BBC to broadcast Galle Lit Fest to 40 million audience world-wide

Steve A. Morrell and Clair Boulland, from Sunday Island, 23 January 2011

The Galle Literary Festival (Lit Fest) this year, in its fifth continuous celebration, will again bring together international literary authors, novelists, writers, playwrights, and many who would just want to listen to outstanding personnel who would be in Galle this week. The facilitator of the Galle Literary festival Geoffrey Dobbs said, at the press conference convened last week, there was a good response from recognized writers worldwide. More importantly, the event had grown in stature to garner literary interest from an expanding group of writers who were enthusiastic respondents to enlist their knowledge for the festival. Rather than condense such interest to just four days, it had now expanded to an event for sustained participation all year round. Irrespective of its literary importance gradually gaining icon status, the traveler element was also growing, he noted.

 Food & cuisine is a central dimension of the GFL, Pic by Roberts, 2008

                                                   Vikram Seth & Gore Vidal at Geoffrey Dobbs’ island retreat


Visitors expected to throng Galle would be as interested in its tourist attractions, perhaps secondary to literary value. Dobbs also made the point that SriLankan Airlines and Sri Lanka Tourism have made positive infrastructure arrangements to ensure traveler and value-for–money satisfaction. Geoffrey Dobbs also said the bold decision to conduct the Galle Lit Fest was done at the height of the war raging in Sri lanka five years ago. Although, there were numerous pointers negating its continuation at that time, results from those initial openings were good. Growing enthusiasm provoked its continuation. Of importance was its monetary value to Galle and its environs and expansion of tourism in the South. Sri Lankan and Emirates would carry visitors from Norway, The Netherlands, Britain, India, and other countries

The Galle Lit Fest had Gore Vidal, also Vikram Seth, and over these five years other international literary stars who were part of the event. Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, said It is now an important event in our tourism calendar . Its consequential significance was in ascendance and gaining each year.

Mr. Perenzie representing the Netherlands Embassy said cultural heritage of Dutch influence was strong in Galle and it is that the natural order of things are consequential that the Galle Lit Fest be strongly supported by the Netherlands. Festival Director, Kishani de Silva said global importance of the Galle festival continued to grow not least its impact portraying Sri Lanka culture.

‘The Galle lit Fest this year has attracted increased interest,” said Chairman PATA, Hiran Cooray, who is also Chairman of his company Jet Wing Hotels and Tourism. Hotel bookings are already 80% full, and growing. Tourism influx grew over the past month or so, he said. The Galle Lit Fest was a key event and at this time of year warm waters of the Indian ocean, provokes whale watching.

Author Shyam Selladurai, in overall charge and curator for the festival, said the BBC was on board to broadcast parts of the festival to cover over 40 million listeners world-wide. The BBC World Forum hosted by Diplomatic Correspondent Bridget Kendall will broadcast from Galle.

The Galle Lit Fest will be held from January 27-30. Featured personalities would be Candace Bushnell, Vivimarie Vanderpoorten, Randy Boyagoda, Tash Aw Yvani Deraniyagala, among others who would fill four days of intellectual presentation and topical argument to augment the glitter of the Galle Lit Fest.


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