SriLankan Airlines hosted the first of its annual series of surf events, by setting up the SriLankan Airlines Pro 2006 sponsored by Oakley. Over 128 of the world’s top surfers challenged the waves of Pasta Point in the Maldives, amongst these was Australian surfer Luke Munro, who took the Association of Surfing Professionals’ (ASP) grand prize US$10,000 with a score of 18.1.
The SriLankan Pro 2006 is Munro’s first major open win after three years on the World Qualifying Circuit. The win has put Munro at number two on the World Qualifying Series Ratings, setting him up well for next seasons’ World Championship Tour.
SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Mr. Peter Hill said, “It was great to see some of the best surfers from around the world with us in the Maldives. The high level of competition and rising young talent coming up in the game was a wonderful tribute to our event”.
SriLankan Airlines meanwhile is already gearing up to host the last leg of the Japanese Professional Surfing Association’s (JPSA) Annual Championship in November on the shores of Hikkaduwa, Southern Sri Lanka. The 2005 tournament attracted over 125 Japanese professional surfers and a host of spectators. These surfing events and other promotions hosted by SriLankan Airlines are expected to boost tourism arrivals, particularly ahead of the start of the tourism season in late July.
SriLankan Airlines Manager of Promotions Saminda Perera said, “Sri Lanka and the Maldives already boast a reputation for great surf. What we aim to do is increase the interest at international level, encouraging surfers and sun lovers to come to Sri Lanka and the Maldives during the off-seasons”.
SriLankan Airlines passengers account for over half the annual 550,000 tourists arriving in Sri Lanka, making the airline the largest foreign carrier operating into the Maldives. An ongoing strategy to broaden the passenger profile of SriLankan Airlines is contributing to an increase in leisure tourism, into both Sri Lanka, the Maldives and beyond to India and the Far East.