Archive for September, 2014

New fusion style Japanese restaurant in Colombo city

Japanese cuisine is not as popular as its rival Chinese food in Sri Lanka. But since lately the demand for Japanese food has increased in Colombo and few Japanese restaurants opened to meet the demand. The latest in town is Poppy Hana. ‘Poppy Hana’ Japanese Fusion Restaurant, the first Japanese restaurant with Sushi Belt, is now opened at ‘Liberty Arcade’, Duplication Road in Kollupitiya.

Owned and operated by Faizal and Kanako Sherifdeen, a husband and wife duo, ‘Poppy Hana’ is the very first authentic Japanese and fusion cuisine restaurant with traditional Sushi belt, which is a popular feature in the orient. The original ‘Poppy Hana’ Japanese restaurant was established in August 2006 in London by Faizal and Kanako and is successfully operating to date. Faizal Deen, who was born in Kandy, has over 20 years of experience as a Chef de Saucier in Japanese culinary arts and is especially skilled in the Art of sharpening Japanese Knives, and created a variety of fusion style Japanese Sauces inspired by European and Asian cuisines.

His Japanese wife, Kanako, has vast experience and passion in hospitality and is also an experienced baker specialized in Japanese and European style bread, cake and pastry. After the success of their London branch, they moved to Sri Lanka and decided to open a branch of Poppy Hana Japanese Restaurant with a ‘Kaiten’ Conveyer Sushi Belt in one of the most exclusive locations in Colombo.

‘When we decided to open our restaurant in Colombo, I thought it should be in a total different concept. Being a Sri Lankan, I know Sri Lankans are not much familiar with Japanese dishes. So it should be fusion style cuisine. That is exactly what we are doing now. Mixing cultures to create a palatable dish is our goal’ Deen explained the real meaning of ‘Poppy Hana’.

Conveyor Belt Sushi – also known as Kaiten Zushi, Sushi Train or Kulu Kulu “-Sushi. ‘Kaiten’ means ‘to rotate’ or ‘go round in a circle’. As the name suggests, a range of sushi travels on a conveyor belt and the customers takes what they want from the belt, the bill will be simply calculated by counting the number and type of plates of the consumed dishes, also the drinks and dishes consumed from the ‘Off the Belt Menu’ will be added if any.

‘It is the first Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurant in Sri Lanka. As this type of restaurant is popular in the world, it has not yet been introduced in Sri Lanka; it is funky and gives customers a different dining experience in style’ said Kanako. The restaurant also has a private dining room ideal for business meetings and meals. The room also has a projector which can be used for business meetings. The ‘Teppanyaki’ table located in the private terrace will make any event a unique experience with the exclusive chef entertaining the guests with his cooking skills.

‘Poppy Hana’ is a reasonably priced ‘Fusion Style’ Japanese Restaurant and Bar, serving Sushi, Sashimi, Noodles, Rice Dishes and Japanese Deserts.
‘We widely use the local ingredients and modify dishes to suit the market in Sri Lanka. We are open from 12 noon to 11.00pm daily’ said Mr. Deen
‘Our cuisine is not all about ‘raw’ fish, it’s a new concept. Sri Lankans will love the unique dishes which will combine the Japanese and Sri Lankan tastes’. He added.

‘Poppy Hana’ is located at the 1st Floor, Liberty Arcade at 282 R. A. De Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3. Call 011 2301588, 011 2301688 or log onto for more details. Pix by Neil Siriweera

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LOLC Leisure rebranded as Browns Hotels

Browns Investments PLC (BI) announced the re-branding of LOLC Leisure to Browns Hotels and Resorts.

In March this year, Browns Investments acquired sole shareholder status of LOLC Leisure.Hotels under the Group include: Eden Resort and Spa, Dickwella Resort and Spa and Green Paradise, Dambulla. The company also announced the construction of a 71-room four star hotel in Passikudah, which is scheduled to be opened later this year.

The company’s current portfolio holds 308 keys, with plans to increase it to around one thousand within the next few years. “Browns Investments has expanded its footprint in the leisure sector and made a number of significant acquisitions. This increased interest will lead us to soon be one of the largest hotel operators in Sri Lanka.

This is extremely timely, considering the country’s increased focus on tourism.” said Rimoe Saldin, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Browns Investments PLC.

A 363-roomed, 25 acre property located along the golden mile of Beruwala,currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2016,will be included in the portfolio of hotels; as will be a 172-roomed five-star property, already under construction in Kosgoda which will be completed during the first half of 2015. The company also owns properties in Nilwella and Trincomalee, and is looking at options for a new city hotel.

Browns Investments is a subsidiary of Brown and Company PLC, with its ultimate parent company being LOLC.

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Getting communities involved in Sri Lanka’s nature tourism

Today is World Tourism Day 2014 on ‘Tourism and Community Development’

By Kanchana Wickramasinghe – IPS

“A lot of tourists are coming to see Yala. Only a few villagers are having small boutiques closer to the entrance. There are a few who are working as guides in the safari jeeps. Other than that we do not get any income through Yala tourism,” remarked a villager who lives in the periphery of Yala National Park, when he was asked about the benefits to his community of the increasing tourism in the area.
Helping local communities gain more from tourism remains an elusive goal in many tourism areas across Sri Lanka, not just in Yala. It is increasingly being recognised that local communities should be a stronger part of a country’s tourism industry. Not only does it directly result in community empowerment, but it also ensures the sustainability of tourism businesses especially in natural environments and rural contexts.

Involvement of communities in nature tourism
Nature tourism can take various forms; ecotourism, agro tourism, etc. Meaningful participation of local communities in nature tourism is vital because they have been the guardians of the natural resources in the country, including forests, over the years. The local communities possess the knowledge and understanding about the natural environment and socio-cultural context, much better than an outsider – which is an important asset for nature tourism.

However, in the case of Sri Lanka, meaningful involvement of communities in nature tourism activities has not been satisfactory so far, as highlighted in previous IPS publications. The same mistake should not be repeated in the emerging areas of nature tourism.
A villager in Ranpathwala, Kurunegala, who was optimistic of tourism, said: “Our village is blessed with natural beauty. We would like to gain some income through tourism. Our involvement can make sure that there will be no impacts on the forest or villagers. But the whole issue is that it is difficult to find English-speaking young people to guide the tourists.”
An entirely new business for some rural villages
Tourism is an entirely new business for some rural villages in Sri Lanka. These communities do not have any experience in carrying out, or being a part of, tourism in their respective areas. Though they can be used as an important asset in the businesses, the lack of skills and knowledge holds back their effective involvement.
Communities tend to be pessimistic of the role of tourism in their community context. The common belief that tourism can cause negative social implications in the rural villages is a barrier that hinders the active involvement of communities in tourism.

Villagers in Illukkumbura, a village bordering the Knuckles forest range, assert that the behaviour of some of the tourists was a threat to their traditional socio-cultural set-up. These aspects should receive enough attention in tourism promotion, when targeting and marketing policies at higher levels. Efforts to sensitise tourists to local culture would also help address this, and should focus not only on foreign tourists, but domestic tourists as well.

Lack of community involvement in planning stages
The absence or lack of community involvement in the planning stages of tourism is also a major gap that needs attention. Most of the problems which can arise in the operational stages can be minimised by getting community inputs in the initial stages of the businesses. This also helps create a better sense of ownership.

Sri Lanka can learn lessons from success stories in regard to meaningful community involvement in small scale tourism in different parts of the world. Ecotourism in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica and in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala, India, are two examples where lessons can be drawn for Sri Lanka. In these two cases, establishing meaningful and strong links with the communities in decision making and implementation and also better sharing of benefits, were the reasons for their success.

Tourism-related community development in nature tourism should not be limited to getting a few villagers to guide the tourists, as in the case of Yala. Of course, the pathways for community involvement may be different, depending on the location, socio-economic conditions of the households, target customers, etc., so a one-size-fits-all approach would not bring the desired outcomes. But more capacity building of communities and better community involvement at an early stage must become priorities in this process.

New forms of tourism which are emerging in Sri Lanka can create more opportunities for communities to get involved and gain greater benefits.
Innovative and careful planning will be a must in order to make sure that community benefits are meaningful and long-lasting.

(Kanchana Wickremasinghe is a Research Officer at IPS. This article is available online at ‘Talking Economics’

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Nilaveli Beach Hotel celebrates four decades of excellence

  • Perfecting their own recipe of hospitality

Nilaveli Beach Hotel, a well-established brand in the tourism sector of Sri Lanka, proudly celebrated 40 years of excellence in imparting the best in hospitality on 21 September 2014. A series of events, which included religious ceremonies designating all religions, and a fishing competition organised in collaboration with the Ceylon Sea Anglers Club, was organised by the hotel leading up to the 40th anniversary celebrations.

Indicating the strong bond that the Nilaveli Beach Hotel has had with its employees, Bernard Vancuylenberg, the first employee of the Hotel, travelled from Australia to also participate in the celebrations. Employees who had completed more than 25 years of service at the hotel were presented with Long Service Awards and a Gold sovereign each in appreciation of their dedicated service at a Special Anniversary Lunch with the directors, management, staff and former staff of the hotel.

Setting forth on its remarkable journey in 1974, the Nilaveli Beach Hotel, founded by Deshabandu George Ondaatjie was the first tourist board approved resort in the East Coast. The opening ceremony was graced by the then Minister of Tourism and Shipping, P.B.G. Kalugalle. Thus, was the beginning of not just another tourist hotel, but a home away from home to those who sought a retreat from their mundane busy lives. And as such, in recognition of his immense service to the local hospitality industry, Deshabandu George Ondaatjie was awarded the Presidential Award of Excellence for Tourism under the Pioneering category.

Its unique location, situated just 2 km away from the Pigeon Island National Marine Park, is ideal for any beach lover who seeks to explore Sri Lanka’s marine life.

Since its inception, promoting peace and ethnic harmony and adhering to eco-friendly and sustainable business practices have been the ethos of the hotel. As such, The Multi Faith shrine room, a seven acre organic farm and ongoing support to nature resources are highlights and initiatives of the hotel’s commitment towards promoting an atmosphere for sustainable growth.

Long-standing employees of the hotel, who have stood by this iconic structure as it proudly journeyed through the tides of time, are the pulse of the hotel. As such, each and every employee dedicates their time and effort to ensure that they exceed the expectations of the guests by providing them an incomparable service. Even in challenging times, the staff of Nilaveli Beach Hotel made sure that the hotel continued with its operations.

Renovated after the tsunami, Nilaveli Beach Hotel today continues its journey with a history to be proud of. The hotel offers 23 Standard and 22 Studio Deluxe rooms and 2 Suites with modern facilities. Final approvals for the reconstruction of the 24 rooms that were lost to the tsunami, while not disturbing the original footprint of the hotel, are also being processed to impart a truly luxurious experience to the guests.
Maybe it is the stunning setting, the shallow waters of its ocean frontage, the delectable seafood and the warmth of the staff, majority of whom have been with the hotel since its inception, that imparts a sense of magical allure at the Nilaveli Beach Hotel. It’s a continuing affair that will surely stand the test of time. For more information visit: or


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Sri Lanka’s first cruise line tobegin sailing soon

The first luxury cruise line operating from SriLanka is to be launched shortly, mainly focusing on the Sri Lankan diaspora and the burgeoning Indian middle income class travelers, according to the investing company.

To this end a local entity has already been set up by the name Royal Asian Cruises (RAC) under the Board of Investment (BoI), and the company will invest as much as US $ 33 million (Rs.4.3 billion) as foreign direct investment through March 2015.

The company which is going to be headquartered in the World Trade Centre will increase its investment to US $ 200 million through next two years and further up to US $ 720 million within a total of five years to increase the fleet ofcruise vessels to five.

According to founder Chairman Sivakumar Sinnarajah, (a transportation sector professional), the first ship which will start sailing by end 2015 will create at least 400 direct employment opportunities both on-shore and on-board for the Lankans.

The company is currently i n negotiations with a European party to purchase the first cruise vessel which is now under charter in Scotland. It was originally owned by Malaysia based cruise line, Star Cruises.

Sweden-based luxury yachts and cruise ships interior designing company, Tillberg Design led by Michal Jackiewicz acts as the project manager for the refurbishing and re-designing of the 50,000 tones, 400 cabin, 5-star plus vessel to be purchased.

However, according to Sinnarajah the company will “potentially” outsource the refurbishing to the local ship builder and repairers will be carried out by Colombo Dockyard PLC at a later stage.

Cruise industry is among the fast growing in the leisure market and the passenger numbers estimated to have grown by 7.2 percent per year since 1990.

“It has been called a ‘recession-proof business’. In other words, when the economy gets week the cruise industry only dips a little.

One of the reasons for this is, when times are good people reward themselves by (traveling in cruises) and when times are bad they might as well go on a cruise to be in a better destination,” said RAC Chief Marketing Officer, Bill Chambers.

According t o Chambers who has over 35 years experience in the industry, the cost of travelling in cruise is far less than travelling by one’s own.

According t o statistics, cruise lines carried 21 million passengers worldwide and the industry estimates passenger numbers will exceed 24 million by 2018 with almost 60 percent of them being North Americans followed by 27 percent Europeans.

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Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Resort Project


Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Resort Project is one of the biggest tourist projects undertaken by the Government to promote tourism in the country. Luxury villas are to be built in the fourteen Virgin Islands in Kalpitiya region.

More than 100 hectares of land in Kalpitiya have been vested in the Kalpitiya integrated Tourism Resort project  consists of Ayurveda Spas, recreational centers, a helipad etc. The helipad facilitates airlifting tourists from other parts of the country. Another important aspect is that the natives of Bathalangunduwa and fishermen who live in the adjacent areas will not be displaced.

The natives to be integrated will be the stakeholders of the hotel project. Meanwhile, the Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Project is expected to rake in four billion US dollars from the potential investors.

Another tourist attraction is the sighting of Whales and Dolphins in the seas around Kalpitiya and the indigenous mangroves found in abundance. Twenty-three varieties of indigenous mangroves that protect the beach are also the food for the fish found aplenty in the sea.

The area is also a resting place for seventy-five varieties of migratory birds on their way to Anawilundawa bird sanctuary in Wilpattu. There are 500 fishing families who live in Bathalangunduwa. The oldest Dutch church in the country is found in the Nochimuni.

Project Director, Navaratne, said the Kalpitiya will be marketed as a tourist destination well known for its beach, recreational activities, diving, water sports, and for wildlife tourism as well. The biggest coral reef stretching up to 30 kilometres is also found in Kalpitiya.

Although the areas bordering the Wilpattu wildlife sanctuary were not accessible previously due to terrorist activities, the Wilpattu wild life sanctuary has now been re-opened to the public. The Tourism Development Authority has also decided to draft a bio-diversity plan to protect the environment.

The KITRP has selected two investors for Wellai and Ibnathiev islands to set up villas there.

A Swiss, a Singaporean and an Indian investor will invest around US Dollars 1.75 billion to set up five star villas in the two islands. They have agreed to provide a financial package of Rs. 100 million to uplift the living standards of the natives in the Bathalangunduwa and Nochimuni areas. A consolidated fund will be set up shortly to disburse these funds.

In view of the scarcity of water and power a desalination plant and a solar power plant will be set up in the villa complex, the project director said.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) will evaluate tenders called for the KalpitiyaIntegrated Tourism Resort Project (KITRP) shortly.

The project expected to be completed in three years will generate direct employment to 15,000-20,000 and indirect employment to 50,000 persons.

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Hotels and restaurants register increase in services sector

The services sector is remaining dominant in the Lankan economy by contributing 58 percent to the country’s economic output in the second quarter of 2014 (April, May,June), estimates of national accounts for the 2nd quarter of 2014, released by the Department of Census and Statistics of the Ministry of Finance and Planning reveal. In the services sector, ‘Hotels and Restaurants’ report the highest rate of increase by 20.5 percent, followed by ‘Export Trade’ 11.1 percent and ‘Domestic Trade’ 10.1 percent.

The report adds: The total economic output in Sri Lanka, measured by the Gross Domestic Product for the second quarter 2014 (April, May, June) was Rs. 840,653 Million recording a positive growth rate of 7.8 percent compared to the second quarter of 2013 which was estimated as Rs. 779,974 Million.

The three main pillars of the economy, Agriculture, Industries and Services sectors has shared the GDP at constant price (2002) by 10.6 percent, 31.5 percent and 58 percent respectively in the second quarter of 2014.

The main sub sectors “Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry” and “Fishery” has achieved rates of growth of 5.9 percent and 10.5 percent respectively in 2014 second quarter, compared to 2013 second quarter. ‘Tea’ and ‘Coconut production’ showed a striking increase of 7.1 percent and 9.4 percent respectively over the corresponding time period, and sub sector ‘vegetables’ which shares the 3.3 percent of GDP, has increased by 8.9 percent during this period. Inland fishery has shown an outstanding increase of 73 percent in this quarter compared to the second quarter of 2013.

Industry sector all together shows a 12.2 percent increase within this period. Under the industry sector, ‘Gem Mining’, ‘Textile, Wearing Apparel and Leather products’ ‘Chemical, petroleum, coke, rubber and plastics” and ‘Construction’ sub 20.5 percent and this is followed by ‘Export Trade’ 11.1 percent and ‘Domestic Trade’ 10.1 percent.

Meanwhile the growth rates of sub sectors of ‘Rubber’, ‘Paddy’, ‘Minor Export Crops’ and ‘Import trade’ has decreased by 3.7 percent, 5.7 percent, 16.5 percent, and 3.3 percent respectively during the period of review.

GDP implicit price deflator which measures the price change in the economy with respect to the base year (2002=100), increased to 269.2 in the second quarter of 2014 from 255.5 in the second quarter of 2013 recording an inflation rate of 5.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014.

In the second quarter of 2014, Colombo Consumer Price index (CCPI) (2006/2007=100) is reported as 179.8. Compared to that of 173.5 in the second quarter in year 2013, it recorded 3.6 percent inflation rate in 2014 second quarter.

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