Pettah Floating Market opening – a special occasion

Thousands of people gathered to witness the opening of the Floating Market at Bastian Mawatha, Pettah yesterday. This is a special occasion as Sri Lanka makes giant strides in its quest to become the Wonder of Asia, after the elimination of terrorism under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This magnificent project is one of many that have been initiated under the Mahinda Chintanaya program, to develop Colombo and other cities in the country on par with environmental friendly cities in the middle income countries.

Veteran film actor Ravindra Randeniya making the welcome speech said that anybody who had not come to Pettah in the recent past would be astonished to see the transformation that has taken place in the country within a short period of time. He said that this was the same Pettah where a LTTE terrorist bomb killed over 200 people in those dark days. He said the people are making the most out of the peace dividends.

Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena participated as the Chief Guest at the invitation of Defence and Urban Development Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The floating market was constructed under the Colombo City beautification project. Senior Minister A.H.M. Fowzie, Minister Douglas Devananda, Deputy Minister Faizer Musthapa, Parliamentarians A.H.M.Azwer, J.R.P. Suriyapperuma, Duminda Silva, Defence and Urban Development Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,Colombo Mayor A.J.M Muzzamil, Commanders of the Three Forces were also present on the occasion.

Earlier,Weerasena Adikari, Senior Consultant to the Urban Development Authority told the media that the floating market was developed as a part of the greater Beira Lake Development Project. “Around 92 stalls have been established within the floating market and 78 of them have been allocated to those who had maintained unauthorized stalls near the location previously,” he added. In addition, the market will consist stalls which sell local crafts, indigenous herbs, fruits and restaurants.

A car park as well as walkways around the premises and its location in between the railway station and the bus stop ensures easy access. Security is to be provided round the clock. According to Adikari the market in addition to locals will be a major attraction for visiting tourists.

The ceremonial opening of the Floating Market at Pettah took place yesterday. Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena who participated as the Chief Guest at the invitation of Defence and Urban Development Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is seen lighting the traditional oil lamp. Senior Minister A.H.M. Fowzie, Minister Douglas Devananda, Deputy Minister Faizer Musthapa, Parliamentarians A. H. M. Azwer, J.R.P. Suriyapperuma, Duminda Silva, Defence and Urban Development Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,Colombo Mayor A.J.M Muzzamil, and Commanders of the Three Forces were also present on the occasion. Pictures by Sumanachandra Ariyawansa
Artistes performing on the occasion

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Japanese help for tourism sector

Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa presents a memento to Japanese Land, Infrastructure Facilities, Transport and Tourism Vice Minister Manabu Sakai

Japan will extend its assistance to develop tourism in Sri Lanka, Japanese Land, Infrastructure Facilities, Transport and Tourism Vice Minister Manabu Sakai said when he called on Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa at the Economic Development Ministry.

Minister Sakai added that Sri Lanka and Japan have a long outstanding relationship and Japan has already ventured to assist Sri Lankan tourism. The Japanese vice minister who was accompanied by senior diplomatic representatives, discussed strengthening bilateral relationship and Japanese co-operation in the fields of tourism, digital communication and disaster management. Minister Rajapaksa said Japan has already extended assistance to a host of development projects including tourism and thanked the Japanese public.

Japanese Ambassador Nobohito Hobo, Japanese officials, Economic Development Ministry Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayatilake and senior state officials were present.

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New Kandy City Hotel to provide economical luxury for all travellers

The Earl’s Group of Hotels, renowned for creating iconic hotels in Kandy, recently launched the Kandy City Hotel. Ceremoniously declared open by Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development GotabhayaRajapaksa on 31 July, the brand new Kandy City Hotel has been established to provide comfortable, conveniently-located accommodation to local and foreign travellers.

The intimate 26-room hotel is only a three-minute walk away from the world-famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and is a stone’s throw away from a number of the other attractions that have made the city of Kandy a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hotel boasts its own fine dining restaurant, as well as a food court that offers diverse dining options, and a convenience store. Subanu Perera, Group Head of Business Development for the Earl’s Group of Hotels, noted, “Each of the 23 Superior Rooms and 3 Deluxe Rooms offers a range of amenities, including satellite television, free toiletries, an unlimited supply of tea and coffee, and an in-room safe. The Deluxe Rooms also have their own private balconies overlooking the historic city centre.” With the addition of the Kandy City Hotel, a budget, no-frills hotel in the heart of Kandy with top-of-the-line in-room amenities to the Group’s portfolio, the Group “Offers a complete range of hotels, from 5-star and below, meeting the needs of any traveler visiting Kandy,” Perera continued. “Although we’ve positioned the Kandy City Hotel as a ‘budget hotel’, we have not compromised when it comes to comfort and quality,” Perera affirmed.

The hotel houses a Fine Dining Restaurant and an onsite Food Court, giving both in-house and walk-in guests gastronomical variety. The Fine Dining Restaurant specialises in Chinese and Vietnamese food, while the Food Court will feature Sri Lanka, Indian and Italian cuisines, as well as juices and other beverages, in addition to a number of international fast food outlets. Designed for the discerning budget traveller, the Kandy City Hotel also provides free Wi-Fi, laundry and concierge services, and indoor games for children and the young-at-heart, as well as a host of other facilities. With the surging popularity of Sri Lanka and tourist hotspots like Kandy, the Kandy City Hotel promises to be the choice of smart travelers who demand comfort and convenience at a fair price. For more information regarding the Kandy City Hotel, please call 0812220002.

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Chinese arrival figures to exceedexpectations

The number of inbound tourists from China is set toexceed the 100,000 target set for this year, powered by record breaking arrivals in July to coincide with the Esala Maha Perahera, due to mega promotions conducted by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau. “We used to participate at only travel fairs and arrange media and agent familiarization tours during the past as main activities for China.

However in 2013 and 2014, we conducted mega promotional campaigns in Beijing and Shanghai,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Director of Marketing Madhubani Perera spoke of the reasons for the recent success.

According to statistics published by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, the number of arrivals from China this year till July stood at 67,408, compared to the 27,599 for the same period last year, showing a mammoth 144.2 percent increase, surpassing 54,288 total number of arrivals for the whole of last year.

This July, 15,178 tourists arrived from China recording a 172.2 per cent increase year-on-year compared to 5,576 arrivals in July last year, and 8,345 arrivals in June. Other than the Kandy Pageant, the numbers were also bolstered by the establishment of a charter flight service. “From July 2014 onwards, a charter flight is in operation every Tuesday with 160 passengers from Chongqing, and furthermore during the Kandy Perahera season, the numbers have also increased,” Perera noted.

She also expressed her belief that the numbers in October would surpass the 10,000 arrivals mark due to 2nd semi-annual Golden Week Holiday in China, falling on the first week of October following the celebrations of their National Day on the 1st of the month.

The first Golden Week Holiday which occurred during the week of January 31st to February 6th also saw tourist arrivals of over 10,000 for both months from China, validating her theory.

Bus advertising campaigns are currently being conducted in 4 major cities in China, while mega promotions are also planned to be carried out in Guangzhou and Chengdu next year along with a road show in Xiamen to coincide with the annual Guangzhou International Travel Fair in March.

According to Perera, who spoke at the Fujian Tourism Promotion Week launch recently, 15,000 Sri Lankans travel to China annually, and speaking from experience, urged more Sri Lankans to travel to China as well. Bilateral tourism has been promoted since Sri Lanka broke through to the Chinese market with an approved destination status in 2002, and Perera hopes the burgeoning tourism would lead to further development of bilateral business partnerships.

Meanwhile, the highest number of tourist arrivals in July was claimed by India with 19,277 followed by the UK with 16, 424, while the total for the month stood at 133,971.

The total number of arrivals to the island this year through July was recorded at 861,325; lagging slightly below on average on the way to a 1.5 million tourists target set by the authorities.

However, the upcoming peak season coinciding with the European winter is set to see the numbers through, with the Western European region contributing the dominant share of arrivals so far with 278,667 with the UK comprising 82,815 of it.

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Dollar spending per night by a tourist in Sri Lanka is US $ 180, demonstrating an improvement during the recent past

Sri Lanka tourism industry should move away from merely targeting large visitor volumes, and strive to attract the high-spending segment who stay longer periods, according to a top global travel and tourism professional.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Chief Executive Officer Martin J Craigs believes that measurements based on largest tourist arrivals could be misleading. “That isn’t your ultimate aspiration. Your aspiration is to get highpaying international tourists who will stay longer,” he said. Sri Lanka Tourism counts a person who at least stays single night in the country (but not exceeding 12-months) as a tourist, based on the United Nations standard of defining a tourist. Sri Lanka boasts of double digit growths in arrival figures every month on a Year-onYe a r ( Yo Y ) basis.  During the first 7-months, tourist arrivals to the country has grown by 24.7 percent (YoY) to 861, 324 while India becoming the single largest market with more than 15 percent or 133,515 (up 24.5 percent YoY) arrivals.

On average, a tourist stays between eight to ten days (tourist nights) in Sri Lanka.

Based on the 7-months tourism earnings of US $ 1.24 billion released just last week by the Central Bank, dollar spending per night by a tourist in Sri Lanka is US $ 180, demonstrating an improvement during the recent past.

In recent times, Sri Lanka Tourism has been striving hard to tap the huge Chinese outbound tourism market to attract the high spending Chinese travelers through various campaigns. During the first 7-months in 2014 alone, Chinese arrivals to Sri Lanka soared by as much as 144 percent YoY to 67,408.

Speaking at the PATA Sri Lanka Chapter Annual General Meeting held last week, Craigs said Australia as a tourist destination ranked 37, based on arrivals but they are ranked 7th based on overall tourist spending and more importantly they are the first in the world for highest spend per tourist, per day figure. However a senior tourism professional and a past President of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka, Srilal Miththapala doubts whether all these arrival figures in Sri Lanka translate in to high spenders because of the ‘diaspora factor’ which constitute of at least 15-20 percent of overall arrival figures.

“These ‘tourists’, recorded by the Department of Emigration, are foreign passport holders, but Sri Lankan Expatriates returning to visit friends and relatives who would normally not patronize hotels, but stay with ‘friends and relatives,” he said last year.

Post-conflict Sri Lanka has seen a huge jump in tourist arrival numbers which even dipped to below 450,000 during the conflict, but still the largest arrivals are from the traditional markets such as United Kingdom and Western Europe.

Sri Lanka Tourism targets at least 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year and 2.5 million in 2016. Pic by : Pradeep Dilrukshana

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Club Hotel Dolphin, AVANI Kalutara Resort recognised as top hotel partners 2014

Club Hotel Dolphin and AVANI Kalutara Resort have been bestowed with the ‘Top Hotel Partner Award 2014’ by Schauinsland Reisen, one of the largest Tour Operators in Germany. Both Club Hotel Dolphin and AVANI Kalutara Resort are managed by Serendib Leisure Management, which is a subsidiary of the diversified Hemas Group of Companies.

The Top Hotel Partner Award is awarded based on fairness, flexibility and loyalty in business carried out between the hotels and the Tour Operator and on the positive guest comments. Out of the 35 hotel partners that Schauinsland Reisen is working with in Sri Lanka, only five hotels have won this award and Serendib Leisure is proud to be the recipient of two of these five awards. Serendib Leisure Director – Sales and Marketing Suranjith de Fonseka commented on the accolade, “We are delighted to be awarded the Top Hotel Partner Award 2014 by Schauinsland Reisen. He also added, “We strive to offer our customers a memorable experience and also maintain a good and fair relationship with all our partners and this accolade affirm our efforts towards this initiative.”

Club Hotel Dolphin is situated in Waikkal, Negombo and is easily accessible from Colombo. The Hotel features two swimming pools including the longest swimming pool in south Asia, and offers the widest range of activities on offer in any hotel in Sri Lanka. Guests at Club Hotel Dolphin can engage in anything from horse-riding to archery, kayaking and beach volleyball in its ‘play’ side. However, the hotel distinguishes itself through its ‘dual personality’ and also boasts of a ‘pause’ side, where guests are equally afforded the luxury of peace and tranquillity in the quiet side of the hotel – where sipping a cocktail by the pool, having a candle-lit dinner or rejuvenating with a relaxing spa treatment is the order of the day.
AVANI Kalutara Resort on the other hand is situated in a unique habitat in the middle of lush greenery, and is surrounded by water on three sides. The hotel consists of a total of 103 rooms and is ideal for the guest looking for a quiet holiday with some pampering. The hotel consists of extensive grounds with a lagoon as well as beach frontage, and offers its guests some stunning vistas and breath-taking sunsets. The hotel also boasts a spa managed by Spa Ceylon Ayurveda. AVANI Kalutara also offers Conference hall facilities for corporate clients and could provide all modern amenities required to make any conference event successful.

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Asia Leisure plan for 100 room luxury hotel in Galle Total investment of Rs. 1.8 bn

Asia Leisure, a fully owned subsidiary of Asia Capital PLC (ACAP) today announced the construction of a 100 room luxury resort in Galle, which is expected to be the largest hotel property in the southern coastal town. Asia Leisure currently owns and manages four globally acclaimed luxury boutique hotels in the south – Shinagawa Beach, Tamarind Hill, The River House and Taprobana (opening in 3 weeks). Asia Leisure at present has a 70 room inventory and the new property will more than double its inventory to 170 keys.

A press release said: ‘The property will be built on 2-acres of fine beachfront real estate and will be financed equally by Asia Capital and its Japanese partners. Construction is expected to begin at the end of the year and will take approximately two years to be completed.

‘Speaking about the launch of this new property Stefan Abeyesinhe, the CEO of ACAP said, “As Sri Lanka surges towards becoming a tourism hub, the country has commanded keen interest from global tourism players, with its room inventory expanding through large volumes of foreign direct investments. Given the bullish prospects for tourism, our growing expertise in the leisure sector is of immense strength to the Group’s future. It is with a sense of optimism and accomplishment that we unveil this, our fifth and largest property to date.”

‘Explaining the reasons for investing in this project Jin Sashida, the Chairman and CEO of City Creation Holdings Inc said, “The main reason I chose to invest in this project is because I realized that Asia Capital and City Creation Holdings share a very similar goal and vision. Also, Sri Lanka’s economy has been showing healthy growth over the past few years and we are fully confident that under this government this trend will only improve. This is promising for Sri Lanka as a whole and we are very happy to be part of the development of this country.”

‘The resort will consist of 100 sea view rooms/suites with all luxury amenities including the options of double bath or plunge pool and will be built under the ‘without boundaries’ concept. The hotel will also consist of a large swimming pool overlooking the Indian Ocean and will feature a Pool Bar and Water Lounge. The spa will offer the finest of therapies and treatments one could ask for while the restaurants add more spice to the stay in the hotel, coupled with the sea breeze and excellent service offered by the hotel staff.

‘The company is also in discussions with two international hotel operators for the management of the property but may also opt to undertake the management themselves considering the experience and knowledge gained from managing its other four properties. Given that Asia Leisure already engages in hotel management, the company has implemented a strategic plan to manage other properties. Asia Leisure has already negotiated for three more hotels in which Asia Leisure would either manage the operations of or have minority financial interest depending on the hotel’s requirements. Hotelier Reyhan Morris, the CEO of Asia Leisure and his team have been brought in due to their expertise and capabilities to take Asia Leisure to the next sphere.

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