Archive for August, 2012

Dickwella Resort Unique Beach Vacation

‘Dickwella Resort and Spa’ is most probably the only resort hotel in Sri Lanka, which has access to the beach around the hotel as it lies on a small peninsula off Batheegama in Dickwella embraced by the Indian Ocean.

‘Dickwella Resort & Spa’ is the only star class hotel situated between Matara and Dickwella, enjoying the privilege of having two beaches and reefs offering a variety of colourful marine life.

Now owned and managed by LOLC leisure, Dickwella Resort is just two and half hours drive from Colombo via Southern Expressway, which has succeeded in drastically reducing travel time to the resort

‘The atmosphere is very intimate. It is a magical place. Everybody, who visits this place feel the same’ said Mirza Borhan, the General Manager of the Hotel. Located on a six acre plot, ‘Dickwella Resort & Spa’ has tastefully appointed 70 rooms in a form of four apartments, eight suites, 56 deluxe rooms and 12 family suites. Deluxe rooms all feature spacious bedrooms with canopied beds and sitting areas decorated with Sri Lankan style furnishings. All rooms have a terrace with the ocean view. Services and amenities in the rooms include a refrigerated mini bar, telephone, fan, air conditioning and daily housekeeping service. Suites and deluxe rooms are enhanced by unique artwork, antiques and upper floor canopied beds with ocean view. All rooms enjoy the sea view with a private balcony/verandah and hot and cold water with showers. IDD facility, mini bar complimentary coffee and tea making facilities are other attractions.

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Seychelles President concludes a historic State Visit to Sri Lanka

Seychelles President James Alix Michel arrived in Sri Lanka on 20th August 2012 on a 3-day State Visit accompanied by Foreign Minister, Jean-Paul Adam, Natural Resources and Industry Minister, Peter Sinon and a 15-member high powered delegation.

It was the first State Visit from Seychelles to Sri Lanka since the establishment of Diplomatic Relations in 1988.

Seychelles President was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Secretariat premises on 21st August morning which included a guard of honour and a 21-gun salute.

The bilateral discussions between the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Seychelles President, James Alix Michel were held in a frank and cordial manner, reflecting the excellent bilateral relations and friendship between the two countries.

President Rajapaksa extended a warm welcome to the Seychelles President and valued the role played by Seychelles in regional and multilateral fora in promoting and defending the interests of small island states. President Rajapaksa noted with gratitude the support extended by Seychelles at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Though the economies of Sri Lanka and Seychelles are not equal in terms of absolute numbers, both economies show some resemblance on their sources of current and potential earnings such as tourism, fisheries and offshore businesses.

The synergies, therefore, can be explored in these sectors between the two Nations.” observed President Rajapaksa. Importance of working together to fight against piracy with the view to protecting the sea transportation in the region, possibilities to enhance economic cooperation, diversifying Sri Lankan products and encouraging public private partnership were also highlighted by President Rajapaksa.

Elaborating further, President Rajapaksa welcomed the Seychelles President’s proposal on initiating a grouping of Indian Ocean Island States towards safeguarding their interests against threats such as piracy & maritime security, environmental issues & sustainability, terrorism etc. based on common interests.

President Michel, thanked President Rajapaksa for inviting him to Sri Lanka and appreciated the warm reception and hospitality extended to the Seychelles delegation. President of Seychelles lauded President Rajapaksa’s vision and leadership in ushering peace to the country and the remarkable economic progress achieved during the last few years.

President Michel recalled the long standing traditional and historical links between Sri Lanka and Seychelles, particularly in the colonial period. He highlighted the initiative taken by him as Minister of Education in recruiting Sri Lankan teachers and said that their contribution to the development and socio-economic well-being of his country has been greatly appreciated. Further President Michel declared that Sri Lanka and Seychelles being Island States should work together with other like-minded countries to protect ocean resources and harness the blue economy for the benefit of their peoples.

President Michel also invited Sri Lankan business community to visit Seychelles and to enjoy the larger African market through the Common Market for Eastern and South Africa (COMESA). While highlighting air transport and sea transport as most important aspects for linking two countries, President Michel invited Sri Lankan Airlines to fly to Victoria and beyond the African subcontinent. He also invited Sri Lankan Defence officials to share its expertise and know-how on maritime security and piracy with Seychelles.

The two leaders agreed that Seychelles-Sri Lanka relations have diversified over the years and that there is much scope for increased cooperation and to further harness the enormous potential that exists in the fisheries, human resources, economic, tourism, investment, education, health and technology sectors for mutual benefit. The two leaders also expressed their strong commitment and support to enhance economic cooperation, air & sea connectivity and encourage Public-Private Partnerships between the two countries, so as to deepen the people to people relations.

The two leaders witnessed the signing of Memoranda of Understanding/ Agreement in the fields of Health, Education & Training, Employment of Sri Lankans in Seychelles and Labour Cooperation on Legal Affairs. (Please see annex, the list of MoUs / Agreement signed along with the signatories.)

President Rajapaksa invited the business delegation/fact finding mission from Seychelles to Sri Lanka in order to identify the potential import/export as well as investment opportunities. Towards this end, President Rajapaksa stated that he would direct authorities to consider the possibilities of opening a Bank of Ceylon branch in Seychelles.

Seychelles President Michel assured his government’s fullest cooperation and support for Sri Lanka in the international fora.

Both leaders expressed their deep satisfaction on the outcome of the bilateral discussions which is a further testimony of the excellent relations and friendship enjoyed by the two countries.

On 21st August, the President of Seychelles delivered a lecture on ‘The Role of the Small Island States in the Global Tapestry’ at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies to a well-attended audience. Further, President Rajapaksa hosted the President of Seychelles to a State Banquet.

On the 22nd, President Michel met with a group of prominent Sri Lankan business leaders at a breakfast meeting, organised by the Department of Commerce, following which he visited the War Heroes Monument in Sri Jayewardenepura and laid a wreath. He also met the Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, Chamal Rajapaksa and thereafter he graced the occasion of the declaration of the Sri Lanka-Seychelles Friendship Affairs Committee.

During the visit, Seychelles President visited the Colombo Dockyard, Colombo International Nautical and Engineering College (CINEC) and the Navy In-shore Petrol Craft Construction Project (IPCCP).

The State Visit by the Seychelles President to Sri Lanka heralds a new chapter in Seychelles-Sri Lanka relations in pursuit of common endeavours towards strengthening closer friendship and economic cooperation between the two countries in a variety of fields, with enormous benefits for the two countries and their peoples.

List of MoUs / Agreement and Signatories

• Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of Health signed by Minister of External Affairs, Prof. G. L. Peiris on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam signed on behalf of the Government of Seychelles.

• Memorandum of Understanding on Education and Training, signed by Minister of Education, Bandula Gunawardane on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam signed on behalf of the Government of Seychelles.

• Agreement Concerning the Employment of Sri Lankan Manpower in Seychelles, signed by Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare, Dilan Perera signed on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam signed on behalf of the Government of Seychelles.

• Memorandum of Understanding on Labour Cooperation on Legal Affairs signed by Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare, Dilan Perera signed on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam signed on behalf of the Government of Seychelles.

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Sri Lanka gives nod to USD1.59bn worth hotel projects

Sri Lanka has approved 129 projects involving the building of 9,364 hotel rooms up to July 2012, deputy economic development minister Lakshman Abeywardene said.

A ‘one stop shop’ at the ministry of economic development which fast tracks investment clearances had received 217 applications worth 2.14bn US dollars up to July 2012, he said.Minister Abeywardene said this year Sri Lankawas on track to welcome 1,050,000 tourists in 2012 up 22.7 percent from a year earlier. Up to July 543,205 tourists had arrived up 16.7 percent from a year earlier.Earnings from tourism for 2012 was forecast at 980 million US dollars up from 838.9 million US dollars in 2011.
In 2013, revenues of 1,360 million US dollars were expected; in 2014, 1,740 million US dollars; in 2015, 2,120 million US dollars and in 2016, 2,500 million US dollars.

Sri Lanka protests UK travel advisory

COLOMBO – Sri Lanka is planning to protest a travel advisory issued by Britain, which it insists will adversely impact thousands of British tourists to the country, a top official said here on Monday.

A recent travel advisory issued by the UK Foreign Office warns British citizens of an upsurge in nationalism, sexual offense and anti-western rhetoric in the country.

In response External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunathilaka Amunugama stressed that the government would voice their protest and work to get the notice changed.

Sri Lanka‘s ambassador to the UK Chris Nonis has already been asked to take this up with the British authorities and we expect positive results,” he told media.

The advisory states that travelers should be aware that at the end of the military conflict in May 2009 has seen an upsurge of nationalism in Sri Lanka. As a result, anti-Western rhetoric has increased.

It also cautioned British nationals to make arrangements through reputable travel companies and exercise appropriate caution when travelling around Sri Lanka.

“Women should take particular care when travelling alone, or in small groups, and carry personal alarms,” the advisory says warning the female travelers specifically.

However, the travel advisory says that violent crimes against foreigners are relatively infrequent.

Sri Lanka’s robust post-war tourism sector continued to grow, posting a 7.8 percent rise in July from a year earlier, according to government data.

During the first seven months of the year Sri Lanka’s tourism grew 16.7 percent in comparison to 2011 with UK tourists marking the second highest arrival rate behind India.

Meanwhile, revenue from tourism has increased 24.3 percent to $459.9 million this year, according to the Central Bank.

Visitors from Western Europe have continued to expand with the UK generating most tourists at 13,643 up 13.7 percent in July from a year earlier.

A 32-year-old British man was killed on Boxing Day last year in the southern part of the island.

A ruling party provincial politician has been arrested as the main suspect and the court case is still ongoing.


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Sri Lanka tourist arrivals up 8 pct in July

Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka rose 7.8 percent to 90,338 in July 2012 from a year earlier, with arrivals up to July rising 16.7 percent to 543,205, data from the state tourism promotion office showed.

Arrivals from South Asia dipped 9.7 percent to 16,837 with India, the top generating market slowing down 8.1 percent to 11,564.Visitors from the Maldives declined 7.8 percent to 3102.Visitors from Western Europe rose 22 percent to 41,584 with UK generating most tourists at 13,643 up 13.7 percent from a year earlier. German visitors rose 28 percent to 5,852 and French visitors rose 30.1 percent to 6,189.Eastern European visitors rose 42.5 percent to 3,246 with Ukrainian arrivals up 114.8 percent to 956 and Russia generating 978 visitors up 27.2 percent.

Middle Eastern visitors dropped 45.2 percent to 5,491 owing to the holy month of Ramadan.

East Asian visitors rose 27 percent to 10, 636 with Malaysia generating 1,640 visitors up 23.6 percent. Tourists from Japan rose 30.3 percent to 2,366. Visitors from Thailand rose 90.6 percent to 827. Chinese visitors rose 31.2 percent to 1,966.

Visitors from North America including Canada rose 15.5 percent to 7,018 from a year earlier.

Arrivals from Australia rose 27.3 percent to 5,063.

In the first seven months of 2012, the top generating market was India, with 96,990 up 2.8 percent. UK was the second largest source of tourists at 61,618 up 5 percent, with Germany coming in third with 37,933 visitors up 26 percent.

France was the fourth largest source of tourists with 33,893 up 16.4 percent followed by Maldives at 23,704 up 4.6 percent closely followed by Australia with 23,838 up 18 percent.

Sri Lanka‘s tourist arrivals have growth steadily since a 30 year war ended in 2009.

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Sri Lanka Vietnam travel has strong potential: officials

Tourism between Sri Lanka and Vietnam which is just beginning has a strong potential to grow in the future, officials said during a familiarization tour of the county by travel agents of the Indian Ocean Island.

Senior representatives of 15 travel agents from Sri Lanka were on a familiazation tour of Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hue ancient city, Da Nang in the centre, My Tho in the Mekong delta and the bustling Ho Chi Minh City in the south.

“You will be the bridge to link the peoples of our two countries,” Nguyen T Phoung Mai, general director of Hanoi Toserco, a state run travel services firm started in 1988 to the Delegation.

She was addressing the delegation from Sri Lanka was headed by deputy head of the Vietnam embassy in Colombo Phung Trong Tuan and Roland Gunesekere head of Sri Lanka’s Safeway Travels at Toserco’s head office in Hanoi during the first leg of the tour.

“I think when we get back we will be able to give a better picture about Vietnam to Sri Lanka,” Gunesekera told the meeting.

Mai said representatives of her company had already visited Sri Lanka to gain initial information promote travel from Vietnam to Sri Lanka.

“But we need to do more research,” she said.

Gunasekera said Sri Lankans were already travelling to Vietnam but higher air fares compared to popular destinations like Thailand and Singapore put Vietnam out of the reach of some of their customers.

Gunasekera said Sri Lankans were already travelling to Vietnam but higher air fares compared to popular destinations like Thailand and Singapore put Vietnam out of the reach of some of their customers.

Tuan said a recent aviation bi-lateral signed between Sri Lanka and Vietnam could pave the way for lower fares.

The familiarization tour was supported by Vietnam’s Hanoi Toserco, FidiTour, the embassy and travel agencies.

Mai said in addition to Hanoi and Halong Bay, a breathtaking group of hundreds of karst limestone islets dotting a calm sea-green bay, tourist could also consider visiting mountainous areas of Sapa which has cool weather.

“We have a minority people there,” she said. “In Vietnam we have 54 ethnic groups with 53 minority groups.”

“They have their own language and culture.”

The familiarization tour was supported by Vietnam’s Hanoi Toserco, FidiTour, the embassy and travel agencies.

Mai said in addition to Hanoi and Halong Bay, a breathtaking group of hundreds of karst limestone islets dotting a calm sea-green bay, tourist could also consider visiting mountainous areas of Sapa which has cool weather.

“We have a minority people there,” she said. “In Vietnam we have 54 ethnic groups with 53 minority groups.”

“They have their own language and culture.”

Vietnam welcomed 6.0 million tourists in 2011, and in the first seven months of 2012 Vietnam had received 3.8 million tourists up 10.8 percent from a year earlier.

In 2011, China, Korea, Japan and the United States were the top four generating markets. While 1.4 million Chinese, 536,000 Koreans, 418,000 Japanese and 439,000, Americans also visited the country.

Nine countries generated more than 200,000 tourists during 2011, including Cambodia, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia and France.

Aitken Spence Hotels receives Energy Efficiency Awards again

Heritance  Ayurveda Maha Gedara emerged the most energy efficient hotel in Sri Lanka by winning the highest accolade awarded in the large scale hotel sector at the Sri Lanka National Energy Efficiency Awards 2012, which concluded recently. This is the second consecutive year that Aitken Spence Hotels has been recognized at the awards.

Last year, Heritance Kandalama emerged the winner of the Gold Flame award and this year Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara won the Silver Flame Award which was the highest accolade awarded in the large scale hotel sector. Situated on the south-western coast of Sri Lanka, the former Neptune Hotel was recognized for the efforts taken to leverage on innovative strategies in the area of renewable energy.

In addition to the Silver Award, Heritance Ahungalla and Heritance Tea Factory were awarded merit certificates in the large scale hotel sector category, while Bandarawela Hotel was awarded the merit certificate in the small scale hotel sector category. The hotels were honoured for their ability to demonstrate year-on-year energy reductions along with ongoing sustainability processes and energy management strategies.

The Sri Lanka National Energy Efficiency Awards is an annual national event conducted by the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority for private and public sector institutions with the aim of recognizing their contribution towards an energy efficient Sri Lanka.

“We are delighted to have been recognized for the efforts we have taken towards efficient utilization, conservation and management of energy. Our hotels are constructed and operate with a strong, focused commitment towards reducing the environmental footprint associated with the development and operation of a hotel,” said Rohitha Rajaratne, Vice President, Engineering, Aitken Spence Hotels.

Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara recently broke new ground by being the first hotel in the country to enter into a Net Metering Agreement using solar photovoltaic as the renewable energy source. The Government of Sri Lanka approved the concept of Net Metering in August 2009. Net Metering is a special metering and billing agreement entered between utility companies and their individual customers which facilitates the connection of small, renewable energy generating systems to the power grid.

In addition, the hotel also has a solar hot water system for pre-heating the water before it is sent to the heat exchanger which acts as a storage for hot water. This reduces the furnace oil consumed by the boiler. The hotel will be saving 1,417 liters of furnace oil annually thus mitigating its carbon footprint by 4.6 tonnes. The hotel’s biogas plant uses kitchen garbage as the primary source for the production of biogas which is utilized in the herbal preparation unit of the up-scale ayurveda resort.

Heritance Hotels and Resorts believe passionately in sustainable tourism and have been very active in engaging both guests and communities in promoting these ethics. Its sustainable practices have ranged from simple, hands-on activities like planting trees to more sophisticated areas such as on-site generation of renewable energy.

The group has a comprehensive energy conservation policy and has concentrated on reducing its dependency on fossil fuels by switching to renewable energy. In a first for any hotel in Sri Lanka, a biomass gasifier was installed at Heritance Tea Factory and thereafter at Heritance Kandalama. The gasifier reduces 750 tonnes of carbon emissions per year by replacing diesel with grilicidia wood. The use of locally farmed grilicidia wood instead of imported, and pollution causing, diesel not only saves the environment but also creates substantial employment opportunities for local farmers.

The central heating and hot water in the hotels are supplied by this sustainable energy source. This not only reduces the carbon footprint but also paves the way to alleviating poverty by generating more employment opportunities locally, while reducing the foreign exchange drained out on purchasing imported crude oil.

Heritance Ahungalla, Sri Lanka’s first five-star resort, is the first resort to receive ISO 50001:2011 certification in the world. With the introduction of an Energy Management System, Heritance Ahungalla is now able to effectively manage energy consumption without compromising the guest comfort. It has enabled the hotel to meet the current and future mandatory energy efficiency targets and requirements of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction legislations.

“Aitken Spence Hotels have been practicing sustainability even before the advent of the triple bottom line approach. We are proud that we have been able to follow in the trend that has been set for us by our sister hotels. This commendation reflects Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara’s commitment towards energy efficiency and we are delighted that our efforts have been recognized,” said Samantha Gunarathne, General Manager, Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara.

Aitken Spence is Sri Lanka’s largest resort operator and the largest international hotel operator in the Maldives. The group also manages a portfolio of hotels in India and Oman. The company’s premier resorts operate under the brand Heritance.


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