Govt to offer H’tota harbour islet for tourism

The government has decided to offer the 100 acre artificial island of the Hambantota harbour to private investors to be developed for tourism activates.

Ports and Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga who visited the harbour on a fact finding visit said that they would also negotiate with some of the investors who had already shown interest in this regard.

The Minister said that the revenue they receive from the Hambantota Port operations were not at all sufficient to make it a viable commercial venture. He also said that they would also offer the oil storage facility of the port to a highest bidder without any favoritism.

Communing on the third stage of the port he said that the government would go ahead with it only if they find investors. “Paying compensation to families affected with the development of the Port too would be a priority,” he said.

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September sees highest tourist arrivals growth

Sri Lanka has seen the highest tourist arrivals growth this year in September, propelling the cumulative figure to over 1.3 million.
As per data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, arrivals in September amounted to 143,374, up by 36%, the highest year-on-year growth so far this year. The previous best was in July, which produced a 31% growth to record an arrivals figure of 175,804.
With the September haul, tourist arrivals in the first nine months were 1.315 million, up by 17% from the corresponding period of last year.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Dr. Rohantha Athukorala said the European tourists registered a growth of 11.2% whilst the Asian travellers, accounting for 45.2%, grew by a commanding 27.9% to reach 595,583 visitors.
“This indicates the changing trend that Sri Lanka will be challenged with in the future. Rather than focusing on numbers, Sri Lanka must generate quality tourism which is what the 2016 marketing plan will target,” Athukorala added.
Arrivals from Western Europe increased 26.9% in September with the arrival of 35,819 tourists, compared to the 28,234 tourists who arrived in the same month last year. Most of the tourist arrivals from Western Europe were from the UK (up 24% to 11,160) and Germany (up 18.5% to 8,292).
Tourist arrivals from East Asia increased 34.9% as 31,729 visited the country compared to the 23,516 who visited in September 2014. Arrivals from China compared to last year increased 54.0% with the arrival of 20,502 visitors while arrivals from Japan declined 6.2%.
Arrivals from South Asia increased by 41.8% as 40,498 tourists visited the island in September. Of those who arrived from South Asia, 27,233 were from India, corresponding to an increase of 41.5%.
Arrivals from the Middle East increased by 65.9% with 13,752 visitors arriving in September 2015.
Arrivals from Eastern Europe increased by 21.9% with the arrival of 8,601 tourists in September 2015 compared to the 7,058 arrivals in September 2014. However, tourist arrivals from Eastern Europe declined this year by 5.5% due to the economic recession in Russia and the crisis in Ukraine.
Arrivals from North America increased 41.3% to 5,419 in September. Arrivals from US were up 47.5% to 3,232 while arrivals from Canada increased by 33.0% to 2,187 during the month.
In the first seven months of this year earnings from tourism increased by 16.8% to $ 1.6 billion.
Sri Lanka exceeded its target of 1.5 million tourist arrivals last year and earned $ 2.206 billion from tourism. The Tourism Authority has set a target of two million tourist arrivals this year and 2.5 million by 2016.

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Charitable Tuk Tuk Run concludes 8 day adventure at Lantern Boutique Hotel, Matara

Charitable Tuk Tuk Run concludes 8 day adventure at Lantern Boutique Hotel, Matara
 40 adventure seekers including top corporate professionals from around the world have taken on an eight-day trip by tuk tuk across Sri Lanka–all in the name of charity. The travellers who began the excursion in Jaffna on Friday, 18 September arrived at the Lantern Boutique Hotel in Matara on Thursday (24) before visiting the Foundation of Goodness (FOG) in Seenigama.

The event titled ‘PMTT 2015’ combines two remarkable aspects – an avid appreciation for Sri Lanka’s bountiful offerings and a selection of worthy charitable causes. PMTT 2015, inspired by the success of a previous leg held in India in 2013, is organised by the PMTT Challenge Team in Singapore in partnership with the Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka (recently named ‘Destination of the Year’ by Sunday Times UK) is a top tourist destination for travellers seeking adventure, variety and warm hospitality. Most will have taken a quick ride by ‘tuk tuk’, a three-wheeled mode of transport beloved by inhabitants and visitors alike for its convenience and speed. Thus 40 high profile executives took on the challenging and undoubtedly exciting task of seeing the island from the perspective of a tuk tuk driver. 20 three-wheelers were commissioned for the task of travelling across Sri Lanka starting from Jaffna, to Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Kandy, Ratnapura and Matara, then onto the Foundation of Goodness in Seenigama and later Hikkaduwa and finally Colombo. Along the way they partook in several voluntary activities-visiting orphanages and elders’ homes, opening a reverse osmosis plant, and meeting schoolchildren.

In Matara they stayed at five star boutique hotel Lantern, where the team’s arrival was marked with an elegant cocktail event to celebrate their initiative in Lantern’s signature hospitality. Lantern, a private luxury villa in Kamburugamuwa that draws from the heritage of its lush, peaceful surroundings, is a supporting partner for the event. The guests recovered from their strenuous travels with the best of amenities; a pristine beach stretch, excellent cuisine and attentive personalised service courtesy Lantern’s intuitive staff.

“We were more than pleased to host the PMTT participants,” said Pratheepan Karunagaran, Director of Lantern. “Sri Lanka is such a beautiful country with so much more to offer than immediately meets the eye. What better way to see its hidden charm than via tuk tuk? These are the qualities we want guests to experience at Lantern too. This is a brilliant initiative by the Foundation of Goodness and the team in Singapore. We’re very happy to be a partner in facilitating such a great cause.”

Pradeep also noted that Sri Lanka needed to consider alternative approaches when it comes to meeting rivalry from an increasingly competitive tourism industry worldwide. Initiatives such as the PMTT Charitable Tuk Tuk Run are “perfectly poised to attract adventurous travellers seeking unusual and fulfilling holidays,” he said.

The event at lantern was further supported by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, One Galle Face, Red Dot Tours, and Southern Construction & Engineering and Haya Gallery.L02

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Cinnamon Air launches seasonal scheduled flights to Castlereagh, Southern Coast


Castlereagh aerial view​


Cinnamon Air

Cinnamon Air (, Sri Lanka’s premier domestic airline, is pleased to announce the launch of seasonal daily scheduled flights between Colombo, Castlereagh Reservoir and the Southern Coastal city of Koggala from 15 December 2015 to 31 March 2016.
Cinnamon Air will operate its luxurious and powerful Cessna 208 Caravan Amphibian aircraft on the scheduled flights between Colombo, Castlereagh Reservoir and Koggala which will drastically reduce the travel time between the tea country and the Southern Coast. In addition to stress-free and significantly shorter journeys, passengers travelling with Cinnamon Air will be treated to stunning aerial views of the island as well as the thrilling experience of taking off and landing on water.
Flights will originate from Cinnamon Air’s luxurious domestic terminal at the Bandaranaike International Airport at 10.00 a.m. and will travel to Castlereagh Reservoir, reaching the tranquil hill station at 10.30 a.m. The flight will then depart for Koggala at 10.45 a.m., touching down on the Southern Coast at 11.15 a.m.
Flying between Castlereagh Reservoir and Koggala takes a mere 30 minutes compared to approximately six hours by road, and affords clients an effortless means to explore nearby destinations including the historical city of Galle, a famed UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as the peaceful beaches of Thalpe and the growing surfing and whale-watching hub of Mirissa.
Commenting on the introduction of daily scheduled flights between Castlereagh Reservoir and the Southern Coast, Resplendent Ceylon Managing Director Malik Fernando said: “These new flights will be a boon to the time-strapped luxury traveller and will be the lynchpin of our unique tea and sea experience. Ceylon Tea Trails guests will be dropped off near the lake in front of their bungalow and later whisked away to Cape Weligama through Koggala, flying over tea carpeted mountains and Adams Peak en route an amazing experience.”
Cinnamon Air Director Romesh David said: “Cinnamon Air has recognised that high end visitors patronising the premium luxury properties surrounding the Castlereagh Reservoir and within close proximity to Koggala are becoming weary of the arduous journey they must endure in order to travel between the two locations, and that in order to make the most of their time in Sri Lanka a fast and luxurious transport mechanism between the two key tourist locations was required. The introduction of a daily scheduled service on this route highlights Cinnamon Air’s commitment to continually expanding its domestic route network and its efforts to develop Sri Lanka’s growing tourism infrastructure and image as a complete and easily explorable holiday destination.”
All Cinnamon Air scheduled flights operate in code share with SriLankan Airlines, consequent to which they are also available for sale throughout the SriLankan Airlines network and all travel agents around the world through Global Distribution Systems, under a ‘UL’ designated flight number.
Cinnamon Air, owned and operated by Saffron Aviation Ltd., is a joint venture between Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate, John Keells Holdings, MMBL Leisure Holdings (a part of the Mercantile Merchant Bank Group) and Phoenix Ventures (parent of the Brandix Group, Sri Lanka’s largest garment manufacturer).
The airline operates a fleet of two Cessna 208 amphibian aircraft and one Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft, with scheduled services to key inland points in Sri Lanka. Cinnamon Air also offers charter services to and between all airports and water aerodromes in Sri Lanka. The airline is based out of Katunayake where it operates a dedicated domestic terminal (within the precincts of the BIA) and also has its own purpose-built hangar and maintenance facilities.

Source :–Southern-Coast#sthash.0a9p2OV6.dpuf

Multi-stakeholder Tourism Leaders’ Summit a success


The Tourism Leaders’ Summit, which deliberated on a range of current topics with an emphasis on promoting MICE tourism and tourism opportunities was held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) on 25 September.
Organised by the students of first batch the Executive Diploma in Tourism, Event and Hospitality Management (EDTEHM) as their study assignment of Public Private Partnership and MICE Tourism modules of the University of Colombo (UOC), the summit was themed, ‘Billions of Tourists, Billions of Opportunities: Think Globally, Act Locally’.

The first Tourism Leaders’ Summit was convened with the Sri Lankan ‘Ayubowan’ and much pomp pageantry amidst the swirling, somersaulting Kandyan dancers to welcome the distinguished guests. The eclectic and experienced panel of speakers was carefully selected to address every aspect of meeting the needs of ‘One Billion Tourists with One Billon Opportunities’. Interestingly, it presented both the sides of the tourism story—mass vs. high end tourism.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) made history in joining the UOC to sign a Letter of Interest under the leadership of John Amaratunga, the newly-appointed Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Affairs. This venture will provide UOC students the opportunity to take the industry to new heights. The Letter of Interest is expected to link the industry with the programmes followed by the students to conduct research in issues related to tourism.

Further, two Letters of Interest were also signed between UOC and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority as well as between the university and the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Through such ventures, the university hopes to form industry partnerships when conducting research on tourism related subjects and thereby, gather information in order to take effective steps to develop the industry. This venture is also endorsed by Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), The Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET). As an organisation that performs a key role in educating tourism practitioners, the UOC is now able to contribute more actively towards a knowledge based economy. As a start, Dr. Rohantha Athukorala, Chairman – SLTPB, handed over 80 key topics on issues of the industry to Dr. D.A.C. Suranga Silva, Course Coordinator of the Tourism, Economics and Hospitality Management Courses – UOC. These will become the dissertation topics for the students. The findings of these topics will then be presented back to the SLTPB where it will be accessible to the industry through the Sri Lanka Tourism library. Further, plans are also underway to work out the presentation of an honorarium for research students.
Experience-based, high-end tourism
In addition, the presentation made by Malik Fernando, Director – MJF Group was extremely engaging and impressive. He stressed that Sri Lanka should focus on experience-based, high-end tourism, as there is much potential for the country to develop in that sector.
“The world has changed, tourists are not looking at the beaches or the conventional model. They are looking at experiences; meeting Sri Lankans, learning how to cook Sri Lankan food and understanding our cultural traditions. They are far more experiential,” he said. Adding that the fact that the country remains to be pristine and unspoilt as it was in a tourism cocoon due to the 30-year conflict is our biggest advantage, he said that authorities should not merely look at numbers.
“The way we at Dilmah and Resplendent Ceylon are looking at it is, we want to achieve $ 2.5 billion like the Government, but we want to do it with 500,000 tourists, not 2.5 million. When you go for mass market tourism, there is a massive impact on the environment, we do not grow enough food in this country. But there are other counties such as Maldives and Bhutan, which have gone for high value-added tourism. I urge all of you to develop in your master plans to take advantage of the fact that for 30 years we did not have the ubiquitous, mass-market international brands. We have a few high end brands coming in but the fact that we do not have skyscrapers and 10,000 to 20,000 roomed resorts is an advantage; because if we had that we would actually turn off exactly the kind of tourist we want lure in. The reason they want to come here is because it is pristine, our people are largely unspoiled and they are still warm. What we need is high value tourism. We need, not numbers, but we need high spend per visitor.”
The information shared by Dilip S. Samarasinghe, Director (Media and Publicity) – Board of Investment was insightful and gave the audience an idea of the economic potential of tourism in Sri Lanka. Another notable and educational address was by Rohan Jayaweera, COO – Antyra Solutions who spoke on digital branding.
Shashika Kahadawela, Assistant Manager (Sustainable and Green Initiatives) – Jetwing Group spoke on Sustainable and Green Initiatives for Tourism and Hospitality Industry. Mehdi Serrour, General Manager – Shangri-La Hotel & Resorts Sri Lanka too made an engaging presentation on the core values promoted by Shangri-La Hotel & Resorts and how they went hand in hand with that of Sri Lankan traditions.
Paddy Withana, Chairman – Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Dr. Rohantha Athukorala, Prof Athula Ranasinghe, Dean (Faculty of Arts) – UOC, Steven Bradie Milles, CEO – Colombo Academy of Hospitality at SLIIT/William Angliss Institute, Paddy Paul, Managing Director – Golden Isle Travels, Indika Vithanage, President – Sri Lanka Institute of National Tourist Guide Lecturers, Aasim Mukthar, CEO – Sri Lanka Exhibition and Conference Services (Pvt) Ltd.also made interesting and engaging presentations on a host of related topics.
Apart from the educational enrichment, the audience was aptly treated to exciting cultural entertainment. The vibrant dances included, dance of the tea pluckers, low country dances, the devil dance and most fascinatingly accompanying of the distinguished guests along with renowned Chef (Dr) Publis Silva to the stage for the group photograph.
The summit was moderated by a panel of academics and industry experts including Dr. Sepali Sudasinghe, Senior Consultant – Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA), Aasim Mukthar, D.L. Nihal, Senior Economist (Economic Research Department) – Central Bank, Gayan Pereis, Manager (Sri Lankan Holidays) – SriLankan Airlines, Srilal Miththapala, Institute of Hospitality (Sri Lankan Chapter), Saman Maldeni, Director (Export Services) – Export Development Board and Kanthi Bassnayaka, Director – Asia Pacific Management Institute.
Promoting Sri Lanka as a preferred destination for tourism, with a holistic approach, which focused on the aspects of investment, exports, people, culture, cuisine, government and e-commerce was the core objective of the summit. Another highlight was the presentation of the first Professional Excellence and National Contribution for Sri Lanka Tourism Development award to Chef (Dr) Publis Silva, in recognition of his contribution to the industry.
How to succeed
Delivering the keynote speech at the event, Sunil Dissanayake, Director – BMICH shared interesting ideas on how to succeed in the first three months of employment in the first job or in a new job role. He stated: “Transition to new roles are the most challenging times in the professional lives of managers and leaders. Success or failure during the first few months is a strong predictor of overall success or failure in the job.”
He added, “The good news on transitions is that you get a chance to start afresh and make needed changes in an organisation. But transitions are also periods of acute vulnerability because you lack established working relationships and a detailed understanding of your new role or the new organisation. You are managing under a microscope subject to a high degree of scrutiny, as people around you try to figure out who you are. If you are successful in building credibility and securing early wins, the momentum will propel you through the rest of your tenure.”
At the culmination of the summit was a cultural show, Wonderful Fusion Experience in Sri Lanka, Road to Culture and Cuisine showcasing the best of the country’s culture, cuisine and craft. The renowned culinary master Chef (Dr) Publis Silva presented a demonstration on traditional cuisine at the show, adding colour to the event.
The event was organised in partnership with the BMICH, SLTPB, SLTDA, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition and Event Organisers, Peoples Bank, Dave Tractors & Combines Ltd., Lankaloha Hardware Ltd., Lanka Wine “Montenary”, Rockland Distilleries, LG Smartphones, World Duty Free, Pigeon Island Beach Resort, Regent Spice Garden, Okuara Hotels, Excel World, SND Packaging, Lion Royal Resorts, Mount Lavinia Hotel (MLH), Dilmah Tea and Ruhunu Mathra.

Source :–Summit-a-success#sthash.QMCAGbYQ.dpuf

Tourism promotion in key markets

Tourism Minister John Amaratunga met with British High Commissioner James Dauris, Australian High Commissioner Robin Moody and Russian Ambassador Alexander Karchava recently to discuss new opportunities for Sri Lanka Tourism in the British, Australian and Russian markets. Paddy Vithana, Malraja Kiriella and Dinesh Weerakkody participated in the discussion with the Minister.

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Renuka City Hotel undergoes Rs.300mn refurbishment

Renuka City Hotel Colombo opened its doors to the guests after a complete refurbishment recently.

The Rs.300 million refurbishment, which took almost 8 months to complete has many new additions, especially the new extension, modernized rooms and the newly designed logo.

The project is an internal aspect of the company’s rebranding process, with Hotel Renuka and Renuka City amalgamating to become ‘Renuka City Hotel’ although currently it goes as two separate legal entities.

The property which is owned by the Thambiyah family, which was found in 1972, now boasts of modernized rooms with bright interior.

As a part of the revamp of the hotel, 41 of the 100 rooms as well as the banquet hall have been completely redesigned.

Speaking at the relaunch, Renuka City Hotel Jt. Managing Director Shibani Thambiyah said that the hotel has a long established brand with a 40-year old reputation for its products and services in its market segment and the aim of the recent refurbishment is to attract new and younger market segment so the legacy of the hotel can be carried on.

“To maintain this position, we have always evolved with the times and adopted to the changing needs of the market although it has gained much popularity over the years, among international visitors, local business houses, NGOs, High Commissions and embassies as a preferred choice for accommodation”.

With regards to the new logo, she said that with the new identity they believe it will better represent as a four-star hotel that always has been a preferred choice for travellers in the city of Colombo.

“We offer first-class services for affordable prices,” she further added.

Elaborating on the renovation, Renuka City Hotel Jt Managing Director, Arnila Thambiyah said now the guests can have a complete new experience when they enter the hotel as most areas from the lobby, guests rooms, banquet halls and the Palmyrah restaurant embrace a new look.

“Renuka City Hotel also features our signature hotel Palmyrah, which is also been refurbished. Palmyrah has authentic Sri Lankan cuisine with an emphasis on Jaffna fare for over 40 years, and it also has comprehensive continental Indian food” she said.

She also t old t hat t he brand new banquet venue will be ideal for banquets, weddings, cocktails, corporate get-togethers and conferences which could accommodate 20-250 people.

She also noted that every 8 years they refurbish the hotel to meet the changing needs of the guests as well as to keep the hotel fresh and modern.

The refurbishment has been done by DDN Design and Sanken Construction Pvt Ltd.

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