Archive for September, 2013

SL becomes an expensive tourist destination-report

The sun-kissed Indonesian island of Bali has toppled Sri Lanka from the top spot as the ‘best value’ long-haul travel option in a new list of popular holiday destinations.

The latest Post Office Travel Money Long Haul Report – which gauges the countries that offer the most in return for tourists’ holiday cash – shows Sri Lanka slipping to fifth place behind South Africa, Vietnam and Thailand.

This decline is put down to a 45 per cent price rise in costs at Sri Lankan resorts.

Resort costs have fallen in half of long haul destinations – in most cases because of the improving performance of the pound.

The Post Office report found that prices in Bali for 2013 fell by one per cent to give the Indonesian island a clear lead over second placed South Africa, while resort prices in Sri Lanka had risen for the second year running.

It calculated the cost of ten tourist staples in the capital Colombo – including itsems such as suncream, insect repellant and a three-course meal for two with wine – to come to a total of £54.45.

Although the average price of a cup of coffee, at 26 pence, was the cheapest across the board, Sri Lanka displayed the biggest cost rise in any of the destinations surveyed, with prices for all ten commodities 24 per cent higher than in Bali (£43.91), the outright winner.

Vietnam and Thailand took third and fourth place.

Vietnam remains competitively-priced (£53.04 for the ten staples) and has proved a success story in 2013 as sales of its currency, the dong, have grown 106 per cent compared to this time last year.

Following a summer when long haul destinations took nine of the top ten Fastest Growing Currencies places (in the Post Office’s survey on which currencies are enjoying a boom in demand with travellers), it seems that getting some winter sun is not too far out of reach for UK travellers.

While sterling remains weak in Europe, it has strengthened against many long-haul currencies.

Theme park favourite Orlando emerged as the best value of five USA destinations.

This made it the only US entry into the Long Haul Report top ten. It proved to be a third cheaper than Miami, which in turn was more expensive than New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

Destinations Down Under were again most expensive in the survey.

The ten tourist items cost £121.35 in New Zealand (Auckland) and £124.69 in Australia (Darwin), although the Australian dollar’s fall against sterling means prices are 10 per cent lower than last year.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said, “After a summer when sterling bought less holiday cash for trips to Europe, winter sun tourists can look forward to seeing their pounds stretch further in many of the most popular long haul destinations.

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Bird watching season begins

Bird watching season begins

Bird watching season begins

The Migrant watch, a much awaited event among bird lovers, will be

launched this year on Sunday (29) with a watching session at Talangama Tank in Battaramulla starting at 7.00 a.m. Migrant watch is a concept promoted by Prof. Sarath Kotagama of the Department of Zoology, University of Colombo.

A lecture on ‘Waders and Other Migrant Birds’ will also be held on Saturday (28) at 9.30 a.m. at the Department of Zoology. Both these events are free and open to public. The Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) specially welcomes those who are new to bird watching to take part in these events.

September to end of April is the period for many birds to migrate to Sri Lanka to avoid the harsh winters in the north. Few of these migrants, such as Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Brown Flycatcher, Forest wagtail, Asian Paradise Flycatcher (sudu redi hora) and Indian Pitta (avichchiya) even visit home gardens.

“Hundreds of Greater Flamingos, Gargenies, Plovers as well as globally threatened Spoonbill Sandpiper are known to feed in our coastal wetlands. They provide a boost to the biological wealth and economy and therefore it is our responsibility to safeguard them until they leave our shores,” a spokesman for the FOGSL said.

Aiming to provide an opportunity for public to get closer to nature through birds, the FOGSL initiated Migrant watch in 2011 to promote observation and keep records on migrants.


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Sri Lanka Holiday, Sri Lankan MICE Conference to boost Tourism Industry

SriLankan Holidays and the MICE Department of SriLankan Airlines jointly organize a MICE conference to promote Sri Lanka as a sought-after travel destination for the leisure and MICE traveller.

“SriLankan Holidays and SriLankan MICE Conference 2013”, to be held on September 13, 2013 at Jetwing Blue, Negombo is expected to attract more than 150 participants including SriLankan Holidays Franchise Operators (SHFO), SLH Ground Operators (SHGO), MICE Operators and foreign media representatives from all SriLankan online points network wide.

Chairman, SriLankan Airlines, Nishantha Wickremasinghe said, “After the end of war, Sri Lanka has become one of the safest countries to explore and a popular family holiday getaway.

The growing number of tourist arrivals is a good indication of the appeal our wildlife, beaches and hospitality have on them. As the national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines is also actively involved in the expansion of Sri Lanka’s MICE industry at a time when the country is increasingly receiving global attention.

Thus Sri Lanka’s transformation from a typical holiday getaway to an important MICE destination sought after by the international event-planners can bring in dividends in time to come.”

The conference will educate the attendees on MICE services provided by the airline, various products and services of SriLankan Holidays, and the outstanding characteristics that make SriLankan the ideal airline for both business and leisure travellers. Srilankan Airlines, Head of Worldwide Sales, Lal Perera said, “Through the conference, we are hoping to enlighten the participants

on our products and services while educating them on the effective methods of promoting Sri Lanka as a MICE and holiday destination.” The day-long programme includes speeches by Chairman Jetwing, Hiran Cooray and General Manager, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Vipula Wanigasekera; presentations, workshops, and one-to-one meetings during which the local tour operators and delegates will have the opportunity to share knowledge and interact with each other.


Sri Lanka-Vietnam Joint Cultural Show

The Sri Lanka-Vietnam Joint Cultural Show by Sri Lankan and Vietnamese artistes to mark the 68th Vietnam Day in Sri Lanka was organised by the Ministry of Culture and the Arts and the Embassy of Vietnam in Sri Lanka and held at the Tower Hall Theatre in Colombo.

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Cinnamon Nature Trials and BBC promote wildlife tourism of Sri Lanka

  • Over 50,000,000 viewers of the Natural History Unit to witness the glory of the country’s wilderness and natural world

The BBC Natural History Unit (NHU), the department of the BBC which produces television, radio and online content with a natural history or wildlife theme is currently in Sri Lanka to film the country’s national parks and archaeological sites for one of its highly regarded nature documentaries, ‘Monsoon’. Best known for its productions such as ‘The Blue Planet’ and ‘Planet Earth’, each year the NHU produces around 100 hours of television and 50 hours of radio programs, making it the single largest wildlife documentary production house in the world.

In a bid to cover the historic archaeological connection to the country’s wildlife heritage, the NHU is currently covering sites such as the Kalawewa, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa along with the Minneriya and Wilpattu National Parks. Cinnamon ‘Nature Trails’, the dedicated Wildlife and Adventure Tourism division at John Keells Hotels Group is the official ground handling agent for the NHU tour, whilst the crew is being hosted at a range of Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts during their stay in Sri Lanka – including Cinnamon Lodge Habarana and Cinnamon Wild Yala.

Understanding that films and television programs have a significant, positive effect on tourism, the filming tour was organised by Cinnamon Nature Trails with the full approval of the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation with the prime objective of gaining a wider ‘branding’ for Sri Lanka and its natural world, which in turn will have a very strong influence on creating a desire to travel in the minds of its wide tourist audience.

With over 16 nature parks and wildlife reserves to boast of and only 24% of tourists to Sri Lanka visiting these sites annually, the effect that a documentary such as this, produced by an elite unit of the BBC such as the NHU, will only be persistent and long-lasting and will no doubt contribute immensely towards the ambitious vision of the Government to achieve the arrival of high-end tourists into the country. “Sri Lanka is just one country in the whole series on the monsoon. It is a privilege to be considered amongst the likes of Malaysia and Indonesia in this portrayal of the great ancient world and its links to the irrigational achievements of past kings that hosts the wilderness and natural world at present. Indeed a great opportunity for us,” stated Environment Foundation Limited Wildlife Biologist and Operations Director Vimukthi Weerathunga.
According to the BBC, the tour, in essence will bring an estimated 50,000,000 viewers along with them to see Sri Lankan wildlife’s challenges, and solutions in surviving the drought. The crew also intends on filming the Yala National Park once it reopens to visitors by the end of the month.

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