Archive for December, 2012

Lanka welcomes 950,000th tourist

Heralding the news of a prosperous future for Sri Lanka Tourism, the 950,000th tourist was warmly welcomed by a group including Udayanga Weerathunga, the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, Rumy Jauffer, the Managing Director of SLTPB, S. ShanthiKumar Vice President of Sri Lanka Tourist Hoteliers Association and Mervin Fernandopulle, Past President of Association of Small and Medium Enterprises at Bandaranaike International Airport yesterday at a special ceremony. Krzysztof Kujawa and Agata Dziekn, landed from Poland Enter Airlines flight no 1293/4, were given special gifts for being the lucky couple from Poland to pass the milestone, so that their next stay in Sri Lanka will be absolutely free.

Agata Dziekn from Poland, a Graphic Designer by profession, said; “After seeing the beauty of Sri Lanka via internet I decided to visit here to spend the holiday. I’m very happy to be the 950,000th tourist to visit Sri Lanka this year. I am really surprised by your warm welcome and the gifts. Next year, I am planning to visit again to spend a magnificent holiday with my friends. Things like this really do help in promoting tourism in a country”. During their 15 day stay in Sri Lanka they will travel Pinnawala, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Kandy and Southern beaches. This is the first time ever that a number of 950,000 tourists, the target of Sri Lanka Tourism for the year 2012, arrived in Sri Lanka. In the month of November,2012 the total number of tourist arrival figure was 109,202; the highest number of tourists ever turned up within a single month in the Sri Lanka tourism history. It indicates a 20% growth compared to the previous year.

Having identified Russia, Eastern Europe countries, Japan, China, Korea and India as emerging markets the SLTPB executed a new series of promotional activities incorporating the new strategies of the government. This campaign included travel fairs, road shows, major advertising campaigns and social media promotions.

The said campaign resulted in a greater contribution from the aforesaid countries. It also helped greatly in achieving the target of 950,000 arrivals. This year has seen a major contribution to this total from India, Middle East, U.K ,France, Russia and Eastern Europe Countries.

Also, today the involvement of a number of small and medium enterprises in the tourism industry has helped earn a lot of foreign exchange. Apart from the island wide development process launched by the government, upgrading of infrastructure, road development,the introduction of new segments like New botanical gardens , the expansion of Expansion Dehiwala zoo, the development of the hotels in the Eastern province and other parts of the country , the Southern Highway and city beautification programmes, Hambantota new Marine port, have contributed in developing the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.

In addition,the construction of Mattala airport, Katunayaka-Colombo Highway and Colombo Outer-Circular Highway are the other programs that will be carried out in future, to develop tourism. With all these facilities an increased number of 1 million tourist arrivals is anticipated this year and in the coming year the number of tourist arrivals expected would exceed that of this year.

The part played by the public in achieving this target is very important and the fact that tourism industry and the mindset of the public are linked together is seen as very positive to the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the role that the media played in all this is also greatly appreciated.

The 950,000th tourist at the Colombo airport

At present, the tourism industry has become a major part in bringing about the economic boom in post-conflict Sri Lanka. The peaceful situation of the country and its hereditary beauty mingled to attract many visitors around the globe. With this positive situation at hand, international investors have begun to expand the domestic market to cater for the potential growth of tourist arrivals in following years. For example, the construction of major tourist hotels such as Shangri La, Centara, Marriot, OZO is underway at present.

Under the guidance of the Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa, a five year strategic development plan has been launched for tourism sector for the years of 2011-2016, based on the Mahinda Chintana -Vision for the Future – Development Policy Framework. This strategic development plan of Sri Lanka Tourism will achieve its core objectives of serving the needs of all stakeholders and ensuring the economic benefits of the industry distributed to a larger cross section of the society from fisherman, craftsman, farmer, street vendor, tour guide and tour operator, up to the Hotel industry. Moreover, under the visiting journalists programme, SLTPB also makes yearly arrangements to invite 200 foreign journalists from leading magazines and television channels around the globe and thereby to enhance the image of Sri Lanka.

These journalists, after familiarization tours in Sri Lanka, are to write image-building articles on Sri Lanka, upon return to their native countries. Meanwhile SLTPB start a promotion campaign with The British airways in pareral to resume direct flights to Colombo from Gatwick, UK in March 2013. This is an addition to Lonely Planet endorsement for Sri Lanka as best destination to travel for 2013 among global tourism destinations.

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First-ever tourism coffee table book launched

Presentation of the first copy of ‘Refreshingly Sri Lanka’ by Dr. Godahewa to the Chief Guest, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa in the presence of other distinguished guests who attended the event (Pic by: Kushan Pathiraja)

Sri Lanka’s first coffee table book on tourism, authored by former Tourism Chief and present Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Nalaka Godahewa, was launched yesterday in a colourful ceremony attended by government ministers, ministry secretaries, hoteliers and key private sector officials.

The book aptly named as ‘Refreshingly Sri Lanka’ is bedecked by the mesmerizing photography of Dilum Alagiyawanna.

The high quality coffee table book -Refreshingly Sri Lanka- with 250 pages carries over 160 exclusive photographs supporting a comprehensive text of over 30,000 words, describing almost every key tourism attraction in the country.

The book covers the eight product categories of Sri Lanka tourism namely beaches, wildlife, heritage, Ayurveda, sports, scenic beauty, festivals and essence. It is a must read for travelerreaders to understand why Sri Lanka was rated as the most beautiful island in the whole world by the famous 13th century explorer Marco Polo.

The book forwarded by Dr. Taleb Rifai, the Director General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is artistically illustrated by Dilum Alagiyawanna, one of the Canon Brand Ambassadors, who works as a strategic partner for Canon Singapore in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

“Dr. Godahewa oversaw the emergence of Sri Lankan tourism from a three-decade-old war into an era of promise and optimism. Under his stewardship, arrivals to Sri Lanka almost doubled in three years,” says Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO in his foreword to the book. He concluded with the note, “Refreshingly Sri Lanka is a fine repository of the best of Lanka’s attractions and activities covering the various facets of Sri Lanka.”

Hiran Coorey, former Chairman of the PATA – Pacific Asia Travel Association and currently the Chairman of Jetwing group delivering the keynote address at the event pointed out that ‘Refreshingly Sri Lanka’ coffee table book fulfills a long felt need to clearly communicate Sri Lanka’s tourism value proposition to the rest of the world. “We all know why Sri Lanka is special as a tourism destination. But very few have explained it as clearly as Dr. Godahewa and Dilum,” said Cooray.

The publication of this high quality coffee table book has been sponsored by Canon Singapore and Metropolitan Group of Sri Lanka. Together, Canon and Metropolitan have supported many initiatives ranging from promoting sustainable tourism, culture and heritage to protecting wildlife, fauna and flora. Such initiatives include the support to the world heritage Kandy Esala Perehera.

“Canon Singapore Private Limited and Metropolitan Office (Pvt.) Ltd. feel hugely privileged to sponsor this book in partnership with its renowned author and photographers. We are proud that Dilum Alagiyawanna has chosen Canon equipment to shoot all the images of this wonderful book Refreshingly Sri Lanka,” said Wrixon Wang — Senior Manager from Canon Singapore.

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