By Risidra Mendis
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
added that some people have criticized the HTSPA for
allowing young girls to wear bikinis and shorts.
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.
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.”
member Janaka Sanjeeva Nanayakkara, who was present
during the days of the beach festival, said there were
no nude youngsters walking on the beach.
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.
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.”
information on the Hikkaduwa Beach Festival can be
accessed via their websitewww.hikkaduwanet.com.