Aitken Spence plans rebranding hotels

In its South Asian sector Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings which has received regulatory approval to expand buildable area on the Maldivian archipelago is currently on the lookout to explore opportunities to increase its room inventory

Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings is looking to restructure its hotel brands in a bid to better elevate its properties, officials say. “We now have Heritance, Aitken Spence Hotels and Adaraan. We may go for two or three tiered branding and we are trying to overhaul our brands and make them more uniform,” a top official told the Business Times.

He added that plans are being drawn to construct a 20-room heritage property in the Galle Fort by the company on an 80- perch land which houses the original Shipping Head Office of Aitken Spence which was called Clark Spence Company.

The property will be tentatively called Clan House, he said, adding that since this is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Galle Fort, the developers will have to abide by stringent architectural regulations for buildings within the Fort. The official added that this will be a Rs. 600 million hotel. The company also has medium term plans to develop 100 acres of land in the Eastern coastal area.

“In its South Asian sector Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings which has received regulatory approval to expand buildable area on the Maldivian archipelago is currently on the lookout to explore opportunities to increase its room inventory. We acquired an island recently and a 160 room resort is on the drawing board,” the official added. He said this US$ 50 million project will break ground within the next six months, adding to the increased leasehold property portfolio with four hotels ( 600 rooms) in this high end tourism destination.

The managed hotel portfolio was expanded in 3QFY15 where the 50- room Japab Akbar Hotel in Oman was added to Aitken Spence’s management. This year, the company began revisiting its strategy of managing properties in India where it scaled down to two properties, although acquiring a 143- room brand new 5- star hotel in Chennai, South India. “We acquired this at an investment of $22 million and we will start operations in May.”

Source : http://epaper.dailymirror.lk/epaper/viewer.aspx

Sri Lanka woos UK travellers for weddings and honeymoons here

National Wedding Show London

With the view of developing new product segment for UK travellers, Sri Lanka Tourism took a strategic decision in partnership with the industry to showcase Sri Lanka as a premium travel destination in the UK’s original and largest wedding event, The National Wedding Show in London last week.

By exhibiting images of ‘One Island and a Thousand Treasures,’ Sri Lanka Tourism offered UK couples and their families a unique insight into the country on weddings and honeymoons insights in Sri Lanka for exotic and private vacations.
Sri Lanka Tourism stood out in the fairy-tale setting at the National Wedding Show in London depicting the country’s diverse landscape from pristine beaches, vibrant multi-ethnic culture with heritage sites and wildlife, highlighting elephant, leopard and whale and dolphin watching along with a very attractive centre image depicting a British couple getting married in Sri Lankan Kandyan costumes to showcase the unique variety on offer for weddings in exclusive boutique hotel properties of Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka stall at the National Wedding Show – London

The National Wedding Show – London offered Sri Lanka Tourism an opportunity to meet face-to-face with over 6,000 brides-to-be from across the country in one central London location. The UK wedding and honeymoon market is a lucrative and highly competitive market, with the average cost of a UK wedding estimated at around £ 20,000. With more weddings being planned outside the UK, and considering Sri Lanka as a highly attractive wedding and honeymoon destination, the wedding show was an ideal platform to communicate our message to potential visitors.
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala commented: “In order to cater to the traditional UK market, we are developing a new product segment for lucrative high-end travellers, positioning Sri Lanka as a destination for weddings and honeymoons. The UK market is expected to grow rapidly with arrivals exceeding 190,000 tourists this year and our promotions will focus on offering novel experiences for UK travellers in Sri Lanka in different settings that attracted a heavy footfall at the three-day exhibition.

The Sri Lanka stall at the National Wedding Show – London 
“The London show provided a good mix of customers and the crowd was extremely positive give the macro landscape change that we have seen in the recent past politically. Sri Lanka Tourism managed to cascade the message to couples and their families and disseminated a variety of promotional materials and brochures to promote weddings and honeymoons in Sri Lanka. We will now partner the private sector and develop this market together.”
The range of products and services on offer, the unrivalled number of wedding dresses under one roof and the investment in the show’s feature areas and marketing campaigns were all factors which were instrumental in attracting brides and grooms from across the country to attend The National Wedding Show.

The Sri Lanka stall at the National Wedding Show – London
The UK’s largest Bridal Catwalk Show provided a platform for the nation’s top designers and retailers to showcase the latest trends in London. The show attracted major high street brands with the likes of John Lewis, House of Fraser, Debenhams, Sandals, Moss Bros and Essie. The range of products and services on offer from retailers and leading wedding suppliers provided visitors with the perfect opportunity to order and buy everything for their big day under one roof.
During The National Wedding Show in London, SLTPB was able to convince the media about strategies and key objectives of Sri Lanka Tourism for destination promotions. SLTPB also conducted meetings with trade partners and trade magazines in order to further strengthen ties with all stakeholders of tourism sector in UK.
As a result of the participation at the National Wedding Show in London, major national bridal magazines including Cond’e Nast Bride Magazine, Style & the Bride, Weddings and National Wedding Magazine have confirmed visiting Sri Lanka during the next month to generate maximum publicity to position Sri Lanka as a weddings and honeymoons destination for UK travellers.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/2015/03/02/sri-lanka-woos-uk-travellers-for-weddings-and-honeymoons-here/

After 10 years, the tourism hierarchy at ITB

The world’s leading travel trade show ITB, which is staged annually in Berlin where the leading 180 countries in the business of tourism meet to discuss key trends whilst contracting the top deals for a country, will be represented by Minister for Tourism and Sports Navin Dissanayake, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Chairman Dr. Rohantha Athukorala and Tourism Development Authority Chairman Paddy Withana after a lapse of almost 10 years.
One industry stalwart commented: “It is strange, but the previous regime, whilst alienating the private sector which accounted for almost 99% of the tourism industry of the country in the decision-making process, also worked in isolation of the global community for almost a decade. We see the new development of the tourism hierarchy very positively. Now it is about fast decision making that is required given the entrenched competition.”
On 5 March at the main press room Sri Lanka will stage a press conference for the global community of journalists where Minister Dissanayake will lead the delegation on the theme ‘Positive Transformation and the New Vision of the Sri Lanka Government’ together with Ambassador for Germany Karunathilake Amunugama.
“We will also emphasise on the need for sustainable tourism globally,” said Minister Dissanayake.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman will continue on the theme, highlighting the positive developments of brand Sri Lanka on apparel, Ceylon Tea, Ceylon Cinnamon and Ceylon Sapphire and then zero down on Sri Lanka as a tourism destination on the proposition ‘One Island, Thousand Treasures’. This was a positioning that has been consumer-tested globally and received strong reactions to differentiate Sri Lanka from its competitors. He will be supported by trade partners SLAITO President Mahen Kariyawasam, City Hoteliers President M. Shanthikumar and ASMET Head Sam Tegel.
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Paddy Withana will showcase Sri Lanka’s investment opportunities in the tourism sector and the many developments at play, giving a glimpse of the potential for the booming tourism industry of Sri Lanka in the years to come.
The industry has been dogged by a tough January 2015 due to the elections, visitor numbers registering only 7% growth and escalating costs resulting in hotel properties just breaking even.
The total Sri Lanka delegation include 53 top travel and hotel entities which makes it the highest delegation from Sri Lanka in the multitude of travel and trade fairs that Sri Lanka will take part in 2015, in the backdrop of the aggressive drive the country has seen by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau in the last one month.
This included the endorsement of Miss World 2015 Rolene Strauss on the ‘One Million Tree Stories Initiative,’ on which Sri Lanka Tourism partnered Rotary, aimed at arresting the declining forest cover of the country in the last two decades from 53% to 29%, said Dr. Athukorala.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/2015/03/02/after-10-years-the-tourism-hierarchy-at-itb/

Sri Lanka Tourism gathers momentum at key Italian travel fair

BIT stand opening 

 

The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau championed 18 top company representatives in the travel and hotel sectors operating in the Italian market to showcase Sri Lanka Tourism at the BIT International Tourism Exchange held from 12 to 14 February at Fiera Millano, Italy.

BIT (Borsa Internationale Tourisme) is the largest exhibition in the world of the Italian tourist products and contains acomprehensive collection of the best international tourism products from over 120 countries with high recognition as an important meeting point of experts on tourism as well as on tourism service industries.

Customer interaction 

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala commented: “We are targeting revving up up visitor arrivals from 22,000 to 27,000 visitors from Italy in 2015 and the business model of taking part at BIT was only one of the initiatives. We will support it with a visiting journalist program and trade facilitation partnerships whilst also trying out new communication tools like film-based marketing to achieve the said targets.”
In the 2015 edition, diverse tourism products of Sri Lanka were showcased at Sri Lanka stand, giving much emphasis on tourism attractions to create a high level ofconsumer awareness of Sri Lanka to be a preffered destination among potential travellers.
A press conference was held parallel to the fair, with the participation of more than 40 leading Italian media personnel from print and electronic segments and the the participation of the Sri Lankan contingent which was a first in many years according to one veteran of the tourist industry.

Sri Lanka stand 

Sri Lanka Tourism presented a full review of the country’s tourism attractions and its high potential to cater to Italian travellers at the press confrence, highlighting the changing political landscape and increased private sector-led policymaking.
The Italian market is one of the most important tourism generating markets to Sri Lanka in the Western European region with nearly 22,000 tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka annually and this year the target is 27,000.
Since BIT is considered an important tourism promotional event, Sri Lanka Tourism has been participating at BIT regularly to create awareness and interest among the consumers and the trade. One noteworthy change this year was that the Chairman and Sri Lanka Tourism BIT Team Lead Shirani Herath met the participants before the event in Sri Lanka, to emphasise on the finer views on how to improve the impact of Sri Lanka tourism in the market, said a senior participant who has been attending the event annually.

Media registration at BIT 

The bureau is currently evaluating the event with quantitative and qualitative feedback from industry participants and what is unique is that 100% of the participants confirm participation next year, which gives a snapshot of the business success not only on lead generation but some converting to real customer sales, commented Herath.
Sri Lanka Tourism aims to achieve 23% growth in the Italian market in 2015. By participating in the BIT Fair, SLTPB was able to gather all travel industry stakeholders to drive towards one direction in achieving this goal, towards Sri Lanka becoming known as the ‘Island with a thousand treasures’.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/2015/02/28/sri-lanka-tourism-gathers-momentum-at-key-italian-travel-fair/

 

Bansei by Hotel J opens in Hikkaduwa

The first tourist resort of the Maithri-era Bansei by Hotel J was opened recently in Hikkaduwa by Japanese investor Bansei Securities in partnership with Jetwing. The 30-room Bansei by Hotel J was ceremoniously opened by the President Maithripala Sirisena-Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Government’s new Tourism and Sports Minister Navin Dissanayake along with Japanese Ambassador Nobuhito Hobo. Bansei Securities Chairman Toyohiko Murakami, Bansei Royal Resorts Chairman Tilak de Zoysa, Director Viraj Malawana, NWS Holdings Chairman Takashi Igarashi, and Jetwing Hotels Chairman Hiran Cooray were among officials present

 

OZO Colombo receives Golden Pillow Award for ‘Best Newly Opened Hotel in South Asia’

OZO Colombo Director Sales and Marketing Saman Perera, Sino Lanka Hotels Holdings Chairman Bob Kundanmal and OZO Sri Lanka Regional General Manager Alexandre Glauser with the Golden Pillow Award for Best New Hotel in South Asia

OZO Colombo was recently recognised as the ‘Best Newly Opened Hotel in South Asia’ by one of China’s leading hospitality industry awards, the Golden Pillow Award of China Hotels 2014.

The award is organised by China’s top financial publication, 21st Century Business Herald. The prestigious award began in 2004 and is currently amongst the top five awards for the hotel industry in China with recipients of the awards chosen through a committee of industry experts, editors, journalists and consumers.
Commenting on receiving the award Alexandre Glauser, Area General Manager for OZO Properties in Sri Lanka said: “I’m very proud to be a part of OZO Colombo as the hotel receives recognition in the international arena. We feel honoured to be selected as the Best Newly Opened Hotel. It is a reflection of the unique insider experience we provide to our guests through our innovative connectivity tools and quality amenities. In addition, our friendly team members are one of the biggest assets for OZO Colombo and help complete the visitor experience.”
Commenting further, Sino Lanka Hotels Holdings Ltd. Chairman Bob Kundanmal said: “I am very proud of the hard work and dedication of the team at OZO Colombo, since opening early this year. We were recognised for the practical and welcoming design of the property and an inventive concept with modern services. It is a great pleasure to see that this concept is proving a success here at home and also across the region to China.”

A representative from ONYX Hospitality Group (second from left) accepts the award for ‘Best New Hotel in South Asia’

Source: http://www.ft.lk/2015/02/25/ozo-colombo-receives-golden-pillow-award-for-best-newly-opened-hotel-in-south-asia/

SriLankan Airlines clarifies

In response to media articles published on SriLankan Airlines’ alleged lapses in safety, the Airline wishes to clarify and place on record the following:

The Airline has a Safety Management System, part of which is flight data monitoring on a continuous basis through the digital flight data that is received from the aircraft. This is used to identify any event that exceeds the pre-set profiles of the flight and is flagged as a deviation. Pre-set profiles are applicable to a particular aircraft type and sector and are in line with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the Airline.

The Flight Safety Section of the Airline monitors these trends on a continuous basis and identifies any deviations which are safety critical. In this process the Airline confirmed that it had not found any instances which exceeded the pre- set profiles which were safety critical nor any evidence of instances of Flight Crew deactivating certain functional and vital flight instruments/engines/systems in flights (including the IRS)  engaged in commercial passenger operations with a view to getting an opportunity to practising certain abnormal and emergency conditions, as mentioned in the Article  and as mentioned in quoted letter of Director General of Civil Aviation.

However, there was in fact a case of an inflight turn back due to suspected engine high vibration. As the pilot’s occurrence report had not given sufficient details to identify the root cause of the said vibration SriLankan Engineering requested Airbus Industries for an in depth report of the Digital Flight Data Recordings (DFDR) pertaining to that particular flight.  As per the report, the Airline found that the Flight Crew which operated that particular flight had deviated from the SOP’s of the Company. Immediately, the Airline appointed a panel of inquiry consisting of the most senior instructor pilots, which,  after due inquiry found that the Flight Crew had violated SOPs of the Company but not to the effect of simulating conditions with passengers on board as stated in the Article.  The Company based on the findings of the Inquiring Panel has taken appropriate action vis – a – vis the Fight Crew to address such violation.

SriLankan Airlines has an unblemished safety record and its crews have been trained in keeping with the highest international standards which have been recognised as such by the regular inspections and audits conducted both by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka and other international institutions such as International  Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). The last such IOSA audit was conducted in December 2014 at which the Airline was re-certified.

With regard to the other incident mentioned, SriLankan hereby refers to the entry logged in the Captain’s Report where the Captain, upon his return to the cockpit had found the door being opened manually by the first officer who has gotten up from her seat. The captain has de-briefed her thoroughly of the seriousness of the event and it was acknowledged by her. And the matter was handled then and there and closed.

SriLankan wishes to reaffirm that the Airline and its flight crew, at no point, had compromised on the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.- SriLankan Airlines

Source: http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=119356

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