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scandal

   

 Sri Lanka’s Channel 4


Photo of nude females and males circulated abroad prior to the Hikkaduwa Beach Festival 2009 (inset) some of the visitors enjoying themselves at the Hikkaduwa Beach Festival 2009

By Risidra Mendis   

The fun and entertainment experienced by many visitors at the Hikkaduwa Beach Festival 2009 was shattered recently when unscrupulous elements started circulating nude photos of youngsters walking on the beach as part of the festival’s activities.

The Hikkaduwa Beach Festival 2009, one of the largest festivals to be held in South Asia, brought together locals and foreigners for four days, from July 30 to August 4.

The Beach Festival has generated an income of Rs 160 million, exceeding last year’s revenue of Rs 120 million. The Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Hikkaduwa Tourist Service Providers Association (HTSPA) organised this event.

However, The Sunday Leader  has learned that a mud-slinging campaign is being carried out by some people against the organisers of the Beach Festival.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Tourism Promotion Minister Faizer Mustafa said the government has denied that the nude photos were from the Beach Festival.

“The photographs circulated in this e-mail have been traced by us,” Mustafa said. “The nude photos originated in a foreign country and were not part of this Beach Festival.”

HTSPA member Udara Guruge told The Sunday Leader that these photos were not part of the Beach Festival and challenged anybody to come forward and prove that they were taken at the site.

“One of the photos circulated was of two topless girls leaning against a wall under a tap,” Guruge said. “There is a light also in the background. We, as the organising committee, say there was no such wall, tap or light at the Beach Festival and request anybody who can prove that this photo was taken at the Beach Festival to come forward. We know for a fact that these nude photos were circulated abroad prior to the Beach Festival.”

He added that some people have criticized the HTSPA for allowing young girls to wear bikinis and shorts.

“If we were selling ganja, drugs or encouraging nude females and males at the Beach Festival, then we would be at fault. Even the foreign dancers were dressed decently. A Sinhala newspaper has dragged out the organising committee members’ personal issues and published them. It is the Colombo night club owners who are slinging mud at us because they lose their customers during the Beach Festival, as the younger generation make it a point to come to Hikkaduwa during the festival. This year, we had a crowd of over 15,000 people at the Beach Festival.”

Manager of the Amaya Reef Hotel and Secretary of the HTSPA, Dayal Fernando said this is an event that every Sri Lankan should look at with an open mind.

“Just because my mother calls me a naughty boy doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m a naughty boy,” Fernando said. “Where this incident is concerned, you have to think out of the box. People can comment, that is their right. But I was there at the Beach Festival and didn’t see such an incident. Only that cameraman seems to have seen that incident of nude youngsters. Obviously, somebody is working according to someone else’s agenda.  I totally condemn the article written in a Sinhala newspaper where they have said that nude youngsters were present at this beach festival. It is very wrong to publish articles with incorrect information. This type of festival should be held every month, not every year, to promote Hikkaduwa to the people.” 

HTSPA member Janaka Sanjeeva Nanayakkara, who was present during the days of the beach festival, said there were no nude youngsters walking on the beach.

“This was a very successful event and needs to be held every year,” Nanayakkara said. “It is a good experience for people to work together and make this beach festival a growing success. Since this festival was held during the off season, there weren’t many foreigners, but, nevertheless, this festival was a success.

“For the past 14 years, I have been organising events to promote Hikkaduwa. I have promoted many drum events and have been the leader of the drum bands Vibes, Elephant Foot and Hurricane for many years. Our intention was to promote Hikkaduwa among the people at this Beach Festival and we achieved our aim.”

More information on the Hikkaduwa Beach Festival can be accessed via their websitewww.hikkaduwanet.com.


 

 
 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 


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