Sunil Shetty to boost Sri Lanka tourism

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Suniel Shetty, a popular Indian film star from Bollywood, was in Sri Lanka on a short visit for a preliminary discussion on arranging a celebrity cricket match between bollywood cinema stars and cricket legends. The actor turned entrepreneur had discussions with officials of Sri Lankan Airlines, Sri Lanka Cricket Board and Sri Lanka Tourism during his short stay.

Sunil Shetty is a cricket lover and currentcaptain of the Mumbai Heroes cricket team in the Celebrity cricket league. In September 2015, Sunil Shetty launched a new fitness channel (Tata Sky Active Fitness) which is one of the biggest network channels to be launched in India in 2015.  Sri Lanka Tourism hosted a networking session at Galle Face hotel to welcome Sunil Shetty with the participation of industry stakeholder and media personnel.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/539892/Sunil-Shetty-to-boost-Sri-Lanka-tourism#sthash.70NmuaDd.dpuf

Sri Lanka Tourism marks Golden Jubilee

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The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau jointly organized an all-night pirith chanting ceremony last evening followed by an alms giving this morning to mark its Golden Jubilee which fell on the 2nd of May 2016.

A multi-religious ceremony with the participation of clergy from the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian faiths to invoke blessings on Sri Lanka Tourism also took place this morning.

The events were organized at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management and attended by the Minister of Tourism Development John Amaratunga, Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando, Ministry Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Paddy Withana, Director General Malraj Kiriella and other senior officials of Sri Lanka Tourism. Tourism Minister John Amaratunga hoisted the national flag at the Ministry Premises to commence the official celebrations.

While the religious ceremonies were held yesterday and today at the Ministry, the national events to mark the Golden Jubilee will take place from May 27th to 29th at the BMICH.

All four institutions that make up Sri Lanka Tourism namely, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hospitality Management (SLITHM) and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) will be actively participating in the national celebrations.

A commemorative volume, a commemorative stamp and a video film on the past 50 years of tourism in Sri Lanka will be launched at the national ceremony. President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Secretary General of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have been invited for the official ceremony on the 27th of May 2016 at the BMICH.

This event will be followed by an exhibition which will showcase the important landmarks achieved by Sri Lanka Tourism since its establishment in 1966 and will take place from the 27th May to the 29th of May.

The Ceylon Tourist Board was established on the 02nd May 1966 by Tourism Act No. 10 of 1966. This marked the official commencement of planned tourism development in Sri Lanka. It introduced the regulatory framework for tourism, paving the way for the development of tourism facilities and services as well as promotions.

Under the amended Tourism Act of 2005, the Ceylon Tourist Board was divided in to four separate entities; namely, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management (SLITHM) and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB).

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/539899/Sri-Lanka-Tourism-marks-Golden-Jubilee#sthash.6S0z5MV6.dpuf

Tourist arrivals up by 11.6% in April

Outside-lead-1-TouristTourist arrivals in April rose by 11.6% to 136,367 boosting first four months haul by 20% to 721,185. Arrivals from India rose by 12.3% to 25,890 in April whilst Chinese tourist arrivals rose by 37.6% to 18,927.

In the first four months arrivals from India grew by 27% to 111,514 and Chinese tourists amounted to 96,886, up by 45%. Arrivals from Japan rose by 26% to 3,172 in April and boosted the first four months figure by 11% to 15,106.

As a region, Western Europe continue to dominate with arrivals up 20.6% to 246,438 in the first four months and 39,243 in April, up by 12%. Arrivals from the UK rose by 7% to 12,006 in April and by 23% to 68,883 in the first four months. German tourists grew by 26% to 8,065 in April and by 14% to 51,515 by end April.

French tourist arrivals rose by 18% in April to 7,518 and by end April they amounted to 43,173, up by 13% from the first four months of last year. Eastern Europe as a region produced 72,662 tourists in the first four months up by 12% whilst in April arrivals declined by 3% to 11,285. Russia is the dominant source though year on year figure has been declining.

Ukraine has seen sharp growth of 79% in the first four months to 14,240 whilst in April arrivals grew by 76% to 2,338. Arrivals from Czech Republic have increased by 29% to 9,571 by end April. Middle Eastern tourists have improved by 12% to 31,000 in the first four months and higher by 6% to 5,800 in April.

In the first quarter of this year, earnings from tourism have risen by 22% to $969.3 million. The Government has targeted 2.2 million visitors this year. Nearly 1.8 million tourists arrived in Sri Lanka last year contributing $ 2.98 billion of earnings to government revenues in 2015 compared to $ 2.43 billion recorded during 2014.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/540024/Tourist-arrivals-up-by-11-6–in-April#sthash.RYxq6TiJ.dpuf

SL expects 20% jump in tourists from Oman

Muscat: Sri Lanka expects tourist arrivals from Oman to increase to 20 % of the total in 2016.

This was stated by Mihin Lanka, Country Manager Oman, Deepal Pallegangoda, during a Sri Lanka Tourism road show at Al Falaj Hotel, Muscat on Sunday.”It [tourist arrivals] from Oman is growing every year and we hope that 20,000 Omanis will visit Sri Lanka in 2016,” Deepal Pallegangoda said.

Talking about the main markets in the Gulf, he mentioned that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman are main source of tourists from the region for the island nation. “We are trying to portray Sri Lanka as the most attractive and most affordable destination this summer,” he added.

Other dignitaries present in the road show included Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Sultanate of Oman M.K. Pathmanaathan,  Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Assistant Director Ajantha Rathnayake, Sri Lanka Embassy Second Secretary Hiruni Rajapakse, and Minister of the Sri Lanka Embassy J.H. Liyanage, The country witnessed a 22.8 % growth in tourist arrivals in March 2016 compared to the same period last year. The country received 192,841 visitors, mainly from China and India.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/539608/SL-expects-20–jump-in-tourists-from-Oman#sthash.OkzljvMx.dpuf

First Arabic language travel guidebook on Sri Lanka debuts

  • Emirati author Heba Al Mansoori profiles splendid island destination

Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism John Amaratunga was presented with the latest edition of the only Arabic language travel guidebook on Sri Lanka, by Emirati author and entrepreneur Heba Al Mansoori. The presentation ceremony took place at the Sri Lankan Pavilion on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market.

03Sri Lanka – the Most Beautiful Island in the world launched at Arabic Travel Market 2016 by Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism John Amaratunga 

The Minister was accompanied by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Paddy Withana, Consul General of Sri Lanka for Dubai and Northern Emirates Charitha Yattogoda, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Managing Director Ruvini Dias Bandaranaike and SriLankan Airlines Ltd. Country Manager UAE Desiree Premachandra.

The guidebook titled – Sri Lanka: The Most Beautiful Island in the World, which was penned by Al Mansoori, was well received by the Arab-speaking world and the first 20,000 copies were rapidly sold out. The updated version of the guidebook, the first of its kind written with the specific needs of the Arab traveller in mind, is being produced to meet the ever growing demand from travellers eager to visit the beautiful island nation.

04Front and Back cover of Emirati author and entrepreneur, Heba Al Mansoori’s Arabic travel guide about Sri Lanka

Through the book, Al Mansoori, Founder and CEO of leading independent marketing communications agency BIZ COM and broadcast and print media veteran, presents a vivid image of the emerald Isle as a veritable tourist paradise, full of cultural and environmental gems, stunning locales, serene hillsides, captivating coastlines and beautiful beaches. All this in a style that is both understated but engagingly sincere.

Speaking on the occasion, Al Mansoori said: “Interest is reviving in Sri Lanka as an all-round travel destination in the Arab region and we have had constant inquiries at our offices, which is why I thought of launching an updated version of the travel guide.”

Al Mansoori was initially fascinated by tales of Serendib told to her by Sri Lankan members of her household staff. The fascination with the island took root following a visit with her family. “I love travelling and was totally enthralled by my first Sri Lankan experience. I have re-visited the country, discovering more fascinating aspects of on each visit.”

The book includes everything you need to know about Sri Lanka from planning your itinerary, bookings, which are the best hotels to stay, ground arrangements, halal food outlets, shopping, places to visit and even maids and nannies as well as facilities for specially challenged individuals.

Al Mansoori’s insights are particularly relevant and valuable for potential travellers and the book met with rave reviews from travel trade icons and journalists alike when it was first launched at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai in 2010.

Her fun, ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ delivery style, and right on target understanding of what would appeal to the Arab traveller, turns the travel guide into a delightful reading experience that literally takes the reader to the destination so they have the knowledge and tips to explore the locales better.

A complete destination, Sri Lanka offers the adventurous-minded a full range of water sports swimming, sailing, windsurfing, scuba diving, water-skiing and deep sea fishing. Boasting some legendary surfing locales, the serene waters around the island are also favoured for some spectacular diving. Compact in size, the island offers spectacular hill trails and nature trekking possibilities, all within easy driving distance of the capital.

Known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka offers the traveller with an opportunity to sample the wild natural beauty of the country including the scenic waterfalls, spice and tea plantations, bird and wildlife reserves, tropical jungle excursions and the luxurious yet eco-friendly accommodation. The country has beautiful beaches all around.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/539472/First-Arabic-language-travel-guidebook-on-Sri-Lanka-debuts#sthash.kUvc4dnO.dpuf

Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, SriLankan Airlines promote MICE tourism in France and Germany

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With the Government emphasising on boosting MICE (Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conferences and Events) tourism in Sri Lanka with an allocation of a separate budget, the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB), which is the sole Government body to promote MICE tourism to Sri Lanka, took part in MEEDEX 2016 MICE trade fair in France and IMEX 2016 MICE trade fair in Germany recently to attract upscale clients into the country.

This is a direct approach to bring in incentive travelers from Europe to Sri Lanka and the bureau’s primary objective was to educate the buyers and the media on Sri Lanka’s massive infrastructural development especially on new locations and products that are on offer for MICE activities.

The Sri Lanka delegation was led by Sri Lanka Convention Bureau Chairman Prema Cooray and the events were also attended by Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to France Tilak Ranaviraja, Sri Lanka’s Consul General in Germany M. Ranjith Gunaratna, Sri Lanka’s Honorary Consul in Frankfurt Nihal Samarasinha, SriLankan Airlines France Country Manager Danny Schepers and Germany Country Manager Sharuka Wickrama Adittiya along with leading industry members from Sri Lanka.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/538951/Sri-Lanka-Convention-Bureau–SriLankan-Airlines-promote-MICE-tourism-in-France-and-Germany#sthash.758dLzry.dpuf

Sri Lanka’s first suites concept upscale biz hotel Ocean Edge Colombo upbeat

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From left: Ocean Edge General Manager Tilome Nanayakkara, City Construction Contractors Ltd Director Priyank Gupta and City Construction Contractors Ltd Director Thana B. Sritharan 

Ocean Edge Colombo, the first suites concept upscale business hotel in Sri Lanka, boasts of luxury, convenience and privacy for long-stay travellers, befitting the country’s cosmopolitan capital city. It has been built with an investment of Rs. 2.5 billion. The Daily FT recently met up with City Construction Contractors Ltd. Director Priyank Gupta during his recent visit to Colombo, where he shared insights on this suites hotel concept, flow of travellers to Sri Lanka, demand for the destination, room for improvement and other key areas. Following are the excerpts of the interview.

 

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By Charumini de Silva

Q: What made you select Sri Lanka for this investment?

A: We were looking for opportunities overseas in 2010 and we were looking at several countries. In 2011 we first came to Sri Lanka because there was a lot of buzz happening soon after the war. We felt that there is an opportunity which might take a little longer than what everybody would have thought. We were not looking at short-term projects and but for long-term business. Hospitality was one of the areas we wanted to invest in and we wanted to do a business hotel.

At that time Marine Drive was not developed as today, but with our expertise we were able to foresee that this location would be a hotspot in city of Colombo. I still believe that this would be the most sought after location in Colombo in future as well.

Q: Could you brief about Ocean Edge?

A: The property was originally built for an apartment project and it was almost done in terms of structure and building, but needed some changes to operate as a business hotel. This is a Rs. 2.5 billion investment. We looked at several options such as a normal hotel, and we could have easily done 220 rooms in this property, but we wanted to be different to what others were. Therefore, we created this to a suite hotel for long-stay, business travellers.

We have four types of suites – Panorama, Superior, Delux and Studio which amount to a total of 78, comprising a living area, a bedroom, a kitchen and a balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean. If you compare it to a normal five-star hotel, we are vertically and horizontally bigger than those rooms, giving more space to the customer with a homely feeling.

The furniture features large storage space because we are essentially looking at business travellers staying over a month. We don’t have any banqueting facilities; it helps the hotels to make money, but for business travellers it is always a disturbance. Hotels worldwide charge travellers for sea view rooms, but 90% of our suites comes with it at the same price.

Q: Are there any special packages?

A: Yes, certainly. We have special packages for long-staying business travellers, which ordinary hotels are not offering. Although we are a suite hotel, we will still be in the range of a five-star hotel room rate, which is a good value for money for business travellers looking at privacy with home-away-from-home luxury.

 

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Q: What’s the occupancy rate you are looking at by the end of the year?

A: Well, we are looking at an average of 70% to 75% by the end of this year. We already have many repeat customers and we are confident of reaching these target.

Q: What is the return on investment you are looking at?

A: We are looking at around 16%.

Q: What further improvements are required to put Sri Lanka out there as a tourism destination?

A: I think Sri Lanka is heading in the right direction, with a slower pace. Probably the pace can be a bit faster, but being an investor you can always say that I’m a little impatient. The Government’s intention is in the right direction. If we can create Colombo as more of a destination, rather than a transit city, it would benefit more.

In the north of India, there is a small town which does three million tourists and the population of the town is only 7,000. It only caters to tourists from Delhi. Sri Lanka has a tourist arrival of 1.6 million and we are trying to do two million. If Sri Lankan can target one of the cities, the growth rate here would be more than 100%; but to do that we need infrastructure and resources, which possibly is coming with the help of private sector as well as the Government.

With the new hotels coming up in Colombo, I think we would become a destination for a lot of foreign travellers. Many people have asked me what would happen once international hotel chains such as Shangri-La and ITC come in. Would there be a surplus? I think it is the other way round; that is when we will see the actual tourism here in Sri Lanka.

The only concern is whether the supportive infrastructure at that point of time would be available in terms of number of flights to Colombo, manpower availability and so on. If the Government and the Tourist Board could provide those facilities, it is a huge possibility that we can make Sri Lanka a tourism hotspot and I think the future will be bright.

Q: Could you elaborate on the trends you see in business travellers and the mix of travellers you’re looking at in future?

A: It’s quite strange. This is a business hotels and we do have business guests, but in the meantime a lot of tourists come and stay with us. This shows that there is a big demand-supply mismatch in the tourist market as well. Traditionally, a tourist will only like to be in a hotel room, while suites are meant for business guests. The response for business travellers is tremendous but we are happy to see other tourists also coming and staying with us.

Q: What can you say about the talent and the skills of the staff?

A: We have around 80 staff at present at Ocean Edge. What I felt as a traveller is that they are of global standard. They are well trained and forthcoming. I’m fortunate to have such a good staff; I can run this operation smoothly because of the ability of my team.

Q: As a foreign investor, what were your expectations?

A: Coming from India, we have huge projects handled by big contractors, but the Sri Lankan contractors surprised me. They were in fact much ahead of Indians in terms of skills and professionalism. Hence, I owe a lot to them and again it is the same with the bankers, without whose cooperation we probably wouldn’t have successfully completed this project. They were very flexible and forthcoming.

Q: Are there any other investment plans in Sri Lanka?

A: We have a lot of opportunities. A lot of people have come to us for our expertise to finish their projects and have invited for joint ventures in the hospitality industry within Colombo. We are looking at opportunities as any business house does and one of them is the power sector.

We looked at power generation three years ago but we were not as motivated as we are now, after the blackout experience recently, because we always thought Sri Lanka was a surplus country. The only challenge in the power sector is that the projects are small and don’t give that critical mass for any foreign investor to come in and invest. We are open for opportunities and will look at them as and when they come.

Pix by Daminda Harsha Perera

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/538948/Sri-Lanka-s-first-suites-concept-upscale-biz-hotel-Ocean-Edge-Colombo-upbeat#sthash.YCeMfrX6.dpuf

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