20th March 2011, www.sundayobserver.lk, By Nilma Dole
Sri Lanka was the first country to introduce ballooning in South East Asia in 2003 said Captain Anil Jayasinghe, Chairman of the Ceylon Airship and Balloon Club and founder of the Sri Lanka’s Hot Air Balloon festival.
This year, the festival will bring 40 balloonists from seven countries who will participate, starting from March 21 April 1 with a grand finale at Independence Square, Colombo 7, according to Capt. Jayasinghe.
Capt. Jayasinghe said that since this was a big financial investment and only for a niche market, Sri Lanka steered ballooning in a bid to promote tourism in the skies.
Even countries such as Singapore and India have not launched ballooning in a big way unlike Sri Lanka.
In marking 2011 as the ‘Visit Sri Lanka’ year, the first Sri Lankan patented balloon will be released to launch the balloon festival on a grand scale.
The balloon designed and built by Capt.Jayasinghe and Jack Klein is called ‘Alaska’. “We are giving the opportunity for many people to go on balloon rides and we will visit areas which were not accessible earlier such as Jaffna and the East,” said the Captain.
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