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Sri lanka News – The controversial incident of reckless driving in Sri Lanka’s Yala national park could’ve been avoided if measures had been taken to promote adventure tourism in the country, State Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Rohana Dissanayake said.

Individuals said to be associated with several prominent politicians went on a joyride in a restricted area of the the Yala national park recently. Video footage of four-wheel drive vehicles drifting in an open plain inside the park went viral, causing much outrage on social media and elsewhere. The suspects were later arrested and blacklisted by the Department of Wildlife, prohibiting them from entering any national park in the country.

“Children from a young age have an interest in such adventurous activities and with time they get the urge to try these adventurous sports,” Minister Dissanayake said on Thursday November 30 speaking to reporters.

“I am not taking their side, but what we saw in Yala was an example of a burst of this urge to participate in these types of ports.

“If we had at least provided the youth with nine tracks in the nine provinces, this could have been avoided. I think as a ministry we have been a bit behind in this,” he said.

The minister was speaking at a media briefing in Colombo to promote adventure sports in the country and to unveil the ministry’s plans to work with the private sector to promote and regulate adventure sports such as 4×4 adventure riding and white water rafting in Sri Lanka contributing to sports tourism.

Sri Lanka, going through its worst currency crisis in decades, is struggling to attract more foreign exchange and is currently exploring ways to attract more tourists and send more locals abroad for foreign employment in order to increase foreign remittances.

Dissanayake said the ministry is collaborating with the Maxis tire company and the Iron Man 4×4 teams for a public private partnership to promote these sports in the country and develop it to national levels.

The ministry is currently exploring lands in nine provinces to create off road tracks for the sport, he said.

The ministry will also take measures to reform and regulate white water rafting in the Kitulgala area following requests by the locals, tourists and local politicians, he added.

Though Sri Lanka is known for its various adventure sport locations, the country’s tourism sector has only been promoting white water rafting, kite surfing and surfing, the minister said.

By improving adventure sports in Sri Lanka, the country will have a higher possibility of attracting more tourists, helping improve its forex situation, he added.  (Colombo/Nov03/2022)

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