|Whitnash boat keeps tourism afloat|
|Getting Sri Lankan tourism back on its feet is the new year mission of a Whitnash couple.|
Nicki Farthing and Jonathan Frost, of Goldacre Close, spent 2005 tirelessly fundraising for the nation.
One year on from the Asian Boxing Day disaster, they are still as committed to the cause as ever.
But with the initial unprecedented public giving fading away, the couple are urging a new approach.
Nicki said: "Tourism is vital to spurring on the economy, but the industry is absolutely dead and the hotels are empty.
"It's very disappointing.
"We thought there would have been some promotions by tourist companies, such as two-for-one offers.
"But we have had good support from Thomson travel agents in Kenilworth, who have put packages together to offer customers.
"The Christmas and new year period is a fantastic time to go.
"There are few tourists and it's still such a beautiful country -
the inland areas show little evidence of the tsunami.
"This is our message for the new year."
Nicki and Jonathan saw first-hand the devastation wreaked on the country's coastal areas this summer.
They toured the country, made contacts and gave out aid.
Nicki said: "This year's been life-changing.
"Our house has been turned upside down storing the shipments of aid we have helped send out.
"At the weekends instead of planning, say, a trip away, we have been have been thinking about where can go to raise money.
"We talk about the tsunami every day."
The couple, whose Support Sri Lanka Foundation became a registered charity in October, have sent out three containers of aid. They changed this approach after the country's government imposed a £1,000 tax on each shipment.
As well as their own time and effort, they have channelled funds raised by others in Leamington.
The Pop Tarts held a concert in the town to raise £1,400, which the couple put towards two fishing boats.
One conspicuously bears the band's logo on the side. The charity has also funded new houses, school uniforms and stationery and fresh water supplies.
The couple, who have been overwhelmed with the support they have received, will return to the country in May.
At present they are appealing for people to donate unwanted Christmas presents and order goods via their website, as a percentage of each transaction goes to the charity.
To help out visit www.supportsrilankafoundation.org or phone 01926 883553.
22 December 2005
Support Sri Lanka
9 Goldacre Close
Registered Charity No. 1111896