Archive for March, 2015

Elephant Reach Hotel Yala in major refurbishment and expansion drive

The pool area

Elephant Reach Hotel Yala renowned for exclusive Safari excursions at Yala wildlife sanctuary is to add 20 more Eco-friendly accommodation chalets with an investment of Rs 40 million. This is in addition to the refurbishment to its chalets with a cost of over Rs 15 million. The company also plans in investing a further Rs 100 million in the opening of five more hotels within two years and set up a state of the art Chinese restaurant next to its newest property Beach Camp Yala.

Elephant Reach wild life resort situated just 12 km from the Yala wildlife sanctuary consists of 21 chalets and 14 standard rooms. “We are working on expanding the hotel to serve more guests by adding 20 more eco-friendly rooms. We will also be adding a gymnasium and spa to give guests a complete, relaxing experience,” said Eshan Mendis, Manager, Elephant Reach Hotel.

Mendis said the hotels now running at a profit recorded high occupation margins with over 70% in January and 90% in February. The hotel also banks on its excellent service to lure customers and has grown from strength to strength setting standards in world-class accommodation and service in the Yala region. He said recently the hotel advanced to the fourth position in tripadvisor ratings and that was ample evidence that Elephant Reach Hotel offers far superior service than other players in the region and plans to upgrade its grade as a four star property within a year’s time.

Lanka Hotel and Travels Holdings (LHT Holdings) owns two more properties Richmond Villa Kandy and Beach Camp Yala situated in Kirinda Nidangala, said Sales and Marketing Manager Dhiman Nonis. “Elephant Reach is undergoing a major facelift and following the refurbishment and value additions, Elephant Reach will be a 4 Star Class Hotel,” he said. Nonis said the management has also planned to increase the number of properties to eight within two years with Dambulla, Mirissa and Nuwara Eliya in mind.

The hotel also celebrated its 9th year anniversary on Sunday. The past couple of years saw Elephant Reach hotel reach peak with a steady increase in arrivals of guests from China and Europe and has introduced a variety of services at the hotel to ensure a lasting impression.

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Sri Lanka Tourism partners National Craft Council in global promotions strategy

Sri Lanka Tourism and the National Craft Council announced a new partnership and global promotional strategy.
The partnership will see traditional crafts being promoted through Sri Lankan stalls during international tourism and travel fairs including live demonstrations of Sri Lankan handicrafts. “With this tie-up, the best handicraft artisans will have the opportunity to show case their skill set to the world by way of being present at the 47 top global tourism and travel exhibitions that Sri Lanka Tourism will be attending in 2015,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala stated.
Largely made up of small and medium enterprises, the best of artisans in Sri Lanka’s handicraft industry are selected for more rigorous training of which approximately 15% are reported to source products to craft retail outlets such as the State-run store, Laksala. “This is a historic occasion given that almost all handicraft artisans are SMEs and micro industrial entrepreneurs and with this partnership all of them will have access to the global economy,” National Handicraft Council Chairman Buddi Keerthisena stated. He added that such access to international markets through the partnership would also help to further develop local industry.

Commenting on wider strategy, Athukorala cited Nation Brand Finance (UK) estimates of Sri Lanka’s brand value as a country at approximately $61 billion, up 30% Year-on-Year (YoY), and stated that he had targeted a brand value of $ 80 billion in 2015 by way of attracting better quality tourists, top-dollar investments and higher value on export merchandise. “With this partnership, in a typical Sri Lankan Pavilion apart from the travel and tourism trade participants, now we have a Ceylon Tea Boutique through a Rs. 1 billion working partnership between Sri Lanka Tourism and the Tea Board that was inked last month and now extended to showcase live handicraft artisan at work which gives an opportunity for a global consumer experience all facets of Sri Lanka as per the Nation Brand building model of Simon Anholt,” Athukorala stated.

He added that this new “three-pronged attack” would be tested during the upcoming Arabian Travel Mart (ATM) in Dubai in May and simultaneously at the Sri Lankan Pavilion at World expo 2015 in Milan while noting that feedback from this approach at the Moscow and Gothenburg fairs last week were very positive. “Now we must formalise the partnership and make it systemic so that it becomes promotional policy in the future,” Athukorala stated.

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Cinnamon Lakeside partially closed for repairs till Oct.

Ffive star hotel, Cinnamon Lakeside, overlooking the Beira Lake in downtown Colombo, will be partially closed from Monday, the hotel management Trans Asia Hotels said in a statement.
In a stock market disclosure Keells Consultants for Trans Asia Hotels said Cinnamon Lakeside will be partially closed from 30 March 2015 towrds undertaking urgent repairs.
The repairs are expected to be completed in October 2015.

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Sri Lanka Tourism embarks on focused brand building in Russia

Given that the Russian economy is struggling with economic embargoes that has resulted in currency depreciation by almost 100% and Russian arrivals to Sri Lanka plunging by 32%, Sri Lanka Tourism had invested in the market with strong brand building with a focused relationship with key travel agents and tour operators at the key Russian fair MITT that was staged in Moscow last week.
“Once the economy opens out, the strong relationships can respond to selected market selection where Sri Lanka can benefit,” said Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala.

The Sri Lanka delegation was led by Managing Director Milanka Gajanayaka who ensured the Sri Lanka booth was up and running when the suppliers at the MITT fair found it tough to meet the stringent standards that Sri Lanka Tourism sets for its global marketing promotions.

A total of 11 leading tour operators participated at MITT this year including Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts, Aitken Spence Travels, Deluxe Vacations Ltd., Delux Holidays Ltd., Pigion Island Resort, Long Beach Resort & Spa, Connaissance De Ceylon, Exotic Holiday International Ltd., Bernard Tours Ltd., Green Holiday Center Ltd. and Concord Exotic Voyages Lanka Ltd.
Sri Lankan representatives were able to meet with the top tour operators of Russia during the show such as PAKS Tours, Russian Express, TZ Tours, KOMPAS Tours, etc., creating a golden opportunity to revive business strategy during this challenging period of time.
The highlight of the conference was the Ceylon Tea Boutique that catered to the visitors with single origin Ceylon Tea which was staged in partnership with the Sri Lanka Tea Board and drew a large crowd for the Ceylon Tea experience.
The Sri Lanka Tourism stand stood elegant at the show featuring all aspects of destination promotions with live video screens attracting all visitors. The Sri Lanka Embassy staff in Russia and the Sri Lanka Tourism Brand Manager of the Russian market Viranga Bandara played a key role in achieving promotional goals of MITT.

Sri Lanka Tourism hopes to roll out a focused advertising and PR strategy for the Russian market including media promotions and setting up video walls with promotional videos in highly-populated areas such as the Red Square to further develop the avenues in promoting the destination to counter the present situation in the Russian market.

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Sri Lanka Tourism gets 4th place at ITB for best booth

The Sri Lankan booth attracted visitors with its famous Ceylon tea serviced to every visitor in addition SriLankan Airlines also added weight to the country brand image, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala stated in a media release.

Sri Lanka Tourism won fourth place among 83 countries for the best booth from 11,000 exhibition booths at the recently concluded German travel mart ITB, 2015 in Berlin. “One Island a thousand treasures” was the theme of the Sri Lanka Tourism booth.

The Sri Lankan booth attracted visitors with its famous Ceylon tea serviced to every visitor in addition SriLankan Airlines also added weight to the country brand image, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala stated in a media release.

The judging was led by Dean of Tourism, Prof. Dr. Florian Hummel and Martina Leicher the Director of Business consulting working in close collaboration with Messe Berlin, it was stated. The evaluation was broken down to two stages; the best 15 picked fro each georgraphical area and then scrutinized in the second pass by another team armed with a more elaborative in- depth criteria before the decision is made on the top ten, the release said.

Sri Lanka was classified into the most competitive geographical area of Asia/ Australia/ Oceania where entrenched competition exists given that most western tourists tour the world’s hot spots in Asia, the release said.

The release explained that Asia attracts the highest and best quality tourists as most markets are just opening up such as the strategic partnering country for ITB 2015, Mongolia, the Maldives, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar.

Sri Lankan Ambassador for Germany and Switzerland Karunatilleke Amunugama said the attendance of the Ambassador of Germany in Sri Lanka and two ministers from the Government of Germany demonstrates the strong working relationship that exists between the Sri Lanka and Germany. “Let us now build on this strong foundation,” he said.

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Whales, ultimate magic of Sri Lanka tourism

Project Blueprint, the result of a joint partnership between Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), a leading global marine conservation organisation with SriLankan Airlines, Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB), Jetwing Hotels and Cinnamon Hotels to protect whales and dolphins of Sri Lankan waters, identified whale watching to be the key for increasing tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka at a recent press briefing.

“All our efforts to put Sri Lanka’s wildlife tourism in the map during the last 10 years got a huge boost when the blue whale came into the equation,” said John Keels Hotels Head of Eco Tourism Chithral Jayathilake.

“I don’t see any reason why Sri Lanka should not promote whale watching,” said WDC representative Andre Sutton, while sharing his experience of encountering five killer whales in Kalpitiya recently.

“People from different parts of the world know about our beaches, our heritage practices and our wildlife but what is needed for them now is something a bit more contemporary. In that perspective I would say we focus on this uniqueness that Sri Lanka has,” said SLTB Chairman Rohantha Athukorala adding to the statement made by Jayathilake.

“Now we need to attract a new segment – the youngsters,” said Athukorala talking about positioning whale watching as a niche market in the minds of youngsters.

“Showing the magic we have in terms of Blue and Sperm whales to youngsters is a very big opportunity; it’s like showing candy to a kid!” added Jayathilake.

Little Adventures facilitator Ashan Senavirathne spoke about the importance of promoting the product as part of domestic tourism. “There’s a lot of potential as people are looking forward to experiencing new things, everybody is a tourist, even the locals.”

Moreover, while talking about meticulous planning and marketing of the product, Athukorala mentioned that he would talk with the private sector regarding identification of the right target market within the top seven markets to promote whale watching in areas such as Mirissa, Kalpitiya and Trinco.

“Once that is done I will develop a communication strategy together with the private sector to reach up to them properly, we will develop this product in to a brand,” he reiterated.

SLTB Chairman also spoke about the necessity of launching a strong digital marketing campaign to market the attraction. “The future of tourism is digital marketing,” he said.

“What the community sees is a livelihood, once they start looking after their whales, the whales are healthy and happy resulting in happy tourists, repeat visits and recommendations at Trip Advisor,” said WDC Lead Vanessa Williams-Grey speaking to Daily Mirror about establishing whale watching to be community-based, responsible and ethical.

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26 Wi-Fi zones from today

The Information Communication and Technology Agency said it would expand the services to 1000 public spaces across the island by the end of August

Lankan citizens will be able to enjoy free Wi-Fi internet access at selected 26 public locations across the island from today (30), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, elecommunications and IT said. The Information Communication and Technology Agency said it would expand the services to 1000 public spaces across the island by the end of August. A Foreign Affairs Ministry offcial said they had not established any restrictions on the free Wi-Fi service. Yet, he said there would be 100 MB usage limit. “At the beginning there were no barriers for the Wi-Fi users, but after analysing the service with the time, our technicians will take necessary technological methods to control the service,” he said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera, along with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and six other ministers will inaugurate the programme at the Colombo Fort Railway station today (30).

The inauguration will be simultaneously telecast on giant LED screens at the Jaffna, Polonnaruwa and Matara Railway Stations and bus stands.

The 26 public locations are: Fort Railway Station, Pettah Public and Private Bus Stands, the Temple of the Tooth Relic Kandy, Floating Market in Pettah, Colombo Law College, Colombo Public Library, Dehiwela Zoo, Colombo Racecourse, Colombo Police Headquarters, Galle Railway Station, Jaffna Railway Station, Fort Dutch Hospital, Galle Face Colombo, Battaramulla Foreign Employment Bureau, Colombo Museum, Karapitiya Hospital, Ratnapura Museum, Polonnaruwa Base Hospital, Matara Bus Stand, Polonnaruwa Railway Station, Matara Railway Station, Mirijjawila Botanical Garden, Jaffna Public Library, Kandy Railway Station and Peradeniya Railway Station.

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