World Cup adds glamour to H'tota
The Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in
M. Nufail Nawaz
Chandrasena in Hambantota
The Rajapaksa regime put Hambantota on the Sri Lankan map once again
as a city to be visited and invested. Hosting the World Cup in
Hambantota has put this one time poorest of districts in the county on
the world map.
In Hambantota people were dying from Malaria and malnutrition and the
lack of drinking water was one of the biggest issues. Due to sheer
poverty there were organised gangs which used to rob motorists. However,
in the last few decades this changed with rapid focused development
The building of the Harbour was one of the biggest projects to usher
in prosperity to the region followed by the building of the second
international airport, Oil tank farm, Ranmihitanne tele village, the new
zoo, new administrative complex and several other development projects.
Managing Director, Guruge Hotels Dulani Guruge which own and operate
Peacock Beach Hotel said that the decision to host the World Cup in
Hambantota would bring unprecedented coverage to Hambantota and would
boost tourism in the area.
"As soon as the decision was made to host two games in Hambantota we
invested over Rs. 150 million to upgrade our 100 room property to a four
star hotel and we now have 100 percent bookings. We are so happy about
the investing," she said.
She said that World Cup is not only a sporting event it's the second
steping stone after the opening of the harbour to bring economic
benefits to the region".
"The publicity the area would get from the World Cup is
unprecedented. People who never knew Hambantota would start to talk
about the destination and also visit the area even after the World Cup,"
Guruge said that both the Canada and Kenyan teams along with the
international media and officials would be staying at the hotel and this
is very encouraging.
She said that they invested over Rs. 2 million for an infinity
swimming pool with fibre optic lighting, a first for the region and have
invested a further Rs. 1.5 million for a gymnasium. A business centre,
conference facility, new waiting area, coffee shop and the upgrading of
the rooms are some of the key features of this investment.
She said that the residents have already got benefits of the World
Cup as their hotel alone provided new employment opportunities for over
The indirect employment generation is over 200.
M. N. Nandawathi with her husband travel to Hambantota especially
during week ends in their lorry to sell boiled maize at the Hambantota
Town. "I do not know who is playing or what teams are participating but
I only no that my business would pick up during this period as large
crowds are expected to visit," she said.
"I am planning to employ six boys during the World Cup as I see a
huge demand," she said.
D. S. Chandrasena who owns a three wheeler in the area said that his
friends in other parts of the country ask him to book hotels for them to
stay during the World Cup period. "However I cannot find a single hotel
and now my friends have decided to stay in Embilipitiya."
He said that he has purchased Rs. 150 tickets and waiting to witness
the two matches
M. Nufail Nawaz who plays for Hambantota Vidyalaya under 17 cricket
team said he was a bit disappointed as not keenly contested games are
being played in Hambantota. We would have liked to see a game that goes
to the wire. Unfortunately we have been deprived of that opportunity and
it is unfair for the public of Hambantota who are witnessing a big
sporting event of this nature," he said.
Sarath Wickrama who sells king coconut in town does not care what
teams plays. "After all it is the biggest event of the world and we are
ever thankful for being given that opportunity," he said. "We also want
to see stars like Murali, Sanga, Mahela and Malinga performing in
Hambantota and encourage them," he said.
M. N. Nandawathi with her husband in Hambantota selling maize
Pix : Shirajiv Sirimane
The fibre optic lit swimming pool at the Peacock beach Hotel.
The novel double decker bus used for excursions by the hotel
The Hambnatota Fishing Harbour
Mohamed Nizam who owns a fishing boat said that they thought their
lives and business would end after the tsunami devastation. "However due
to this unprecedented development that has taken place we were able to
rise again." He said that he has six in the family and all of them would
watch both matches.
CEO, Hambantota District Chamber of Commence, Azmi Thassim said that
the cricket World Cup is not about playing just two games. "It is a
beginning of a bigger development innings." he said.
"Already over 5,000 people have found indirect employment leading to
the World Cup and some of them would have enough finances to start their
own businesses. Already the transport, food and hotel sectors have
yielded benefits with all the hotels being booked for six days. "Due to
the demand the mini hotels have also raised their prices which is
something that happens when hosting the Olympics or the Football World
Cup," he said.
People selling vegetables and fish also get higher prices during the
event and they would reinvest.
He also said that with the Harbour there are tremendous investment
opportunities and international media exposure to the destination is
bound to spur top businessmen to invest in the region".
A cricket fan from Badulla, Gamunu Ariyasiri who came on Friday to
purchase tickets from the Hambantota sales counter said that he hopes
the traders in Hambantota would support the event. "We pass Hambantota
on many occasions and have observed that even the so-called 'big time'
supermarkets closed before 9 pm. This does not even happen in Jaffna and
I appeal to them to keep their shops open and not make Hambantota a
ghost town after 9 pm."
The South Asian Beach Games too will be hosted in Hambantota adding
more value to the destination.
General Manager Peacock Beach Hotel, Nalin Fernando said that they
now have two world masterpieces (Harbour and grounds) that they can be
proud of. "When the international airport comes up Hambantota would be a
city like no other, bustling with activity".
He also commended the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in
Suriyawewa and said it will be the second Melbourne Cricket grounds. The
stadium will have a capacity to accommodate 35,000 people.
The stadium will host its first international match when Sri Lanka
plays Canada on February 20 during the ICC World Cup 2011. ICC officials
who visited the venue have given the green light for play.
Hosting of the Cricket World Cup has added the much needed glamour to
Hambantota and it would also open new windows of opportunity to the