Archive for July, 2015

A tasty feast for the senses: Thai Cuisine Boulevard opens on Queen’s Road


For over 30 years Tasty Caterers has set the standard for delectable, innovative and reliable dining in Sri Lanka. This month, the industry heavyweight will reopen the doors to an old favourite on Queen’s Road under a new guise; say hello to Thai Cuisine Boulevard, expressly designed for an authentic Thai dining experience in the heart of Colombo.
Thai Cuisine Boulevard takes over from The Boulevard, which served fusion cuisine to discerning foodies in the city. The revamped Boulevard serves as the perfect venue for the dining experience that Thai Cuisine Boulevard will offer – sophisticated, innovative and undeniably authentic.
Thai Chef ‘Mama’ popularly known in Colombo’s culinary inner circles and amongst aficionados of Thai cuisine in the city, fronts the restaurant as Head Chef. Utilising specialty ingredients sourced directly from Thailand, Chef ‘Mama’ and her team have devised an elegant menu that includes classics such as Phad Thai, green and red curry and Tom Yum interspersed with dishes such as Thai-style satay, yellow crab curry and king coconut soup.
The restaurant’s interiors, with décor and artefacts sourced from Thailand, were designed by Architect Philip Weeraratne of PW Architects and reflect a contemporary and quietly stylish design ethic. Thai Cuisine Boulevard offers indoor and outdoor seating for up to 100 guests at a time, ideal for large gatherings and events. Guests may enjoy the contemporary Thai ambience indoors or step outside to dine al fresco under the stars, attended to by experienced and thoughtful staff. The restaurant also offers two private dining areas for those wishing for a more intimate dining experience and a waiting lounge that will serve refreshments as diners await their order or tables.
A separate unit based at the restaurant will offer take-away between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., with ‘Tasty’ specialties such as hoppers, kottu and Mongolian available from 4 p.m. Regular Boulevard patrons won’t be disappointed, for the in-house restaurant menu will offer a choice selection from the old fusion menu.
“We’re very excited to open Thai Cuisine Boulevard,” observed Tasty Caterers Founder Kanthi Jayamaha. “Thai cuisine is so popular in Sri Lanka and we’re lucky to have one of Colombo’s most coveted chefs heading our team. I’m also pleased that the restaurant retains something of the old Boulevard charm but with a strong contemporary oriental design.”
Already a popular restaurant choice in Colombo, is it recommended to make a prior reservation by contacting Thai Cuisine Boulevard on +9411 2 055 425.
Over the years, Tasty Caterers has grown to be an instantly recognisable and trusted caterer in Sri Lanka. Reputed for its outdoor catering services encompassing a variety of cuisines such as International, Fusion, BBQ, Mongolian, Oriental, and Sri Lankan, the team is equipped to cater for weddings, cocktail parties, children’s parties, and even small gatherings.
With some of Colombo’s favourite restaurants – such as the Café on the 5th, Crossroads, La Rambla and the trusty Tasty outlet on Fife Road under its belt, Tasty is perfectly poised to venture into experimenting with cuisines beloved by many a Sri Lankan.

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Heritance Ahungalla and Heritance Kandalama excel at Culinary Awards

Sri Lanka’s premier beach resort Heritance Ahungalla, emerged as the Most Outstanding Hotel Team in Sri Lanka for the third consecutive time after competing against 2500 participants from both international and domestic star-class city and resort hotels at the 16th Culinary Art Competition which concluded recently.

Heritance Hotels dominated the competition with Heritance Kandalama being adjudged the Best Culinary Team and Most Outstanding Regional Team at the competition.

Organized by the Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka, the culinary competition is part of the industry’s largest food and trade exhibition. Thirty judges from the World Association of Chefs Societies (WAS) officiated at the event. WAS consists of over 10 million chef members from over 91 countries.

Maintaining its reputation for offering the best cuisine in the country, Aitken Spence Hotels won 113 medals i ncluding 28 Gold medals which included 5 Excellence Gold medals and the prestigious award for the Most Culinary Team in Sri Lanka.

There were 24 categories for the medals and the Aitken Spence Hotels medal tally displayed the sheer dominance the resort chain’s chefs had over its competitors in the field. Chef Lalith Gunasekera, Consultant Chef/General Manager, Aitken Spence Hotels and Heritance Hotels who led the team along with Chef R J Hassim, Corporate Chef, Aitken Spence Hotels and Heritance Hotels and Chef Kasun Premachandra, Executive Chef, Heritance Ahungalla whose continuous training and motivation guided the participants, were jubilant along with the teams from Aitken Spence Hotels who collectively won 13 special awards out of a total of 29 special awards.

The special awards included the following: Best Pastry Chef – Chef Jagath Wjesundara, Heritance Ahungalla, Best Bartender Mixologist & Best Beer CocktailMr. Praveen Sampath Fernando, Heritance Ahungalla, Most Outstanding Apprentice – Chef M R D Fernando, Heritance Kandalama, Most Outstanding Artistic Show Piece – Chef Anil Gunawardane, Heritance Kandalama, Best Plated Appetizer – Chef Manoj Peiris, Heritance Ahungalla, Best Dessert Apprentice – Chef Kaveendra Heshan Balathanthri, Heritance Ahungalla, Best 5 Course Dinner – Chef H H K D Dayananda, Heritance Ahungalla, Best Mocktail – Lasitha Lakmini, Heritance Ahungalla, Best High Tea – Mandakini & Dharmasena, Heritance Kandalama, Best Cu l i n a r y Te a m and Most Outstanding Regional Team – Heritance Kandalama, Most Outstanding Hotel – Heritance Ahungalla.

“We constantly strive t o be the best and are firm believers of ensuring that our future generation is provided with the knowledge required to take on the baton when required”, said Gemunu Goonewardene, Director/ Consultant, Aitken Spence Hotels.

“Receiving recognition as the Best Culinary Team is yet another endorsement of our continuous yearn to achieve greater standards. The loyalty, dedication, commitment and teamwork has made this achievement possible and I would like to congratulate the teams on their achievement.” said Chethiya Perera, Joint Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels.

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Govt. signs agreement with Google

The whole of Sri Lanka will be converted into a Wi-Fi zone by March next year providing internet access to those living in all parts of the country through an agreement signed between Global IT giant Google and the Sri Lankan Government at Temple Trees yesterday. The technology has become available through a simple beginning where the State Minister for Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene had a conversation with Chamath Palihapitiya a former Facebook Senior Executive and founder of the investment firm, The Social+Capital Partnership. During the conversation the latter had talked of the latest technology that had been introduced by Google. Later Mr. Palihapitiya together with Mr. Wijewardene, and several other deputy ministers and state ministers including Dr. Harsha De Silva, Eran Wickramaratne and Ajith P Perera had met President Maithripala Sirisena to brief him on the new technology. With the President’s instant approval, the proposal was on the fast track to becoming a reality. It did become a reality yesterday with the signing of an agreement between the Government and The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) Google. Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samarawera who made the keynote address pointed out that from time immemorial Sri Lanka had been connected to the world. Located at the centre of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka’s strategic position straddles the main East-West trade route. However, the same could not be said of modern Sri Lanka and pointed out that there was a single criterion for securing a simple landline connection. Patience. After filling reams of paperwork and running from office to office, one would have to wait for months and years before a telephone line materialized,” he recalled.

Google Vice President Mike Cassidy and Information and Communication Technology Agency CEO Muhuthan Canagay are seen signing the agreement to introduce Raven Aerocstar balloon technology through which the entire country will be made a Wi-Fi zone. Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Deputy Minister Harsha De Silva and State Ministers Eran Wickramaratne and Ruwan Wijewardene were present at the signing. PIC BY PRADEEP DILRUKSHANA

Sinhala and Tamil journalists can now use Google translated to read each other’s articles in the next few years, simultaneous voice translation between Sinhala and Tamil via smartphones will be the norm

But he said connectivity is not only about engaging with the world. “It can also connect Sri Lankans to each other and to their government. Sinhala and Tamil journalists can now use Google translated to read each other’s articles in the next few years, simultaneous voice translation between Sinhala and Tamil via smartphones will be the norm. Also, to combat corruption and make government services more accessible to citizens, we plan on placing as many government facilities as possible online,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said

State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said this technology would help boost the country’s disproportionate economic growth. Deputy Minister Harsha De Silva who explained the technology said the balloons would be like a bunch of cell towers floating in the air. State Minister Eran Wickramartne said it was essential that the new technology be available to all at an affordable price.

Google Vice President Mike Cassidy said his company’s focus was to connect more people via internet. He said four billion people are still without internet. ICTA CEO Muhuthan Canagay said the new technology would help inter-connect 3500 government institutions which would ultimately create a cross-government platform and would make them paperless. He said focus would be made on introducing privacy laws.

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Sri Lanka Tourism welcomes 1st Sri Lankan Global Rotary President


In the backdrop of tourism visitor arrivals growing by 14.6% as at half year with overall earnings crossing $ 1.3 billion dollars and Colombo City ranked as the highest growth city by Master Card Traveller, Sri Lanka Tourism welcomes one of the top ambassadors for Sri Lanka, Global President of Rotary International K. Ravindran. Ravi takes helm in one of the most powerful service organisations of the world which incidentally has permanent observer status at the United Nations at a decisive time for brand Sri Lanka, when the brand value will exceed the GDP of the country crossing an estimated $ 80 billion, said Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Chairman Dr. Rohantha Athukorala, who is also the Commissioner General for Sri Lanka at World Expo 2015.

When a nation’s brand value increases, it has higher potential to attract better quality tourists, stronger export markets and higher value investments as per the latest research insights, Athukorala noted. “We are honoured to welcome the first Sri Lanka Global Rotary President. In each of the countries he visits, at every meeting, the Sri Lankan National Anthem will be sung and National Flag will be raised, which is one of the best top-of-the-mind brand recalls that can be instilled given that the last research done on Sri Lanka shows global awareness at 4%,” said Athukorala.

“We need build the brand equity of Sri Lanka tourism on this platform, culminating in the South Korean finale, which is the annual conference of Rotary where Rotarian Ravi will hand over the reins,” he said.  Sri Lanka is targeting 100,000 visitors from South Korea in the next year, given the strong thrust in play, which will also include attracting investments from the super power ASEAN economy that boasts 14 million outbound visitors last year.

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Sri Lanka woos Indian tourists with exotic locations

Business Standard: Indian tourists accounted for around 20% of total foreign tourist inflows into Sri Lanka last year. Located strategically to India’s south, the Indian Ocean nation is betting big on Indian visitors and hopes to double the arrivals in the next two to three years. Indians travelling to the country stood at 274,000 in 2014 from a total of around 1.5 million tourists arrivals from across the world during the year, said the Sri Lankan Tourism Promotion Board.

“We have fixed a target to achieve 2.5 million foreign tourist arrivals in next two years. Of this, India would be the largest contributor. Wedding tourism, luxury travel, business and meetings, beach sports and adventure tourism are witnessing good interest from the Indian travelers. Till May this year, tourist arrivals from India numbered 130,000,” said Indrajith De Silva, Director of the Sri Lankan Tourism Promotion Board. With the second half being the driving period for tourist arrivals, it was expecting around 400,000 Indian tourists this year, he added.

Among the destinations on top of Indians are locations such as Colombo, Matala, Galle, Hambantota, Kandy, Trincomalee, Anuradhapura, Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) and Mannar. According to Silva, increased tourist interest in wedding celebrations and adventure segment was helping them augment infrastructure along the beach side venues and develop the existing ones in the central provinces surrounding the country’s capital city Colombo.

He said the country was increasingly engaging with travel agencies in south India to promote its tourism destinations, and was in talks with private airlines in India to increase the frequency of flights from the major metros. “Unlike the countries in Southeast Asia, in Sri Lanka, it is possible to travel from south-north (covering 750 km distance) within a single day. Moreover, the country is totally peaceful now,” Silva said. At the ongoing three-day Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) 2015 here, tour operators said Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines remained the top destinations to visit for Indians in the last year. However, they said, Maldives and Sri Lanka were seeing good enquiries this year.

During the visit of the Sri Lankan President to India this year, both countries had agreed to share knowledge and work towards developing Buddhist circuits in the respective nations. The annual fair is being held in eight locations in the country this year. Over 150 stalls from eight countries and 18 Indian states and Union territories are taking part in the edition here.

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Sri Lanka Tourism targeting 75,000 travellers from Australia

Sri Lanka Tourism focusing on the top 10 source markets for Sri Lanka embarked on the key market- Australia by staging a road show in Melbourne and then at the Sydney Travel and Tourism Fair. “We are targeting 75,000 visitors,” said Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Dr. Rohantha Athukorala.  As at first half of the year Australia registered 27,134 visitors to Sri Lanka with a growth of 8.7% year on year.



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MICE waves across Hyderabad

Realising the importance of the Indian Corporate Meetings and Incentives, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) revived joint promotions with Srilankan Airlines with the approval of Tourism Minister Navin Dissanayake. The first such country promotion of MICE for this year took place in Hyderabad on 23 July at Taj Banjara with multiple activities, namely a press conference, industry one-to-one meetings and evening interactive session.

Over 100 Indian MICE buyers based in Hyderabad attended the event with both print and electronic media covering the event and the message of Sri Lanka on MICE potential, with stories carried by the newscasts from the same day.  Reactivating the agreement with SriLankan Airlines, SLCB took the full advantage of the strength of national airline’s Hyderabad office to use their network and organise the event, which was attended by heavyweights in the MICE industry, SLCB Chairman Udaya Rupasinghe, CEO Vipula Wanigasekera, SriLankan Holidays Manager Gayan Peiris and MICE Division Executive Thivanka Danapala.

Twelve MICE industry members had the opportunity of meeting the Hyderabad based buyers specially the ones who had not hitherto marketed Sri Lanka among their clients. They continued their dialogue during the interactive session in the evening.
SLCB presented to the media as well as the industry why Sri Lanka should be their next choice for MICE with the new locations and products for MICE activities while SriLankan Airlines explained their plans for India. “‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is the game in India and we need to do these promotions regularly to maintain and develop our market share in India,” said Wanigasekera.
“We lost some percentage of corporate meetings and incentives from India for some time but this  was veiled by the increasing number of visitors from India  either as tourists, business people or transiting passengers with a couple of days shopping in Sri Lanka. Corporate meetings and incentives are a separate segment with high spending and what we did was to revive this market and then we will move on to other cities with the help of SriLankan Airlines,” he added. “Today, even tier 2 cities such as Chandigarh, Jaipur, Mysore, Pune, Lucknow and Asansol are also important MICE generating markets.”

Sources said Indian MICE segment was enticed for Sri Lanka in 2008/2009 with a consistent effort by SLCB and SriLankan Airlines and over 200 Indian corporates had their events in Sri Lanka afterwards. The momentum gradually lost with lack of focused promotions specially targeted to MICE thereafter. MICE experts believe that SLCB should be given more autonomy to do their specialty which seems to be forthcoming with their recent undertaking including this promotion at a time quality tourists are desirable over the numbers.

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