Sri Lanka hopes for spark from South Asian motor rally

Feb 17, 2007 (LBO) – The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the largest regional group in the world by population, is to kick off a rally to spark interest in member country hotspots and tourist attractions. The rally is to set off in Dhaka in Bangladesh and will take the ground routes through Bhutan, Nepal and via India to Pakistan, Richard De Zoysa President Sri Lanka Automobile Sports Association said on Thursday.

The rally would be flagged off on March 15, Zoysa said.

At the end of an 8,200 kilometre tour across the Indian subcontinent, the vehicles will be ferried to Sri Lanka, an island, to complete the event. The participants will also make an honorary visit to the Maldives.

India will supply vehicles for the 8,200-kilometer rally, while the rest of the countries will sponsor food, accommodation, fuel, medical supplies and security, Zoysa said.

Underscoring regional rivalry however, Pakistan will not be using the Indian-made Tata Safaris.

The countries, including Sri Lanka hope the rally will promote an influx of tourists into the region as well as strengthen regional cooperation, Hussein Bhaila, Sri Lanka’s deputy foreign minister, said.

The countr