The Sunday Leader

New Life For Negombo

By Nirmala Kannangara

Boats of Negombo. There are many kinds of boats with the catamaran  being unique to Negombo

Boats of Negombo. There are many kinds of boats with the catamaran being unique to Negombo

In order to promote Negombo as a popular tourist destination for the whole family, the Western Province Tourism Ministry together with the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Negombo Hoteliers Association and Negombo Tourist Association are to organise the first ever Negombo beach festival – ‘Feel Negombo 2009’ from December 11 to 13.

Built during the Dutch period in the 1600s a small portion of the Dutch Fort still remains

Built during the Dutch period in the 1600s a small portion of the Dutch Fort still remains

The beach carnival has been targeted to attract the young and old alike to create a vibrant and attractive image of Sri Lanka’s most famous fishing village, which is also known as ‘Little Rome’ not only among domestic travelers but also among the foreign leisure seekers according to President, Negombo Hoteliers Association (NHA) and General Manager, Jetwing Beach, Hyacinth Gunawardena.

“Although Negombo is a popular tourist destination, there were no promotional activities carried out by the relevant authorities but with the intervention of the Western Province Tourism Minister Nimal Lanza, we the Negombo Hoteliers too were able to get an opportunity to get an annual beach carnival,” Gunawardena told The Sunday Leader.

According to Gunawardena plans have been drawn to hold kiddies activities, day and night activities and special events for senior citizens to make the carnival an outing for the entire family.

“Feel Negombo has lined up a host of events over three days and our main objective is to give a special recognition to Negombo in the map of Sri Lanka Tourism and also to showcase our hospitality among the foreign travelers,” added Gunawardena.
Gunawardena also paid a special tribute to the Provincial Tourism Minister for his unstinted support to make the NHA’s long-standing aspiration a reality and added that they would rectify any shortcomings at the first ever carnival from next year.

“Unlike the support the southern tourism industry is receiving from the Tourism Ministry the attention given to us is very much less in comparison. As a result of less publicity received, we could not expect a large crowd as seen at the Hikkaduwa Beach Festival. Since this would be our first major exposition as a joint event, we kindly request our guests to bear with us if there are shortcomings in organising the event or in our line up of activities,” she further added.

According to Gunawardena ‘Feel Negombo 2009’ would feature water walking and zorbing whilst an extensive list of activities too are on the cards.
Among the activities are Water Sports — Jet Skis, Wind Surfing, Banana Rides, Boat Rides, Canal Tours, Diving / Snorkelling, Plastic Ball Bumper, Wake Boards, Tube Rides, Arial Rope, Water Ski, Fishing Activities, ATV Rides, Paint Ball, Water Cannon Park, Kidies Activities and Drum Sensation.

Negombo has the required infrastructure in place to turn it into an upmarket beach tourism hub.

According to the organising committee there is a senior citizens programme incorporated into the event whereby Sri Lankans abroad will have the opportunity to pay for a day trip for their parents living here. The organisers will provide transport, buffet meals and various activities, which will entertain them. After spending the entire day in Negombo they will be taken back to Colombo.

“All the 14 big hotels in Negombo would provide free accommodation to the visiting musical groups. Night activities and overnight DJ parties are to be held along the coastal strip near Golden Star Hotel while kiddies’ activities will be held along the Browns Beach Hotel beach and up to the Blue Oceanic Hotel. Day activities and water sports including catamaran races are to be held on the last day with the help of the fisher folk in the area,” Gunawardena added.

“There is a lack of attention to the ageing people who need mental relaxation and peace of mind. We are keen to create events that appeal to all sectors of the Sri Lankan population,” Secretary, Tourism Ministry George Michael has said.

According to Tourism Ministry sources Feel Negombo 2009 would feature a range of international artistes including DJ  Acee (Switzerland – Hip Hop) , DJ Miss Match (Australia – R n B / Reggae) and DJ Eric Carver (Canada – House).

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