18 teams rev-up tuks for ‘Lanka Challenge’

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Paddy Withana, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism and Promotion Bureau addressing the media during a press meet at Tourism Board on Tuesday 16th August 2016 regarding the forthcoming event “Lanka Challenge” from 20th to 28th of August 2016 in Colombo.Devindre Senaratne, President SLAITO, Chandra Wickramasinghe, Chairman Connaissance De Ceylon, Jullian Carnal, Organiser Lanka Challenge, Malraj Kiriella, Director General, Sri Lanka Tourism Authority, Saminda Perera, General Manager Sales and Promotion Srilankan Airlines are also present. 

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By Charumini de Silva

The eighth edition of ‘Lanka Challenge,’ a nine-day adventure tour of Sri Lanka using a funky mode of local transportation – tuk tuks – will kick off this Sunday (21) from Tamarind Tree in Minuwangoda.

The self-driven tuk-tuk challenge is organised for the eighth consecutive year by Large Minority in partnership with Connaissance de Ceylan and the Ministry of Tourism. The challenge has 18 teams registered for the 2016 edition comprising 55 international participants representing 11 nationalities.

‘Lanka Challenge’ is the ultimate road trip for those intrepid travellers from around the world that like their travel fully charged and no-holds-barred. This time the participants will explore the Eastern Province — wild, adventurous and less travelled territories where teams of two to three tourists will drive themselves to various challenges at these locations on the colourful tuk tuks that have been borrowed from local drivers for the duration of this tour.

National Carrier SriLankan Airlines is the main sponsor of the event alongside the official travel partner, Connaissance de Ceylon.

Large Minority Co-Founder and event organiser Julian Carnell said ‘Lanka Challenge’ has become a calendar event for travellers from around the world to explore and experience Sri Lanka’s culture, wild life, heritage and gastronomic adventures.

“We hope to once again captive the world through our responsible tourism initiative to leave appositive footprint in Sri Lanka. The key objective of this is to promote Sri Lanka as a leading adventure destination in Asia,” he stressed.

The Lanka Challenge also embraces a policy of responsible tourism where a total of 10% of each team’s entry fee would be given directly to support local charity partners such as the Red Cross of Sri Lanka and the Land Owners Restore Reforestation in Sri Lanka (LORRIS).

Commenting on the positive social impact of last year’s event he stated: “Last year we collected over $8,000 which had been used for different charitable projects such as donating text books, musical instruments and planting over 200 indigenous trees to offset carbon emissions.”

In addition, Large Minority encourages each team to raise at least $500 to be used for their preferred charities in or out of Sri Lanka or added to the total of funds raised by the event. “We would also welcome support from any individual who is unable to join, but still wants to support or raise funds,” he added.

Carnell reiterated the challenge is not a race and clarified that participants are not timed on how fast they can complete a challenge giving them the freedom and opportunity to enjoy the natural and historical sites of the island as well.

“The popularity of the challenge has been growing since its inception six years ago thus, we are planning to have two events next year,” Carnell shared future plans.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Chairman Paddy Withana said ‘Lanka Challenge’ is an important event that helps position Sri Lanka as a top adventure destination in this rapidly growing market.

“This event also sends out an important message to the world that Sri Lanka is a safe destination for travellers. It also helps to filter down the benefits to local communities and industries involved in this endeavour,” he pointed out.

Noting that adventure tourism was a good area for Sri Lanka to capitalise on to attract high-end travellers Connaissance de Ceylon Chairman however emphasised that proper marketing and product development was essential to catch the attention of high-end tourists.

“Adventure tourism is expensive, but there are many travellers who spend a lot on good adventure tourism experiences. These participants at ‘Lanka Challenge spend over $4,000 for eight days for a team of two, this was a great example to attract such high end tourists and there are many other untapped adventure tourism opportunities that Sri Lanka could offer,” he explained.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Director General Malraj Kiriella stated: “Tourism is all about experience. It’s not just about a particular event; it’s about profiling the destination.”

Organisers have also been working closely with various local authorities to ensure the highest standard of safety for participants on the road. They are required to have an international driving license in order to drive the tuk tuks and will be given a day of training on the mechanics of how they are handled prior to the flag off.

Pix by Gitika Talukdar

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/562320/18-teams-rev-up-tuks-for–Lanka-Challenge-#sthash.xVQHiiO9.dpuf

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