Archive for August, 2015

Grand Gourmet Nirj’s restaurant opens

“Grand Gourmet at Nirj’s”, Sri Lanka’s first French fine dining restaurant, was opened by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prof Maithree Wickremesinghe.

“Whilst wishing Grande Gourmet and my childhood friend Niranjan every success, I hope this is a harbinger to Sri Lanka being a fine food destination”, said the Prime Minister.

“As the only dining club associated with the world’s leading chefs, we have the unique opportunity to mix with and observe the best of the best,” said Niranjan Deva Aditiya who is also a Member of the European Parliament.

“While our intention with Grand Gourmet at Nirj’s is simple, it is also boundless, in the sense that we want to achieve Michelin Star status and put Sri Lanka on the world gourmet map. The finest ingredients are only part of the step – we want to provide an internationally recognised and immersive fine dining experience”, he said.

“Our firm desire is that Grand Gourmet at Nirj’s is open to all who have the means to dine there and experience the very best, not just those from the top echelons of society or politics. We are relentlessly focused on truly welcoming and including the customer, and ensuring that they are given the very best holistic dining experience”.

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SL tourism to auction Ceylon Sapphire at TUR Fair


In the backdrop of Sri Lanka Tourism crossing the $1.6 billion dollars in revenue as at end July 2015, the Scandinavian market has catapulted by 31.9% clocking in 30,825 visitors making it one of the best recipients post the government change in January 8, said Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Dr. Rohantha Athukorala.

With the upward trend in Norway, Denmark and Sweden Sri Lanka Tourism has launched focused marketing activations mainly online via direct mail, film based marketing and digital tweaks whilst an aggressive below the line campaign will be launched later this month, said Chairman Athukorala. Sri Lanka has chalked out a strong plan to take high ground at this year’s TUR Travel and Trade Fair 2015 to be staged in Stockholm, Sweden on the positioning, “ One Island a Thousand Treasures,” he said.

Whilst we will highlight the “ 8 wonderful experiences in 8 wonderful days – that includes beach, wild life, culture, heritage, Ayurveda, festivals and people we will use a multi pronged marketing strategy. This will include where visitors can experience Ceylon Tea in the dedicated ‘Ceylon Tea Boutique’ and the auctioning of a beautiful Ceylon sapphire in a unique private- public partnership. This will cut the Sri Lanka Pavilion away from from other competitor destination as a unique island destination with a thousand treasures, said Athukorala. It was only last week that Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau announced the “ Ceylon Tea’ theme at World a Travel Mart that will be staged in London in November. The country is registering a 16.8% visitor growth as at end July ‘ With the new advertising campaign that will hit the market place later during the year Sri Lanka Tourism will once again get back the lost glory, added Athukorala.

Denmark is the lead source market recording a visitor arrivals of 10,334 at a growth of 34.5% followed by Sweden with 9,506 travellers at +26.4% whilst Norway and Finland also has registered doubled digit growth which explains the new opportunity for Sri lanka, said SLTPB in the communique. The 2015 edition of the Sri Lanka’s thrust of the Scandinavian market will include a road show where top sixty Scandinavian destination marketing companies( DMC’s) will follow a country presentation which will profile the country highlighting the new products that will explain changing tourism landscape in the last four years, he said.

Ceylon Blue Sapphire worn by Celine Dion winner of 12 world music awards, five Grammy Awards and seven American music awards.

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Sri Lanka beats Guinness Record for largest tea party in Kandy

In a unique partnership, Sri Lanka Tourism, SriLankan Airlines and Sri Lanka Tea Board with implementing partner APOT (Asia Pacific Onboard Tour agencies) Sri Lanka crossed the ‘Largest Tea Party’ in the Guinness Book of Records in Kandy over the weekend.

The private sector partner was global value added tea brand Basilur whilst the official biscuit was Maliban.  The 32,682nd and 32,683rd cups of tea were consumed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, signifying Sri Lanka crossing the Guinness record.

The Sri Lankan feat set was 35,000 beating the 32,681 set at the Nehru Stadium in the Indore, India, said Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Chairman Dr. Rohantha Athukorala together with SriLankan Airlines Director and pro-tem CEO Rakitha Jayawardena.

APOT founder Keethi Hapugasdeniya said once the Guinness Committee ratifies the feat, Sri Lanka Tourism plans to take the event globally, demonstrating continuity of the project which is an interesting idea given that daily there are over 30 million people who consume a cup of Ceylon Tea.


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Yala Park closed for a month due to drought

Yala National Park will be closed for one month starting from September 7 as a result of the extremely low waterfall in the area, Wildlife Conservation Department spokesperson Hasini Sarathchandra said.

“The bookings of bungalows would not be allowed for local and foreign visitors during this time. The park will re-open again on October 6, provided rains being experienced during this time. However, it should be noted that last year too the park reopening following the dry season had to be extended as the drought had continued to effect the availability of water for the animals to survive,” Sarathchandra said.

“During the period of closure, maintenance work on bungalows and the park would be carried out. As the Yala Sanctuary was always overflowing with visitors, closing the park for a short period during the dry season is the usual practice because of their breeding period to allow the wild animals to rest,” she said.

The Yala National Park was the most visited and the second largest National Park in Sri Lanka. It encompasses an area of about 1,260 square kilometres, while also attracting visitors in their thousands, which had contributed the highest revenue to the Wildlife Department, she said.

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Austrian Airlines inaugurates winter flights to Sri Lanka

Austrian Airlines, the flagship carrier of Austria, is expanding its long-haul service in the tourism segment by adding Sri Lanka as a new destination to its network.

Starting from 27 October 2015, Austrian Airlines will offer flights once a week to Colombo, namely on Tuesdays, the airline said in a release. Austrian Airlines will operate a Boeing 767 for its flight service to Colombo, a distance of about 7,450 km. The flight from Vienna to Colombo will take about nine hours and 10 minutes. “In addition to the Maldives and Mauritius, Sri Lanka is yet another destination in the Indian Ocean,” explained Chief Commercial Officer of Austrian Airlines, Andreas Otto. “In this way we are increasingly focusing on long-haul tourist destinations which are particularly in demand during the winter months.”
Sri Lanka is mainly of interests to tourists who want to enjoy the local culture, relax on the beaches or get to know the country and its people within the context of an active or adventure holiday, the airline said.

Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority Director General H. M.C. Nimalsiri said direct service from Vienna to Colombo was a result of bilateral talks between the Civil Aviation Authorities of Austria and Sri Lanka held at Bali Island on Indonesia in November 2014. According to the official, the service will greatly help boost Sri Lanka’s tourism industry since most Austrian tourists prefer to spend their holidays around beaches in coastal areas. The airline will offer the service during the winter season and the round trip airfares start at EUR 679, including taxes and charges.

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Aitken Spence Travels attracts nature and adventure tours from Spain


Intensive marketing of Sri Lanka as an ideal destination for nature and adventures tours by Aitken Spence Travels has attracted a leading specialized tour operator from Spain to send two tourist groups to Sri Lanka this month. The groups’ tours in Sri Lanka were handled by Aitken Spence Travels, Sri Lanka’s leading destination management company.

The Spanish tour operator who specializes in nature and adventure, offers such tours to most parts of the world from Spain. Its Product Manager said “Sri Lanka and its people have been a beautiful surprise. We are confident of moving more clients to the country in the coming months”.

With the commitment towards offering sustainable tourism, Aitken Spence Travels is endowed the Carbon Neutral status by the Sri Lanka Carbon Fund and maintains ISO 9001:2008 and 14001:2004 certifications.

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Sri Lanka Tourism, Tea Board and SriLankan Airlines quest for Guinness Record

  • 3000 kg of black tea to  be plucked 
  • 35,000 cups of tea to be served at Esala Perahera 
  • Guinness World Record attempt to be featured at global travel fairs
  • New global advertising campaign in the making

Sri Lanka will attempt to claim a Guinness World Record by plucking 3,000 kg of tea at the Pedro Estate, with the help of 200 foreigners, and serving 35,000 cups of tea at the Esala Perahera. Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala said this feat would put the country on the world map. “This must be supported by the launch of a global branding and promotional campaign on tourism after a lapse of six years which is now at a ‘shortlist’ stage where the top seven global advertising agencies are in the running,” he emphasised.

01-3“Sri Lanka Tourism will cross the $ 3-billion net receipts in 2015 and the new advertising campaign will help Sri Lankan positioning on the proposition of the DNA – diversity, compactness and authenticity which will help the overall objective of attracting the $ 250-dollar tourists rather than just going after arrivals,” said Athukorala.
The private sector partners of the Guinness record bid are Basilur, the global tea brand and household business brand, Maliban, which will be the new ethos of the Government on the Private-Public-People partnership to building brand Sri Lanka,” he said.  “Research indicates that when a country’s brand value pegs up the quality of investments increases while the quality of the tourists that it can attract also increases while the export market country mix also tends to change which is what Sri Lanka needs to do.”

At the ‘World’s Largest Tea Party’ Sri Lanka Tourism will invite foreign guests from key countries such as India, China, UK, Germany, Italy, Russia, Middle East, Australian and United States as well as nations from the Scandinavian region.  “To be part of the event which will be linked to social media that takes the story to the key markets so that we can get on the news of the world. Earlier this month Sri Lanka Tourism launched a unique global competition where the best 20 online videos submitted will get a 365-day holiday whilst a weekly direct mail themed ‘message in a bottle’ has been touching the key global media, designation marketing companies ( DMC’s) around the world. In the key markets, we do focus below the activations by way of road shows branded ‘One island, thousand treasures’ while also being in person with the private sector in the key travel and trade fairs globally under the theme ‘8 wonderful experiences in 8 wonderful days’,” said Athukorala.  “We will extend the Guinness Record to the world by way of the ‘Ceylon Tea Boutique’ concept which is in every exhibition that we take part globally which costs us over a Rs. 1 billion annually,” he added.

Athukorala stated that Sri Lanka had garnered over a million tourists in just seven months at a growth of 16.8% as at the end of July 2015 and July spiked to 31.2% growth in visitors, which was interesting given that China became the top source market.
“However, the dominance of the informal sector accounting for 49% of the arrivals which is approximately 7.3 million room nights must be addressed as we are launching a 200 million digital marketing campaign with the best online organisations that must help the formal sector that support SLTPB with the funding required for aggressive marketing,” commented Chairman Athukorala.

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