Sri Lankan delegation at ITB meets key German stakeholders

Meeting with DRV German Travel Association (from left): SLTPB Managing

Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam, Ambassador of Sri Lanka for

Germany Karunasena Hettiarachchi, DRV Managing Director Dirk Inger,

Sri Lanka Embassy First Secretary and Head of Chancery Ahamad Razee,

DRV Head of Political Affairs Volker Adams 

Meeting with Lufthansa Group (from left): Director Marketing Madubhani Perera, Sri Lanka Embassy First Secretary and Head of Chancery Ahamad Razee, SLTPB Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam, Lufthansa Group Head of Policy Dr. Kay Lindemann and Ambassador of Sri Lanka for Germany Karunasena Hettiarachchi 

Meeting with Etihad and Minister Amaratunga

ITB Berlin is an excellent platform to interact with high level tourism stakeholders and key decision makers from many tourisms related industries globally.

Improving and creating direct airline connectivity from Europe to Sri Lanka and linking up with German Travel Associations were some of the major focus areas of the Sri Lankan delegation which included Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga, Senior Advisor to the Minister Felix Rodrigo, Sri Lanka Honorary Consul of Germany Nihal Samarasinghe, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam, and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Director Marketing Madhubani Perera.

Managing Director Dirk Inger and Head of Political Affairs Volker Adams, of the Deutscher Reise Verband (DRV) known as German Travel Association was optimistic on arranging a trade familiarisation tour of Sri Lanka for a large group of members of their association. This was expressed at the meeting held during ITB 2018 with DRV, senior officials of SLTPB and Sri Lanka Embassy in Germany.

Welcoming the proposal, the SLTPB MD assured DRV that Sri Lanka Tourism in collaboration with the tourism industry stakeholders of Sri Lanka would provide the necessary support which will have a mutual benefit for Germany and Sri Lanka. Facilitation of the tour in Sri Lanka and arrangement of B2B sessions were also discussed at the meeting to make the trade familiarisation tour a success.

DRV is a leading travel association consisting of tour operators, travel agents as well as associated members such as airlines, railways linked to the tourism industry. DRV represents approximately 85% of the total revenue of the German travel and agency tour operator market. DRV supports the interest of small, mid-size and large companies in the travel industry in Germany. Hosting such an event in Sri Lanka will pave the way to gain new contacts within the German tourism industry.

With regards to direct air connectivity, Vice President of Edelweisss Airlines met senior officials of Sri Lanka Tourism to discuss promotional activities related to its inaugural flight to Sri Lanka in November 2018. Edelweiss is a Swiss upmarket leisure airline wholly owned by Swiss International Airline which is part of the Lufthansa Group. In the lead up to the inaugural flight, SLTPB agreed to arrange a group of high profile foreign journalists and bloggers on a familiarisation tour of Sri Lanka. This will ensure maximum support to make this venture a success. Additionally, number of promotional activities, are being planned by the airline to create awareness of the destination.

Lufthansa group Head of Corporate Affairs Dr. Kay Lindemann expressed interest to start direct connectivity with Eurowings, which is a German based airline of Lufthansa group catering to travellers. Discussions were also held with Condor Airlines, a German leisure airline based in Frankfurt to explore the possibility of commencing direct flights to Colombo.

Etihad VP, Marketing Partnership Patrick Pierce was optimistic on the growth potential in the European-Colombo sector for leisure travel. Minister Amaratunga who chaired the meeting requested for greater co-operation with the airline to bring more traffic to Sri Lanka. At the meeting, Etihad offered complimentary airline tickets to the winners of the social media competition carried out by Sri Lanka Tourism during ITB.

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EDB teams with international expert Dr. Franz Linser to foster medical and wellness tourism sector

The EDB organised a wellness tourism seminar with Dr. Franz Linser, international wellness tourism expert from Austria on 27 February at the EDB. Around 70 participants from the Ayurveda resorts, Spa centers, Private hospitals, travel companies and tourism consultants participated this seminar along with some government officials overlook this sector.

Dr. Linser is the Managing Director of Linser Hospitality, Austria and much sought-after guest speaker in international wellness forums. Dr. Linser has more than 20 years of experience in the luxury wellness and spa industry and expert in developing innovative state-of the-art health and wellness projects.

Linser set up his first own business, a consulting company developing health concepts for the upper level hotel industry as well as health seminars for a demanding luxury hotel clientele and engaged in numerous international projects in health and wellness tourism. Dr. Linser established Austria’s largest wellness cluster with 100+ companies today.

In 2014 he was appointed as the Board of Directors of the Global Wellness Summit and he has been sharing his experience as a juror for several industry awards, such as the World Travel Award, the World Spa Awards and the European Health and Spa Awards.

During the seminar, Dr. Linser enlightened the audience on Wellness Tourism trends in European region and the opportunities for Sri Lankan service providers. According to Dr. Linser the Sri Lankan wellness tourism industry could attract the ageing population in European region and provide medical solutions with tourism attractions.

Dr. Linser highlighted the assets we have in Sri Lanka in the tourism industry and mentioned that Sri Lanka needs a well-focused product portfolio to promote the country through European region. The EDB provided the opportunity to Ayurveda resorts, private hospitals and travel companies to meet with Dr. Linser to obtain his expertise to individual business concepts also.

EDB Chairperson and Chief Executive Indira Malwatte mentioned the need of a blend of the two main segments, western medicine and indigenous medicine as we have well developed sectors. Moreover, she stated the quality of the Sri Lankan offerings when compared with other countries and the importance of implement a strategy for the wellness tourism sector in order to achieve the national export targets.

The EDB has identified the wellness tourism sector as a key focus sector and the Wellness Tourism Strategy was developed as part of the National Export Strategy (NES) of Sri Lanka, under the aegis of the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade and the Sri Lanka Export Development Board with the financial support assistance of the European Union, as part of the ‘EU-Sri Lanka Trade Related Assistance’.

The EDB is planning to continue this collaboration with Linser hospitality to promote the Sri Lankan wellness sector capabilities in target markets and interested companies can provide their inputs for this national endeavour.

Source :–Franz-Linser-to-foster-medical-and-wellness-tourism-sector/27-651375

Unique luxury and warmth with privacy at Ishq Villa in Talpe

Resident Villas, a luxury villa management company, has launched Ishq Villa in Talpe, a one of a kind luxury villa which provides a personalised experience to each and every traveller.

Located along Galle’s southern coast, and under two hours from Colombo’s international airport, Ishq marries stylishly re-imagined colonial interiors with much of the comforts and services of a boutique hotel.

Drawing inspiration from the Persian word for love, the four-bedroomed beachside private villa first came to be in the 1990s, a thread that now stands out among the original fabric of the island’s foremost original early ‘90s villas.

Ishq makes for a perfect wind-down coastal retreat; good food, wonderful company, reading, swimming, massage and wellness. Expect high ceilings and airy spaces both in-room and in common areas, distinctive traits of a Dutch past; large beds to sink into; low slung lazy chairs by the courtyard pool to catch rays on and spaces that engage the children in the form of a games and movie room.

Rise early for beach yoga with a personal fitness trainer, tee off at sunset swinging biodegradable golf balls that dissolves into fish fodder. Meals are curated in consultation with a personal chef and cooking classes are held out on the lawn, for the very brave, a market visit to hand pick the more exotic of the day’s catch, and for the more delicate, exploration awaits at a 15th century Dutch fortress awaits.

Boutique artisan shops and restaurants, are located minutes from ancient temples, rural paddy fields, snorkelling sites and spas to luxuriate in; don’t know where to start? A personal butler and a classic car are on standby for the experiences that most interest you, hassle free. Come sunset, the villa’s garden by the ocean’s edge transforms into a candle lit, palm fringed space for sundown drinks and dinner under a blanket of stars.

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SLTPB Visiting Blogger Program geared for aggressive social media promotion in 2018

Having received over ten million combined social media reach in 2017, SLTPB Visiting Blogger Program continues to progress with aggressive social media promotion in 2018 by collaborating with the world’s top virtual travel influencers.

Sri Lanka Tourism invited a group of international travel bloggers & social media influencers from important source markets including France, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Australia and Ukraine recently, to visit Sri Lanka and place it on the global map.

One of the most popular bloggers among the group was Ireland’s Janet Newham, who blogs at ‘Journalist on the run’.  Her most recent blog post about Sri Lanka featured the quote: “I never expected to find some of the most beautiful hotels in the world in this small, but perfectly formed South Asian nation.” Newham has travelled to over 80 countries around the world and has been awarded multiple international awards including: 2017 Digital Media Travel Journalist of the Year, 2017 Irish Travel Blogger of the Year, 2017 TBC Asia’s Upcoming Blogger.

Other influencers in the group included Karolina Coenen from ‘Around the globe’ (Netherlands), Laurane Philippot from ‘Web escapes SASU’ (France), and Nina Soentgerath from ‘’ (Germany).

The bloggers and social media influencers were carefully selected by SLTPB and were grouped based on their style of destination exploration and similarity in travel interests.  The group included some of the world’s most renowned high profile international travel bloggers and Instagrammers. The visit of international travel bloggers group to Sri Lanka concluded in Colombo with networking sessions, organised with the collaboration of Mövenpick Hotel Colombo, where Tourism Development & Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga offered his profound gratitude to the bloggers as well as industry partners for the support given to promote Destination Sri Lanka within the popular virtual platforms.

On her blog ’’, Nina Soentgerath stated, ‘In the north of Sri Lanka, you will find the beautiful, still-undiscovered city of Jaffna. In Sri Lanka a civil war raged for a long time, which was particularly intense in the North of the country. The civil war only ended in 2009, and Jaffna has only been open to tourists for a few years now. Jaffna is therefore not as touristy as other places in Sri Lanka, and is therefore a must for people who want to see the real Sri Lanka.’

As part of SLTPB’s Blogger Familiarisation Tour, a group of popular Instagrammers also joined up to create a virtual holiday dream about Destination Sri Lanka within their active followers bases on Instagram, which is about 796,000.00 combined.  The group included Stefano Ferro from Australia (with over 107K Instagram follower base), Loic Lagarde & Saul Aguilar from France, who are some of the most talented first generation Instagrammers. In fact, Lagarde was recognised as Best Travel Blogger on Instagram for Harper’s Bazaar and one of the Top 25 Flickr in the world during 2017, 2016 and 2015.

Another key promotional objective of Sri Lanka Tourism is to popularise ‘emerging attractions’ which has been given priority as an important focus area.    In this regard, the group of travel bloggers went to the Northern capital, Jaffna, to explore nature, culture, wildlife and most importantly to witness post-war progress made by both locals and the region.  As part of the destination exploration, the travel bloggers visited many cultural and historical sites and took the opportunity of engaging with the local life in agriculture and fishery industry in Jaffna.

Apart from Northern exploration, the bloggers were further taken to tourism areas, attractions, and activities that the inbound tourism industry expected to further grow and establish, including Anuradhapura, Kaudulla National Park, Parawiyan Ella at Badalkumbura, Uva Province, Ayurveda, Meditation, etc. The island exploration ended for the bloggers at the calm Southern sea by taking part in whale watching in Mirissa and witnessing a range of whales including the Blue Whale.

SLTPB expects these promotions will increase global awareness on the Northern capital, Jaffna, as a rising tourism destination, and create more direct and indirect financial opportunities for the locals via the growing number of tourist arrivals. Furthermore, Sri Lanka Tourism expects that initiating such projects will operate as a bridge towards ethnic harmony and progress as one nation.

During the year 2017, SLTPB Bloggers Program gathered over 10 million social media engagement for the content created by travel bloggers and social media influencers who visited the country. Some of the most creative content been featured in popular social media pages such as the National Geographic Travel Facebook page, UNILAD Adventure Facebook page and Beautiful Destinations Instagram page and went viral by reaching to over 5 million of their combined followers.

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Sri Lanka participates at Jeddah International Travel & Tourism Exhibition and roadshow

Sri Lanka Tourism highlighted its potential to promote the destination as a major tourist attraction at the Jeddah International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (JTTX8) in Jeddah, which was held at the Convention Center- Jeddah Hilton, from 28thfebruary to 2nd March.

Opening ceremony with Prince Abdulaziz Bin Faisal Bin Abdulmajid lighting the oil lampIn parallel to the main event, a roadshow was also held on 26th February, which enabled Sri Lankan industry participants to showcase their products and get the maximum advantage of strengthening their business partnerships with their foreign counterparts.

Sri Lanka has identified the Middle Eastern market as an important source market for the growth of tourism sector. Sri Lanka has participated at this fair in the previous years as well, and the Middle East market has shown a growing interest towards Sri Lanka as a preferred travel destination which has direct Air connectivity between the two nations. Sri Lanka Tourism was represented by Ajantha Rathnayake, Assistant Director, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.

The main objective of participating at this travel exhibition was to create awareness about the Sri Lanka Tourism products, Promoting Sri Lanka Tourism in the Middle East, especially in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, promoting Ceylon tea throughout the Middle Eastern region, and providing the local trade industry participants to have one to one meetings with KSA operators.

The industry participants were also able to share their experiences with the local tour operators who had been dealing with tourists and further promote the destination via more information gathered about Sri Lanka.

The roadshow hosted by Sri Lanka Tourism was held prior to the exhibition, in order to create awareness about Sri Lanka as a travel destination and increase the number of tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia, through presentations and B2B meetings. Sri Lanka Tourism was accompanied by leading hotels in Sri Lanka and tourism stakeholders, meeting up with Jeddah’s leading travel companies.

The Sri Lankan delegation included representatives from Movenpick Hotel, Centauria travels, Asian adventures, Holiday park, Walkers tours, Exotic Global Holiday, Lanka holidays .net and figco Lanka holidays.

Ajantha Rathnayake, Assistant Director, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau said, ‘’ Sri Lanka is a compact island with a vivid diversity of locations, beaches and everything that an ideal traveler requires. The Middle East is a major source market for Sri Lanka, and contributes a great deal for the growth of the tourism sector. Complete with the natural resources, wild life, beaches, picturesque locations and ayurveda, Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for Middle Eastern families who like to have a different holiday experience in a different destination’’.

By participating at the JTTX 2018, Sri Lanka was able to present its wide range of unique holiday experiences for the ideal traveler. The Sri Lanka stand, which turns out to be an impressive result of the creativity and teamwork carried out by Sri Lanka tourism was a major attraction at the fair, drew out a large number of visitors, curious to know what the Sri Lanka stand had to offer.

Attracting 50,000 tourist arrivals from KSA in 2018 with high spenders is also one aim of Sri Lanka Tourism this year, and also to increase the arrivals of travel journalists, tour operators and bloggers to Sri Lanka.

During 2017, Sri Lanka recorded 35, 481 tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia. Sri Lanka hopes to increase the number further by the end of this year, with the initiative of highlighting Sri Lanka as a compact and a safe destination for Middle Eastern travelers.

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Situation in the Country

The State of Emergency has been lifted in Sri Lanka and social media channels are back active. ( )

The Kandy district has fully returned to normalcy. Schools and government offices function as usual and tourism-related activities take place in the district without any hindrance.

Police curfews in the area have been permanently lifted and the law enforcement authorities have ensured safety and stability in the district.

Bans on messaging platforms (WhatsApp, Viber) and Facebook have also been lifted.

‘Ayurvie Weligama’ luxury ayurveda and yoga resort opens doors

Theme Resorts & Spas has proudly launched ‘Ayurvie Weligama’ as the latest addition to its collection of experiences. The resort opens its doors to guests, after the ceremonial opening held with the presence of Minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs Minister John Amarathunga, Ambassador of France to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Jean-Marin Schuh and other dignitaries.

Situated in the Southern coast of Sri Lanka, renowned for its tranquil atmosphere and magnificent beaches, ‘Ayurvie Weligama’ overlooks the Indian Ocean and is surrounded by beautiful mangroves and marsh land with a breathtaking view of the famous Jungle beach of Weligama Bay. The brainchild of Chandra Wickramasinghe, a veteran in the Sri Lankan leisure industry, Ayurvie is a Rs. 600 million investment which focuses on providing authentic experiences, to those seeking to explore, the best kept secrets of the ancient South Asian healing system of Ayurveda combined with yoga which asserts the delicate balance of the mind, body and spirit for wellness and good health.

This luxury boutique resort which offers guests specialised Ayurveda and Yoga retreats is designed to accentuate the indigenous Sri Lankan culture as inspired by the traditional and eco-friendly architectural style of Sri Lanka. With each room facing the Indian Ocean and the surrounding natural greenery of the resort, guests are to be transcended into an atmosphere of complete relaxation and serendipity. The spacious interior of the resort is designed according to ancient Ayurvedic concepts, focusing on physical vital factors known as dosa, dhatna mala systems and energy channels known as Prana and Chakra systems. Some of the resort’s unique attractions include its spacious spa, individual therapy rooms for its visitors and the specially designed areas known as Anitya; for relaxation, yoga and Buddhist meditation.

All Ayurvedic programs at Ayurvie Weligama would be carried out according to well-established Ayurveda practices of South Asia dating back more than 3000 years, under the supervision and consultation of well renowned and qualified professionals in Ayurvedic and Complementary Medicine. Colour and Music Therapy would be a vital part of the wellness treatment offered at the resort and each visitor would be individually advised on their nutrition according to the observations made by an in-house doctor. Sunrise and sunset yoga will be practiced daily with the professional in-house yoga instructor and visitors will have the unique opportunity of taking part in traditional dancing lessons within the resort premises.

While promoting the wellness and the good health of visitors, the Resort also focuses on eco friendly and sustainable practices in its daily operations. Ayurvie is specially designed to produce its own electricity with solar panels, generating up to 85KV monthly. The resort also maintains an organic vegetable garden to fulfil a portion of its daily vegetable requirement. As the resorts CSR initiative, the resort will be donating $ 1 from each room night sold to “Reconstruire et Vivre” R.e.V (Rebuild & Live), a non-profit association managed by the Director Board of the resort which conducts preschools and computer centres for the needy children of the area.

Ayurvie Weligama would be one of the very few luxury hotels which specialises in Ayurveda/Yoga in Sri Lanka. The resort offers guests a unique opportunity to experience a part of the ancient, South Asian heritage well preserved in Sri Lanka while exploring the secrets of Ayurveda, as they rejuvenate their mind, body and spirit.

Ayurvie Weligama will be the first Ayurvedha and Yoga Resort to join the Theme Resorts & Spas portfolio. The group already takes pride in its collection of Maalu Maalu Resort & Spa Passikudah, Aliya Resort & Spa Sigiriya, Mountbatten Bungalow Kandy, Scottish Planter Glendevon Bungalow Nuwara Eliya and Kithala Resort Tissamaharama.

Source :–luxury-ayurveda-and-yoga-resort-opens-doors/27-651271