experiment … to see how best we can increase the numbers from those markets,” he said.

‘Great stimulus’

He expressed his wish to see more Chinese tourists. “With Sri Lanka being listed among the 20 countries for Chinese travel, we plan to take advantage and increase the operations of air services between the countries.”

Rajiv Mehra, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, or IATO, described the timely move as “fantastic”.

“The waiver of visa fees will certainly serve as a great stimulus for tourists from India to Sri Lanka,” he said.

Priantha Fernando said Sri Lanka has it all within 65,000 square kilometers — sea, sun and sand, nature, wildlife, heritage, culture, wellness, marine tourism and friendly people.

“Sri Lanka is also a great place for adventure lovers, not only from India but also from around the world,” said Mehra, who is also the director of New Delhi-headquartered Uday Tours& Travel.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Arunava Das is a freelance journalist for China Daily.

Israel Visitors depart

Arugam Bay has always been very popular with Visitors, surfers and party people from Israel.
As soon as news of the Middle Eastern Conflict were received almost every single affected person packed up.
And made arrangements to return home, With Immediate Effect.
In an amazing show of solidarity, for the support of their Nation and family hundreds left towards the airport in chartered buses.
All of a sudden the resort is quiet. And only a few are out to catch the still existing waves.
Below is an extract from a local newspaper on this matter:

In Sri Lanka, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana Wickramaratne has issued instructions to all police stations and to the Tourist Police Division to identify hotels, guest houses and other accommodation where Israeli citizens are lodged and provide necessary security for them. There are currently about 12, 000 Israelis in Sri Lanka according to information provided by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), an officer from the Tourist Police Division said.

So far, there has only been one incident of harassment of Israeli tourists directly linked to the hostile environment created by the conflict. In Arugam Bay, two female Israeli tourists had allegedly been verbally abused by a man who had threatened them and demanded they leave Sri Lanka. He was arrested and produced in court following a complaint lodged by the tourists. Police said the Sri Lankan man had been under the influence of liquor.

Such incidents and a prolonged conflict could have terrible consequences for those who rely on tourism from Israel. Manjula Prasad, who has been working with Israeli tourists visiting Sri Lanka for 14 years, said the incident at Arugam Bay was posted on a Facebook and WhatsApp group for Israelis in Sri Lanka that had over 28, 000 members. The group consists of those who have visited Sri Lanka or are already here. “Israelis in Arugam Bay were advised to leave immediately after the incident and we know that many packed up and moved to the southern coast,” he claimed. Mr Prasad said it was essential that authorities treat such incidents seriously and take action to assure the safety of Israeli tourists.

He said the war could not have come at a worse time for tourism from Israel given that it has increased significantly in recent times. “I wasn’t home most of this year because I was taking Israeli tourists around the country. But since last Saturday, I have had seven upcoming tours cancelled. The situation is the same for everyone else taking Israeli tourists.”

According to the SLTDA, 9326 Israelis visited the country last year. By September this year however, that number had already doubled to 18, 449. There was potential for an increase in numbers due to the start of direct flights between Tel Aviv and Colombo this year.
Israel’s Arkia Airlines is due to start direct flights between Israel and Sri Lanka from October 31. “The airline told me that they had over 8000 bookings from Israelis from October 31 up to March. Most of them likely won’t come now as they would be on the battlefield,” said Ambassador Nimal Bandara.

Urgent Need for Arugam Bay Tourism Development Strategy

 A meeting was convened at the Presidential Secretariat to discuss the Arugam Bay Tourism Development Plan, which has the potential to significantly contribute to Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of the Presidential Staff, chaired the meeting.

During the discussion, the issues identified in the initial meeting led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the steps taken to address them were thoroughly examined.

The focus was on the challenges related to infrastructure development in the area and the obstacles hindering the growth of the tourism sector. Participants from various organizations also discussed how each institution could contribute to finding solutions to these challenges.

Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka presented the main tourism plan for Arugam Bay, prepared by the Urban Development Authority (UDA). Additionally, a three-year tourism development plan will be presented to the president for consideration.

It was agreed that a follow-up meeting would be held in a month to assess the progress of these initiatives. Those in attendance included Member of Parliament D. Weerasinghe, IGP C. D. Wickramaratne, Ampara District Secretary Chinthaka Abeywickrama, and heads of relevant organizations.


The Best to work as a digital nomad

Globally is Sri Lanka!

This is the cheapest country to work as a digital nomad

Photo taken in front of the AbaY Digital Nomads High Speeds Co-working Center (Est. 2001)

While working on serene beaches or by tranquil pools was once a dream for many, it’s now very much a reality.

Working remotely is surging in popularity and, as a result, a growing number of countries are now offering digital nomad visas to entice people over.

For those not clued-up, these particular visas allow remote workers to live and work in that country for a specified period, while being employed and earning an income from a business based outside of that country.

And new research has analysed the cost of living in the countries offering these visas, to reveal the best for remote workers to get the most out of their earnings.

So, if you’re considering packing up and working elsewhere, there are certain cheaper spots that should be on your radar.

According to the Digital Nomad Rich List created by Flamingo App, Sri Lanka is the country where your money will go furthest.

Based on the average UK salary, the data found that cost of living in Sri Lanka comes to just £492 per month (on rent, food, transport and utility bills), so the average Brit is expected to pocket around £2,282 of disposable income.

Argentina, Colombia & North Macedonia, Indonesia and Malaysia also ranked within the top five cheapest countries for digital nomads – according to this report.

Cheapest places to live as digital nomad, according to Flamingo App:

  1. Sri Lanka
  2. Argentina
  3. Colombia & North Macedonia
  4. Indonesia
  5. Malaysia

High speeds (200Mbps), UPS, Generators, Air Conditioning, attached Bathrooms, Membership options:
All at the Old, Original AbaY Nomads Nonworking Centre (WhatsApp +94702042271)

However, the most expensive countries to work remotely in were also named, with Bermuda scooping the top spot, followed by the Cayman Islands and Iceland. The UK also placed eighth on the most expensive list.

David Hehenberger, the founder of Flamingo App, said: ‘The findings of our Digital Nomad Rich List are eye-opening, highlighting that the average Brit can increase their disposable income by choosing to work remotely from over 40 countries, freeing up financial and mental space to explore and enjoy life. If you can work from anywhere, why not pick a place that enhances your life?

‘Whether it’s the warm beaches of Indonesia, the cultural hubs of Argentina, or the natural beauty of Sri Lanka.

‘Remote work doesn’t have to be confined to our familiar surroundings; it can be the gateway to global experiences, cultural immersion, and financial empowerment. The world is your office.’

Most expensive place to work as digital nomad, according to Flamingo App:

  1. Bermuda
  2. Cayman Islands
  3. Iceland
  4. The Bahamas
  5. Norway

The photos in the original article are copy sadly protected.
And have been replaced with our own freeware.


Sun directly overhead of AbaY & PottuVille at 12.09 noon today (05)

On the apparent southward relative motion of the sun, it is going to be directly over the latitudes of Sri Lanka during 28th of August to 07th of September in this year (2023).

The nearest towns of Sri Lanka over which the sun is overhead tomorrow are Bambalapitiya, Maliboda, Keppetipola, Badalkumbura and Pottuvil about 12.09 noon.

Israel-Sri Lanka ties with a direct flight

My recent taste of Sri Lanka has not only stirred up some happy childhood memories but also reignited my desire to visit this magnificent country.


Published: SEPTEMBER 1, 2023 09:40

One of my earliest childhood memories is of preparing a school project about a country that we’d love to visit, which, for me, was Sri Lanka

Although life there seemed far removed from the Manchester Jewish bubble in which I lived, to me, Sri Lanka represented paradise.

I was fascinated by this teardrop-shaped island in the Indian Ocean with its rich history, dating back 3,000 years, its tropical climate, and its wonderfully varied wildlife.

Sadly, the opportunity to visit Sri Lanka never arose. Not for me the globe-trotting gap year that many of my contemporaries enjoyed, during which a trip to Sri Lanka was the highlight. I watched with envy as they went off on their adventures, instead, having to make do with a postcard, which of course only heightened my desire to go there.

As the years wore on and I started work as a lawyer, before marrying and having children, travel became something that others enjoyed. I’d happily spend an hour or so in my lunch break, flicking through friends’ holiday snaps, but for me, that was the extent of it.

Having made aliyah some years ago, and settled on the shores of the Mediterranean in Netanya, my travel bug dissipated somewhat. But Sri Lanka always held a special place in my heart. This is why I was delighted to be included on the guest list for a dinner at the Sri Lanka Ambassador Nimal Bandara’s home in Herzliya a couple of weeks ago.

Sri Lanka’s history of ties with Israel

SRI LANKA has long enjoyed fruitful, productive relations with Israel, with its embassy being established in Tel Aviv in 2000.

Under an agreement between the two governments, Israel provides job opportunities for Sri Lankan caregivers of whom there are around 7,000 working in Israel at present. Conversely, Israel has given technical support to aid the establishment of a modern agricultural center in Sri Lanka. In addition, training opportunities for Sri Lankan government officials under MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development – have been proposed.

As a further sign of the strengthening of relations between the two countries, Arkia Airlines is scheduled to operate direct flights from Israel to Sri Lanka from October 31. Opening up this direct route between the two countries will, of course, further enhance this well-established relationship from all perspectives.

It will facilitate travel between the two countries for the thousands of Sri Lankan carers who work in Israel, and Israelis, well-known for their love of travel, especially around South Asia, will have easy, affordable, direct access to this beautiful country for the first time.

One of Sri Lanka’s most famous destinations to which surfers from all countries, including Israel, flock in their thousands, is Arugam Bay on the southeast coast of the island. Rated as one of the top 10 surf destinations in the world, Arugam Kudah, as it is known locally, has also hosted most of the international surfing competitions in Sri Lanka since 2004.

A number of Israeli organizations are also promoting surfing trips to this tropical island for people with special needs. 

As well as surfing, visitors to Sri Lanka will have the opportunity to experience firsthand some of the country’s rich cultural and historical values, including astrology, meditation, ayurveda (alternative medicine), dancing, painting, and more.

The highlight of any trip, however, will doubtless be the fabulous food, and those who keep kosher need not feel excluded. Kosher restaurants are available in Arugam Bay and the Gandara area.

HAPPILY, SOME of Sri Lanka’s finest cuisine was served to guests by the ambassador at his recent dinner. Thirty-two mouthwatering dishes – in all – graced the table, some of which were prepared by the ambassador himself. These delicious dishes included: chicken biryani; string hoppers (Idiyappam); kottu roti; coconut roti; mango curry; butter prawn curry; Pathola (snake gourd); Cancun devil curry; cashew curry; potato and green bean curry; coconut sambal; Moringa (drumstick) curry; potato curry with coconut cream; and chili chicken curry. 

DINNER AT the Sri Lankan ambassador’s residence: ‘It is important not only to cook the food but also to place it correctly on the table,’ says His Excellency Nimal Bandara.

Sweet treats, including caramel pudding and a selection of fruits, were also served after the meal.

This carefully arranged, beautiful array of dishes was a sight to behold. 

As the ambassador, who was on hand to assist his guests as they helped themselves to the food explained: “It is important not only to cook the food but also to place it correctly on the table, to prepare colorful and matching tablecloths, as well as to place the food according to the colors.”

This spectacle was not lost on my fellow guests, whose number included: Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce President Anat Bernstein-Reich; Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce vice president Ron Doron; Federation of Israel Chamber of Commerce’s Or Nehushtan; Michal Weiler-Tal, director of the South-East Asia Department, Foreign Affairs Ministry; Nadav Ben Yehuda, Nepal Embassy; Israel Airport Authorities director Shmuel Amsalem; and Inga Michaeli, travel writer. 

WHEN THE ambassador himself and the embassy staff aren’t busy preparing sumptuous dinners, they all work hard to support the thousands of Sri Lankans who live and work in Israel, often going over and above what is expected of them. Round-the-clock help is provided, including hospital visits, prison visits, participating in police interrogations and court hearings (translating), and so on.

One woman from the embassy, who works closely with the Sri Lankan community here in Israel, told me, “I was on a hospital visit not long ago and the doctor asked me who I was and where from. When I said the embassy, he stated: ‘This is the first time any embassy [worker] has visited a foreign worker.’”

In keeping with the warm hospitality for which Sri Lanka is renowned, its embassy also has a warm, welcoming atmosphere – a place where visitors can pop in and help themselves to drinks and snacks. There’s even a designated kids’ corner that opened last week. This provides a child-friendly area where youngsters can read, draw, and paint, while their parents seek the help they need from the staff. Chocolate, sweets, and fruit are also available for whoever wants.

My recent taste of Sri Lanka has not only stirred up some happy childhood memories but also reignited my desire to visit this magnificent country.

As my good fortune would have it, my wish may soon be granted, thanks to His Excellency Nimal Bandara, who has invited me to join his party on the inaugural direct flight to Sri Lanka next month.

At long last, my childhood dream will become a reality.

The writer is a former lawyer from Manchester, England. She now lives in Israel where she works at The Jerusalem Post.


‘Arugam Bay’ to be transformed

….. into high-income tourist destination

 President Ranil Wickremesinghe who toured Arugam Bay yesterday greets a tourist

  • President announces plans for 10-year strategic roadmap encompassing two distinct phases of development strategies aimed at positioning region as a premier travel and leisure hub
  • Urgent measures to address land title challenges for businesses

President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday announced the swift implementation of a comprehensive plan to elevate the Arugam Bay tourist zone into a highly desirable destination for both local and international tourists, with the potential to generate substantial revenue.

The President emphasised the importance of meticulous planning in identifying areas that necessitate development, with the intention of executing these initiatives systematically. The President further highlighted the prospect of achieving significant income by promoting water sports such as water skiing, which holds popularity along the Arugam Bay coastline.

Wickremesinghe conveyed these rema-rks during a meeting held with key stakeholders in the tourism industry within the Ampara district. The gathering brought together Government officials and industry professionals, aimed at addressing pertinent challenges that have emerged within the tourism sector.

The President underscored that global reports predict tourism to contribute 10% of the global gross domestic product by the year 2035. He stressed that Sri Lanka should proactively prepare for this shift and highlighted the tourism sector’s potential to directly address the nation’s financial challenges.

Wickremesinghe also outlined a two-phase development plan for the tourism industry in the Eastern Province, with the ambitious goal of completing it within the next decade.

Furthermore, during his ongoing tour of the Eastern Province, President conducted an inspection of Arugam Bay and Peanut Farm beaches in the Ampara district. The President personally assessed the areas’ shortcomings and engaged in cordial conversations with the tourists present there.

Following the site visit, President Wickremesinghe engaged in discussions with the local business community to gain insights into the challenges faced within the tourism sector in the area. This comprehensive engagement reflects the President’s commitment to actively addressing the needs and potential of the Eastern Province’s tourism industry.

In the process of developing the Arugam Bay Coastline into a prominent tourist destination, a proposal was put forth to relocate the existing fishing port to an alternative location, equipped with necessary facilities for fishermen. This proposal was conveyed to the President by MP W.D. Weerasinghe. In response, the President emphasised the urgency of transforming this region into a dedicated tourism area while taking swift action on the proposal.

The President’s attention was also drawn to the challenges arising from the absence of permanent property deeds for business premises within the local tourism industry. President Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of promptly submitting a comprehensive report detailing these issues, with an expectation for viable solutions to be presented.

Another key concern addressed was the availability of drinking water for both business establishments and visiting tourists in the area. Recognizing that the construction of the proposed ‘Hada Oya’ drinking water project might take several more years, President Wickremesinghe directed officials to explore the installation of establishing water treatment plants at existing natural water sources, with assistance from the Navy to address these multifaceted challenges in the pursuit of transforming Arugam Bay as a premier tourist destination while ensuring the well-being of the local community and visiting tourists.


1. Go Surfing

Top Things To Do In Sri Lanka
This is an extract from a not-so-well informed Australian article.
They down under always call AbaY “”AraGUM””.
And don’t even know that we are on the EAST Coast 😉

2. Aragum Bay

On the west coast of Sri Lanka, there is a popular beach that offers bigger and better waves that is an awesome spot for surfing called Aragum Bay. This is where you’ll find a lot of surfers hanging out waiting to catch a wave. The season is different than Hikkaduwa’s however, so make sure to check when surfing on the west coast is popular.

Arugam Bay, with its perfect waves, became our favorite spot for surfing. Even as beginners, we enjoyed the thrill of riding the waves in this surfer’s paradise. But surfing is not all Arugam Bay offers. Its relaxed vibe and beautiful beaches make it a perfect getaway.

Make sure to explore the local cuisine and the nightlife of Arugam Bay. The delectable seafood, coupled with lively beach parties, made our stay unforgettable. If you’re seeking adventure or just wish to chill, Arugam Bay is an excellent choice.

source (full article):

SL being promoted as wedding destination

……..venue among US and Canadian citizens

Plans in place to hold Hippie Festival next year in Arugam Bay

By Hiran H.Senewiratne

US- based and Sri Lankan owned AJ Events & Productions and Ceylon Creative Studios have taken the initiative to promote Sri Lanka as a wedding destination venue for US and Canadian citizens, which would bring a considerable amount of foreign reserves into the country, their Founding Director, Global Operations Keith Bates said.

“Sri Lanka is an ideal summer wedding destination for Americans and Canadians, especially for Sri Lankan expatriates in the USA and Canada. Above US $ 100,000 could be earned from a wedding, which is a three- night pack that includes airfare, accommodation, reception and other related matters. So far we have received several inquiries, including some from US citizens, Bates told The Island Financial Review.

Bates added: “We will be launching our US office for that purpose in New York and we are already being supported by Sri Lanka Tourism and other related entities.

“We are moving to a new stage of promoting Sri Lanka as a Destination Wedding Venue for USA and Canada. Ceylon Creative Studios’ wedding brand is growing in New York, Los Angeles, the Mid-West and Canada. We are also experienced in Destination Wedding video productions.

“Our team comprises Oshi Perera – Director Admin & Finance / Business Partner AJ Events & Productions, Reshan Hangiligedara – Founder / Cinematographer / Photographer / Retouch-Artist Ceylon Creative Studios NYC, USA, Eshani Santiago – Makeup Artist / Operations & Creative Producer Ceylon Creative Studios NYC, USA and Georgio Malouf – Ceylon Creative Studios NYC, USA.

“Apart from that, for the first time in South Asia, a Hippie Festival will be organized in Arugam Bay next year and such an event would generate a huge amount of foreign reserves for the country.

“The Hippie concept is increasing in popularity throughout the world and per year more than 1000 Hippies visit Sri Lanka. These Hippies also bring considerable sums of foreign currency into Sri Lanka and for this event we are expecting more than 3000 Hippies, including their spouses.

“This event would attract the European region as well and we are preparing to add value and more glamour to this event by arranging to provide maximum enjoyment for our guests.

“At present we are in the process of collecting data on the number of rooms available and other requirements and the government, especially Sri Lanka Tourism, is also assisting us.

“Ceylon Creative Studios is a premium creative production studio headquartered in the USA, that specializes in crafting cinematic visuals that tell captivating stories.

“The company’s expertise lies in our adaptability and our pursuit of quality, using cutting-edge technology, like Synthasia and Chat GPT, for brainstorming, scripting, and ideation.

“At Ceylon Creative Studios, we pride ourselves on our strong team leadership and quality control measures. Ensuring every project meets our exacting standards, we provide rich, immersive experiences that resonate with audiences and leave a lasting impression.”


Hippie festival at Arugam Bay

For the first time in South Asia, a Hippie festival organised by USA based and Sri Lankan owned AJ Events & Productions and Ceylon Creative Studios will be held in Arugam Bay next year.

Keith Bates

The Founding Director Global Operations AJ Events & Productions and Ceylon Creative Studios NYC, USA, Keith Bates said that such an event would generate a huge amount of publicity among the global Hippie community drawing them to Sri Lanka in large numbers.

He said that Hippies are generally considered low spenders but by hosting this event they can get them in large numbers to come to one venue in Arugam Bay. “We hope to bring in international artists that attract their community and host a series of other entertainment events thereby attracting around 3,000 to Arugam Bay for a period of at least one week.”

“Together with my partners, Georgio Malouf, shani Santiago, Oshi Perera and Reshan Hangiligedara we hope to hosts a three-day music festival similar to ‘The Woodstock Music Festival’ held in Bethel, New York, which was attended by around 5,000 young people living the hippie lifestyle,” he said.

He also said that events of this nature also bring in global bands that move with the Hippie festival.

“We expect this ‘Hippie festival in Arugam Bay’ to generate around USD 15 million plus revenue to Sri Lanka and hope to make it an annual event.

Bates said he also met the officials of Sri Lanka Tourism Convention Bureau who were very supportive towards this event as this MICE segment was not promoted before.

“Next week we will meet the Arugam Bay Hoteliers and other decision makers and logistical providers to obtain their support and open up to make this event a win-win for them as well,” he said.

Bates said that they have also hosted many international events in Sri Lanka including the Commonwealth Law Ministers Summit. “We are also planning to host an international Surfing Championship in Arugam Bay next year.” –


A Titanic / AbaY Connection

Titan’s Hamish Harding: A true friend of Sri Lanka

Quote (Extract):
Harding had expressed his interest in visiting the sacred Sri Pada mountain and Arugam Bay on the East Coast during his next visit to Sri Lanka along with his family.…”


News Features

9 July, 2023

On June 18, 58-year-old British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding lost his life in the Titan submersible implosion. He is one of the few people who had been to space (on board the Blue Origin, of Jeff Bezos’ space company) and also to the depths of the ocean. He was keen to become one of the few people who had witnessed the wreck of the ill-fated Titanic ocean liner with their own eyes. He was one of the five people who lost their lives in the Titan’s implosion at a depth of about 4 Km, close to the wreck of the Titanic which sank in 1912. Following his death several stories of his close connections to Sri Lanka have surfaced. Harding apparently loved Sri Lanka and had visited the island many times. This is yet another similar story.

Hamish Harding with family members after setting a Guinness world record

According to a long-time Sri Lankan friend of Harding, the billionaire had plans to invest in Sri Lanka and was expected to visit the country following his once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the Titan submersible. The friend is Rangitha Herath, a Civil Engineer involved in many international projects as well as in Sri Lanka.

“As I recently returned to Sri Lanka, Hamish phoned me two months prior to his Titan trip and said he would visit Sri Lanka soon,” she said in a conversation with the Sunday Observer. According to Herath, Harding had visited her ancestral home in Kandy on one previous occasion as well.

Visiting Sri Pada mountain

She said Harding had expressed his interest in visiting the sacred Sri Pada mountain and Arugam Bay on the East Coast during his next visit to Sri Lanka along with his family.

According to Herath, their friendship which began in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) spanned over two decades. Harding provided much-needed knowledge on the construction of Helipads in major building sites in Dubai and met Herath often during these important meetings.

“He always appreciated my ability to overcome challenges as a woman in such a male-dominated field,” she said.

Herath recalled the exchange of knowledge between the two and the many useful discussions over the years. “He was generous with his professional knowledge and advice,” she said.

Herath said Harding had a deep interest in Buddhist philosophy and had started living according to such principles. Herath also said she gifted books on Buddhism to Harding several times which he had read keenly.

“In 2004 he launched a company called Action Aviation in Dubai. I tied a pirith thread on his hand and wished him well on that important milestone. His untimely demise is really devastating,” she said.

Orbit in Dubai

Herath said, Harding even facilitated and supported her interest in learning to pilot light aircraft and getting a Private Pilot’s licence (PPL). She said he had intended to launch a project called Orbit in Dubai and wanted her contribution to it as well.

According to Herath, Harding last visited Sri Lanka between June – July 2014. “He contacted me when he lost his wallet in Sri Lanka. I contacted the Aviation authorities and requested their support. Later, he informed me it was found and returned by a youth in Kurunegala. He praised the young man profusely” she said. This particular story was published in several local websites.

“In 2004, when the Indian Ocean tsunami happened on Boxing Day, Hamish was the first to call and inform me about it. I was in Dubai at the time. Hamish donated over seven containers of essential goods to Sri Lanka at the time to be distributed among those who were affected by the disaster in the Southern Province,” she said.

According to Herath, Harding was keen to invest in Sri Lanka and support its development. She said he loved Sri Lanka’s beauty and the tenacity and resilience of its citizens. “He believed Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans could do many great things,” she said.

“In 2019, a group of representatives from his company visited Sri Lanka as Hamish wanted to commence a Medivac (Medical Evacuation) project here. But it did not take off. Later he expressed his desire to commence a similar project based on the Port City. But it was unfortunately not to be,” she said while expressing her condolences to Harding’s family and close friends.


Top Destinations to Visit in June

As school is nearly out, the summer holiday season is just around the corner. June is an excellent time to book a break as it is often the last month to get away before peak summer season in many destinations, allowing travelers to avoid the crowds. Additionally, June is the month with the longest daylight hours of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, making it a great time for sunshine-filled days in many places around the world.

If you’re looking for great festivals, Glastonbury is a must-attend event. The world’s largest greenfield music festival takes place every June in 900 acres of countryside in England’s south-west. Running for more than five decades, Glastonbury attracts hundreds of thousands of revelers each year.

Sri Lanka’s original surfing hot spot, Arugam Bay, is perfect to visit in June as this is when the waves are at their best. It’s also the best time to go before the country’s beaches fill up with summertime tourists who typically flock to Sri Lanka during July and August.

Every June, Sweden celebrates its annual midsummer festival, one of the country’s biggest events. Coinciding with the longest day of the year, the occasion has long been considered a magical night for Swedes. Dalarna County, in central Sweden, is the place to go for the full experience, including revellers dressed in traditional folk costumes, dancing, garland-filled parades, and maypole raising.

For those who love wildlife, Tanzania is the perfect destination as you get the opportunity to witness the great migration of herds of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra in Serengeti National Park. Head to the park’s Western Corridor to see this natural wonder in all its glory. The daytime brings sunshine and temperatures averaging around a pleasant 25 degrees, although evenings are colder.

In Australia, the first taste of winter arrives this month, but Queensland is welcoming its dry season and lowest rainfall, making it a perfect time to swim and snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, sail the Whitsundays, and enjoy the beach. As it is considered an off-season for international travellers, it’s also the right time to find deals on accommodations and flights, and to enjoy a visit that’s not filled with tourist-ridden coastlines.

In Iceland, summer has arrived, bringing with it the endless midnight sun, blooming fields of lupin, and warmer temperatures. Husavik, on the country’s northern edge, is the place to go for a summertime whale watching experience and to soak in a geothermal pool. Just don’t expect to go swimming, as the water temperature will still be hovering around a chilly 6 degrees.

Lastly, if you want to enjoy an outdoor adventure and experience nature at its best, Uganda is an excellent destination to try. The country has made a name for itself as one of the best places in the world to see mountain gorillas in their native habitats. June is the start of the country’s drier season, so it’s a good time to spot these majestic creatures at ease. Days are warm and dry, with only an occasional rain shower. It is also an excellent time of year for a visit to Lake Victoria if you want to experience it before the summer crowds arrive.


Miss Tourism World for the first time

……Also Visiting Arugam Bay……

Officials at the press conference in Colombo. Pic: Nissanka Wijerathne

The Miss World Tourism 2023 will take place in Sri Lanka for the first time in July. The pageant is set to showcase the country’s scenic regions and tourism hotspots as 40 contestants from around the world will compete for the Miss World Tourism title.

The pageant will be launched on July 20 and take contestants to Sigiriya, Kandy, Arugam Bay,
Yala and Hikkaduwa, wrapping up on the 11th day for the main event at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre.

The participating countries are: Belarus, Belgium, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Cambodia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Ghana, Guinea, Hungary, India, Italy, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, London, Macedonia, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, The Netherlands, the UAE, Ukraine and Zambia.

In an ambitious move to boost tourism and address neglected issues across Sri Lanka, the Miss World Tourism Sri Lanka pageant is set to captivate the nation’s attention. Departing from the traditional focus on superficial beauty, this groundbreaking pageant aims to harness the potential of its contestants to effect positive change in their home countries while promoting Sri Lanka’s tourism globally.

Under the innovative format, each country will send its finest representative to compete in the final stage of Miss World Tourism Sri Lanka. These nine winners will not only vie for the prestigious title but will also be entrusted with a significant responsibility. Their role will encompass the development and execution of a project tailored to address specific issues that have long been overlooked in their countries.

By emphasising purpose and social impact, the pageant organisers seek to foster a sense of dedication and responsibility among the contestants. Rather than merely aspiring to win a beauty title, these suitably qualified winners are encouraged to embrace the opportunity to make a tangible difference in their communities and elevate the standing of their provinces.

Throughout a considerable period of time, the crowned winners will dedicate themselves to their projects, demonstrating their personal growth, compassion, and the ability to effect positive change.

This approach not only showcases the contestants’ capabilities but also serves as a testament to their commitment to society and the nation as a whole. Beyond the glitz and glamour, Miss World Tourism Sri Lanka is a catalyst for promoting tourism in the country.

By leveraging the contestants’ influence, the pageant aims to enhance Sri Lanka’s global recognition as a premier tourist destination.

Through their participation and personal projects, these exceptional women will showcase the diverse attractions and unique cultural experiences that Sri Lanka has to offer, enticing travellers from all corners of the world.

The Miss World Tourism Sri Lanka pageant embodies a new era of beauty pageants, one that transcends traditional notions of beauty and empowers contestants to become agents of change.

With a focus on provincial development and a commitment to transforming neglected issues, this groundbreaking event aims to put Sri Lanka firmly on the global tourism map while leaving a lasting impact on the communities it touches.