By Chandeepa Wettasinghe Sri Lanka Tourism authorities will be moving towards the regulation of beach boys, who are a common sight along the Wellawatta-Galle tourist zone. “We will again be bringing police regulation for beach boys,” Tourism, Land and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga said at a media conference recently. He noted that police officers would be stationed at various centre points along the beach stretch from Wellawatta to Galle in order to ensure that tourists are not being harassed by beach boys.
“We had such a department in the past, but the officers had to be pulled out for other duties during the war and other emergencies,” Amaratunga added. He observed that such a phenomenon does not exist in beaches across the other parts of the country.
A Tourist Police section already exists within Sri Lanka Police. While many tourists find beach boys a nuisance, a significant portion of tourists visiting Sri Lanka for its beaches—nearly 50 percent of Sri Lankan arrivals—travel to avail themselves of the various exotic services that a beach boy can provide, most of which are illegal in their home countries.
This has led to Sri Lanka becoming known as a sex tourism destination and is rapidly gaining notoriety as a child sex trafficking country, industry experts warn. Beach boys have become highly organised over the past few decades and many earn significantly through their many foreign patrons. However, industry lobbyists note that the existence of such a culture shows deeply rooted socio-cultural and economic problems.