Ukraine Airlines flies to Colombo from Nov. 6

Ukraine International Airlines will operate direct to Colombo from November 6.

UIA, is the flag carrier and the largest airline of Ukraine, with its head office in Kiev and with its main hub at Boryspil International Airport.

It operates domestic and international passenger flights and cargo services to Europe, the Middle East, the USA and Asia. The airline was established on October 1, 1992, and started operations on November 25, 1992 with a Kiev-London flight. As of July 26, 2013 the airline was owned by Ukraine-based Capital Investment Project LLC (74%) and Cyprus-based Ontobet Promotions Limited (26%). Hemas Aviation serves as the General Sales Agent of the airline.

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Colombo is fourth fastest-growing destination city in the world

untitled-3Colombo is the fourth Fastest-Growing Destination City in the world according to the annual Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index released last week.

According to the Index Sri Lanka’s commercial hub has shown a growth of 19.57% over the last seven years.

The Japanese city of Osaka has shown the strongest growth in international visitors (24.15%) while China’s Chengdu and the capital of the United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi have been ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Japanese capital Tokyo came just behind Colombo with a visitor arrival growth of 18.48%.

Overall, Thailand’s capital Bangkok was the top-ranked destination city by international overnight visitor arrivals whilst Dubai was the fourth. London was placed second followed by Paris.

Osaka was followed by Chengdu in China.

Neither Chengdu nor Colombo are in the regional top 10. MasterCard said Colombo has been experiencing a strong recovery in attracting international visitors after the ending of its civil war in 2009.

International visitor arrivals to Colombo steadily increased from 2009-2016 with a 19.6% compound annual rate of growth (CGAR) and in 2016 overnight visitor arrivals to the city are expected to reach 1.13 million. The visitors are expected to spend at least US$ 1 billion in the city.

In terms of expenses, visitors to Colombo spend 45% for accommodation and nearly 24% for food and beverages while nearly 18% spent on shopping.

The Mastercard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2016.

The Index provides more than a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world. It projects visitor volume and spend estimates for the 2016 calendar year, while delivering a deeper understanding of how people travel and spend around the world.

Thailand’s capital Bangkok is the top-ranked destination city by international overnight visitor arrivals. According to the study, Bangkok is projected to receive 21.47 million international overnight visitors in 2016 ahead of London and Paris which have been placed 2nd and 3rd respectively.

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French Travel Congress to be held in Sri Lanka

The government has given top priority to the JEV Congress that is to be held in Colombo from October 31 to November 4, 2016, Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga stated in Paris, France earlier this week.

The main congress will take place in Colombo and the key hotels that will be used for the purpose are Cinnamon Grand, Taj Samudra and The Kingsbury.

Les Journées des Entrepreneurs du Voyages (JEV), formally known as SNAV, represents more than 1,400 tourism enterprises in France, generating over 24 billion euros in annual turnover.

The JEV Congress is an annual event held in a top tourism destination where over 500 delegates, majority of them being outbound travel agents in France, attend the congress. France, while being a traditional primary market for Sri Lanka Tourism, also produces the highest number of incentive travellers from Europe.

“It is indeed an honour for us to host the JEV Congress in Sri Lanka at a time when our tourism industry is flourishing. France has been a traditional source market for Sri Lanka and significantly enough French arrivals have increased by around 13 percent so far this year and we are certain that with the winter season and the JEV Congress still ahead, this number will double in the future,” said Amaratunga addressing a group of 150 travel agents at a pre-promotional event in France this week.

The event was organised by Sri Lanka Tourism on the sidelines of IFTM 2016 Travel Fair in Paris. Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Paddy Withana was also present at the event.

Amaratunga emphasized that in today’s volatile world, Sri Lanka stood out as one of the safest places for both business and leisure.

“The primary ingredient for a blissful holiday is safety and Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world that can offer this today. In addition, the current government has offered a range of incentives for investors in the leisure sector making the country stand out as an attractive destination for investment,” the minister said.

Amaratunga also revealed plans about Sri Lanka’s own travel fair, which is to be held in Colombo next year.

“Today, the MICE sector accounts for around 12 percent of tourist arrivals to the country but we are keen to grow this segment capitalizing on the vast potential that Sri Lanka offers MICE tourists. In this regard, I must inform you that Sri Lanka is planning a travel fair of its own called ‘Gateway to South Asia’ in Colombo in May next year. As a government-driven initiative with private sector participation, we anticipate your support for this venture,” Amaratunga said.

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SLCB actively woos Chinese MICE clients


With China becoming a prominent tourism generating market including corporate meetings and incentives, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) in its efforts to promote MICE from China made an effective presence with SriLankan Airlines and the MICE Industry at IBTM China – 11th edition which was held at the China National Convention Centre in Beijing recently.

The annual exhibition which specialises in MICE (Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conferences and Exhibitions) was attended this year by 400 exhibitors representing 35 countries, enabling them to meet over 2,000 buyers including the Incentive Houses in China.

The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau was able to convey the message to all Chinese buyers that Sri Lanka has now emerged as one of the best incentive destinations and corporate venues for business meetings from China.

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Sri Lanka Tourism explores Buddhist heritage and culture tourism with Pakistan

The World Bank through the Pakistan Provincial Councils of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sri Lanka Tourism, under the Ministry of Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs is planning to develop vast Buddhist Heritage Tourism through a strategic partnership.

This will not only be a good opportunity to get foreign help to protect and preserve Buddhist heritage sites but will also showcase the expertise of Sri Lankan craftsmanship in building the ancient Buddhist worship sites , including the sculptures, murals and paintings promoting Sri Lanka as a great nation consisting of talented artisans. It will also showcase the scenic beauty of the pearl of the ocean.

Thus this attempt by Sri Lanka Tourism is a good step taken on preserving Buddhist Heritage and also showcasing the development growth that Sri Lanka is going through as a country. Partnering with the international community to develop Buddhist Heritage Tourism will definitely give a boost to the tourism sector as well.

Today many foreigners are interested in learning Buddhism and getting to know about the Buddhist culture and history, so this will be a great opportunity for them to get to know about it more, since Sri Lanka is a Theravada Buddhist country and the majority of the country being Buddhists.

In order to facilitate the preparation of this mission, an eleven member team of the concerned government officials from Pakistan with the World Bank Officials participated on the meeting of Buddhist Heritage and Culture Tourism. As part of their intentions of developing and learning about Buddhist Heritage, They met Sri Lankan Buddhist scholars and lecturers and shared knowledge partnerships and discussed about student transfer programmes and lecturer transfer programmes. The delegation met officials of Sri Lanka Tourism to convey their intentions of promoting Buddhist Heritage Tourism. They also held a meeting with the Chairman of SLTPB , P.M Vithana and other senior officials, and the delegation was handed a token of appreciation thereafter.

The foreign officials were of the view that “they can learn a lot from Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka can absolutely take off “. Thus the collaboration between Sri Lanka Tourism and Pakistan will certainly take the Buddhist Heritage Tourism towards a new dimension and mark Sri Lanka on the world map as a country which consists of scenic beauty, cultural heritage which dates back to 2500 years, and also depicts the beauty of Buddhism and its teachings. Later on the delegation also visited the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and the temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy as a part of their tour.


Fairway Holdings and Plateno Group open ZMAX Fairway in Colombo

Marked as a modern hotel with a difference, ZMAX Fairway Colombo hotel, which was constructed with an investment of approximately Rs.2.5 billion, opened its doors to the guests recently.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Fairway Holdings Chairman Hemaka de Alwis greeting each other

It is owned by Fairway Holdings and managed by China-based hotel chain Plateno Hotels Group, which is ranked as the 5th largest hotel chain in the world and the first in Asia.

Located in Fort, the 181-room hotel, comprises of eight floors and designed to cater to the business and leisure travellers.

Termed as smart luxury, it was noted that it is the first hotel in the city to have the concept of a food court.

“We are pleased to offer high-tech innovation and smart luxury to short stay travellers, all at a very affordable price,” said Fairway Holdings Chairman Hemaka de Alwis.

Talking at the opening ceremony, chief guest Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake praised Hemaka de Alwis’s entrepreneurship and innovative skills and his ability to turn anything from nothing.

He said that this would play a vital role in tourism industry, hoping that it would contribute to the success story of Sri Lanka.

Fairway Holdings (Pvt.) Ltd Group CEO/ Director Imal Fonseka told Mirror Business that the hotel was built targeting the Z generation, blending latest technology with design.

Expecting to put the guests in-charge of the services offered, it provides technological conveniences such as setting up the bill from the room with IP-TV, access to room with mobile phone etc.

He said they were concerned about hotel guests’ preferences as most of them prefer privacy.

“They need privacy; they don’t like non-hotel guests in the hotel. We don’t have conference or banquet rooms, weddings or anything like that, the only people in the hotel are the guests,” he stressed.

Another unique feature according to him was ‘One Hotel One Artist’, as the art work has been done by renowned Sri Lankan artist Anoma Wijewardene where there are over 200 artworks, one in each bedroom and twelve per corridor of each seven floors.

He said that her artwork revolves around their concept sustainability, which is another unique feature of the property. “We have used only one artist, one single artist has designed the whole hotel. I think there are only a few hotels in the world done by one artist. The reason why we chose her because her arts are based on earth, water, which is what we want to talk about,” he said.

This is Plateno’s second property in Sri Lanka, the first being the Portonofino Resort Tangalle which was unveiled in 2015. The group consists of over 16 brands, including Maisonalbar, H12 hotels, 7 Days Inn etc.


LOLC’s leisure leaps

The LOLC Group realised Sri Lanka’s vast potential when it entered the leisure industry through Browns Investments and knew it had to go beyond the borders of Sri Lanka, said LOLC Group Deputy Chairman Ishara Nanayakkara.

“The closest destination where we had missed out was the Maldives, where some other Sri Lankan leisure groups have thrived over the years, so we quickly came here and we were blessed and lucky that we managed to partner with CMEC and Nasandhura Palace pre-owners, etc., to create a much bigger dimension of resorts and leisure acquisitions,” Nanayakkara told Daily FT.

He added that these new projects would be completed in the next two to three years, adding to LOLC’s portfolio and boosting the profitability of the Group and the equity of the leisure side.

Locally too the Group has been expanding rapidly with two new properties under construction and four properties in operation.

Following is a breakdown of the Group’s new projects in the Maldives and in Sri Lanka.

North Malé Resort Development

The LOLC’s Group’s North Malé Resort Development will comprise three hotels on three new islands in the Maldives in partnership with China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC).

The three islands created by the Group comprise 75 acres and when completed in September 2018, the project will feature three properties – one five-star and two four-star – with a total of 470 rooms, 120 five-star rooms and 350 four-star rooms.

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Bodufaru and Bodufinolhu resorts

The LOLC Group is working on two proposed developments in Bodufaru in the Raa Atoll and Bodufinolhu in the South Ari Atoll. The Bodufaru development is a 60-room five-star resort while the Bodufinolhu development is a 120-room four-star resort.



Nasandhura Hotel and Apartment Complex

The Nasandhura Hotel and Apartment Complex project is located on the most valuable prime land in the city of Malé, the location of the former Nasandhura Palace.

LOLC has commenced construction of a massive mixed development project, with plans to open the new property in September 2018. Located right opposite the airport ferry jetty, the multi-storey property will be the largest mixed development property in Maldives when completed, featuring 15 floors plus one mezzanine floor.

The development will feature serviced apartments, a modern deluxe hotel with banqueting and conference facilities, a wellness spa and gym, a rooftop infinity pool, several restaurants and cafés, condominiums, a retail centre, offices and car and motorcycle parking and support services.

LOLC Group Deputy Chairman Ishara Nanayakkara said preselling of the apartments would commence soon and that the cost of the construction would be covered with the preselling.

“However, due to the sheer volume of inquiries, we are holding back and releasing apartments only in stages to ensure value creation for those who come in first,” revealed Nanayakkara.

The promoting company, NPH Investment Ltd., is a company formed for the specific purpose of developing and managing the Nasandhura project and is a venture between LOLC’s Browns Hotels and Resorts Ltd. of Sri Lanka and Alpha-Kinam Holdings Ltd. of Maldives.

With plans to complete construction by April 2018, the land area comprises 37,000 square feet while the completed project will have 400,000 square feet total floor area with 135 hotel rooms and 118 apartments, said NPH Investment Director Ibrahim Mohamed.


Architect’s impressions of the Nasandhura Hotel and Apartment Complex  

 New resorts in Sri Lanka

The LOLC Group is expanding its hotels portfolio in Sri Lanka soon, with plans to open the 400-room five-star Riverina Resort in Beruwala in March 2018 and 172-room Sheraton Turtle Beach Kosgoda in February 2017.



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