Tourism was born in Hikkaduwa already in the 1950s when European backpackers travelling to India by land could take a ferry to Mannar in Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon. Hikkaduwa became the island’s “Hippie Beach”. Though these backpackers were pioneers for beach tourism in Sri Lanka, they themselves were not a good source of additional income for locals, since they prefered to stay in tent accommodation. Nevertheless, some of them had enough money for drug abuse, helping to develop a Sri Lankan branch of the Pakistani Mafia. Narigama became an inofficial nude colony, a less criminal but all the more sensational innovation. Another natural beauty of Hikkaduwa, the coral reefs, also attracted some travellers, since Sir Arthur C. Clarke with his diving activities and movies contributed towards making Hikkaduwa a place known for tourists.
But soon afterwards other tourists also discovered the charming beach of Hikkaduwa. A resthouse with seven rooms had been constructed already in 1950. And because some of Sri Lanka’s first beach hotels were built in Hikkaduwa, too, when accommodaton was not yet available in Galle, the upper class people interested in visiting horse races in Galle, discovered Hikkaduwa, too. Coral Sands Hotel was the first operating star class hotel. The government helped to develop Hikkaduwa by constructing a fisheries harbour supporting the traditional economy but helping the tourism sector at the same time, because the beach was cleaner now, without the odour of dead fish once scattered at the tourist area.
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