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Galle under seige from Barmy Army

The southern Sri Lankan town of Galle is seeing a flood of tourists like never before as English fans converge for the first Test on Tuesday.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2003 12:26 IST

The southern Sri Lankan town of Galle is seeing a flood of tourists like never before as English fans converge here for the first Test starting on Tuesday.

An estimated 6,000 fans from the England team, many belonging to the famous Barmy Army group of travelling supporters, have come calling on this town which boast a 200-year-old Dutch fort but not many hotel rooms.

"It has never been like this. As it is there has been a surge in tourism and now comes this Test series," said a local tour operator who was clearly struggling to cope with the situation.

"Hotels are requesting operators not to take any more bookings. In fact, many of the hotels are overbooked and so are the smaller guest houses in and around town.

"We're diverting non-English tourists to other places," said the travel operator, who has been forced to change travel plans of many groups.

English fans, who could not get a room in Galle, are checking in at hotels in other nearby towns like Kalutra and Hikkaduwa from where they plan to commute daily to watch the cricket.

The Barmy Army is synonymous with English cricket fans travelling overseas to support their team.

After Galle, the English team will travel to the hill resort of Kandy for the second Test from December 10-14. The third and final Test will be played in Colombo from December 18-22.

First Published: Dec 01, 2003 12:26 IST