Archive for February, 2016

Luxurious haven Anantaya Passikudah to be launched soon

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Passikudah located in the eastern coast of Sri Lanka is famed for its golden sand and the sparkling blue waters of the Indian Ocean and attracts a large number of tourists every year. Anantaya Resort and Spa – Passikudah, the newest addition to the Anantaya chain by LAUGFS Leisure, is soon to be launched in April this year, and is earmarked to be one of the most sought after luxury resorts in the region.

Passikudah lies between Kalkudah and the Indian Ocean, thirty five kilometers from Batticaloa on the Eastern Coast of Sri Lanka. Boasting shallow waters, white sandy beaches, coral reefs and palm trees, Passikudah is also popular among tourists as an ideal destination for water sports including snorkeling, sailing and swimming.

Built on a 15 acre beach-front stretch, the resort will offer 63 uniquely designed luxury rooms, suites and villas for guests. Its tastefully decorated plush interior has been exclusively created by experienced international designers.

Anantaya – Passikudah is designed and built on a theme of intelligent luxury with an eco-friendly design, and built-in energy efficient mechanisms. With lavish open spaces designed to maximise the use of natural lighting, the resort is built with authentic natural material sourced from within the region, lending subtly and simplicity in colour and texture.

The resort will also feature an all-day diner and a unique specialty restaurant offering delectable fresh seafood from the local area for a sumptuous feast to satisfy taste buds. Providing a haven of luxury for leisure travellers, it will also be an ideal destination for the business traveller with its exquisite Convention venue with a range of modern conference facilities.

“Anantaya – Passikudah will provide the infinite luxury, comfort, beauty and tranquillity that Anantaya is renowned for. It is designed by a world renowned international architect firm who has been commissioned by many luxury resorts around the world. The resort will be headed by a team of Sri Lankan professionals with years of international experience in hospitality management, assuring our guests with the highest standards of quality and guest comfort,” commented LAUGFS Leisure CEO Roshan R. Perera.

“We started our chain of resorts with Anantaya – Chilaw, which has received a phenomenal coming an award-winning luxury resort within just one year of operations. With the success of Anantaya Chilaw, Anantaya Passikudah has become a natural addition to the chain with our third property to be set up in Waskaduwa on the south coast of Sri Lanka. We also have plans to venture into Maldives, extending our presence in the region,” he further elaborated.

LAUGFS Leisure is a subsidiary of LAUGFS Gas PLC, and owns and manages the Anantaya Resort & Spa chain of luxury properties. LAUGFS is a diversified Sri Lankan conglomerate that has expanded across 20 industries, both local and overseas, establishing a strong presence as a leader and pioneer in the power and energy, retail, industrial, services, leisure, logistics and real estate sectors. With over 4,000 employees and an annual turnover exceeding Rs.28 billion, LAUGFS continues to expand and empower millions as a trusted Sri Lankan brand.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/527592/Luxurious-haven-Anantaya-Passikudah-to-be-launched-soon#sthash.h21mp4bx.dpuf

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Sri Lanka Tourism takes Young Leaders of Economic Forum on a journey of culture and heritage

A cultural event with authentic Sri Lankan food was arranged by Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) to showcase the rich Sri Lankan culture and heritage to Young Global Leaders. The event was organised to coincide with WEF (World Economic Forum) Young Global Leaders ‘South Asia Bridge Initiative Strategy Meeting held in Sri Lanka from 16-19 February.

The Forum of Young Global Leaders set up as an independent, not-for-profit foundation under the Swiss government, is an integral part of the World Economic Forum. The Forum of Young Global Leaders is a unique, multi-stakeholder community of more than 900 exceptional young leaders from all walks of life who share a commitment to shaping the global future. This is the first time Sri Lanka has been elected within the South Asian countries to host the Young Global Leaders (YGLs) event of The World Economic Forum.

Forty Young Global Leaders from around the globe were welcomed by Sri Lanka Tourism with a traditional dancing act to Waters Edge Hotel in Kotte on 18 February. The event was filled with many cultural activities including demonstration of wood carving, beeralu lace making and various traditional dancing acts such as Kandyan, low country, raban and folk dancing.

Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Paddy Withana addressing the gathering highlighted key tourist attractions and the unique characteristics of the compact Island. The informative and graphical presentation delivered by the Chairman introduced and elaborated the tourism product of Sri Lanka and enticed the gathering to talk about repeat visits.

The ambience and the waterfront Boardwalk at Waters Edge Hotel was filled with Sri Lankan tastes, sounds and experiences that provided a memorable experience for the delegates.

 

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/527206/Sri-Lanka-Tourism-takes-Young-Leaders-of-Economic-Forum-on-a-journey-of-culture-and-heritage#sthash.pEXSmHso.dpuf

 Is Sri Lanka really experiencing a ‘tourism boom’?

 

The Daily FT today starts a new series featuring Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) members on current issues related to the tourism industry. Following are excerpts of an interview with Jetwing Travels Ltd. Managing Director Shiromal Cooray

Q: What has changed in Sri Lanka tourism post 2009?

A: It would be easier to say what hasn’t changed post 2009. May 2009 was what the tourism industry was hoping for almost three decades. The visitors began looking at Sri Lanka in a new light; suddenly Sri Lanka became the hot spot to travel. Journalists came in droves and wrote about the hidden treasures of this beautiful island and we became the ‘in’ place to visit. Tour operators began to take a new look and began spending money to promote the destination.

Airlines increased their frequencies and new airlines commenced operating to Sri Lanka. Entrepreneurs who were reluctant to invest were now fighting to build hotels, Sri Lankans who went overseas for employment began to return. The Chinese began visiting the country.

 

“We have improved greatly but we have a long way to go. With more promotional activities and international brands coming in, the numbers will definitely increase. We need to improve our infrastructure and offer more activities if we are to increase tourism earnings”

Well, the list can go on but more importantly, it gave those players who were die-hard hoteliers, destination management companies, transport suppliers and guide lecturers a smile on their faces and a spring in their step. They became confident to invest, to modify and refresh their offers to suit the 21st century. They were willing to up their game to compete on an even playing field with the new entrants and the foreign investors. The bottom lines of the companies began to turn positive and tourism almost overnight became the golden goose.

Since 2009, the infrastructure has improved, the two highways being a case in point. The much needed domestic air transportation services have commenced operations, many locals are confidently opening their homes to take in paying guests, more young adults are returning to tourism as a possible career option, tourist arrivals and the revenue is on the rise.

“We can never compare ourselves to Thailand and Malaysia. They have a different kind of tourism; they are bigger countries and have mature products. Ours is a little island but a breathtakingly beautiful one. We need to manage the numbers whilst maximising earnings as we should not allow the character of Sri Lanka to be destroyed”

Q: Did Sri Lanka as a destination capitalise fully the opportunity?

A: Well, perhaps not. However, through the visiting journalists’ programs, etc. and by the sheer fact that the hostilities had ended Sri Lanka got a lot of positive media. This naturally increased the numbers post 2009 as we know. Unfortunately, the Western countries started talking about human rights violations, etc. which negatively impacted the volumes from these countries. This was amply compensated by the Chinese market as many promotional efforts were targeting this market.

DFT-17-02Tourists take a selfie at Sri Lanka’s Independence square in Colombo.Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka jumped 24.3 percent year-on-year in January, government data showed, with the number of foreign visitors rising for the 81st straight month since a nearly three-decade-long civil war ended in 2009. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Also, if larger numbers came in soon after we may not have had the infra-structure to handle the sudden influx and the country would have earned a bad image. In hindsight, this progression was perhaps better. For instance, we saw how the country was not ready for the Chinese tourist. Our product needed to be modified, we did not have sufficient language speaking guides, there were many Chinese nationals who came in and started tour operation, guiding, selling gems and jewellery illegally. These things happen when we do not have systems and processes in place and can be detrimental.

At present, our relations with the Western governments have improved and we can see a very healthy growth from these markets. It is still not late as we seem to be one of the few countries that is ‘safe and secure’ for a visitor. If we have our marketing and advertising in place ASAP, tourism can contribute significantly to Sri Lanka’s economy.

Q: Has the growth in earnings gone to the village level?

A: It most certainly has. As accommodation providers, suppliers of services to hotels and travel companies, local guides, providers of local experiences, etc. Hotels have also come up in various remote locations enabling young adults from these areas to share in the bounty.

“At present, our relations with the Western governments have improved and we can see a very healthy growth from these markets. It is still not late as we seem to be one of the few countries that is ‘safe and secure’ for a visitor. If we have our marketing and advertising in place ASAP, tourism can contribute significantly to Sri Lanka’s economy”

Q: Has Sri Lanka tourism made any significant impact to local GDP, if so by how much?

A: Yes, it has. In addition to the tangible impact it has made a huge indirect impact to the economy as many sectors are benefitting by it. Construction, transport providers, vehicle importers, raw material suppliers, farmers, excursion providers, etc.

Q: Are we running a ‘marathon’ or a ‘sprint’ or ‘walking race’ when it comes to tourist infrastructure development + promotional activities?

A: At the moment it seems a walking race and perhaps the tortoise might win the race. However, we do need to get these in place and the promotional activities are an absolute must! We must also educate our fellow Sri Lankans that tourists are here not to be fleeced and that they too have to be respected as much as we must inform the tourists that they need to acknowledge and respect Sri Lankans and our customs. If we do not do this we face the risk of being another India or Thailand or Brazil.

“We need to market the destination! We now have a diverse product. It is no longer a ‘cheap’ destination. We have cheap, average and high end products on offer. We also have so many attractions, cultural sites, natural landscapes that need to be promoted. However, we need to be ready to receive these large numbers too and have mechanisms to control in a positive way”

Q: How do you rate Sri Lanka arrivals and tourism earnings vis-à-vis competitors like Thailand, Maldives and Malaysia?

A: We have improved greatly but we have a long way to go. With more promotional activities and international brands coming in, the numbers will definitely increase. We need to improve our infrastructure and offer more activities if we are to increase tourism earnings.

Q: Any reason for the difference in numbers and how do you bridge the gap in unfavourable instances?

A: We need to market the destination! We now have a diverse product. It is no longer a ‘cheap’ destination. We have cheap, average and high end products on offer. We also have so many attractions, cultural sites, natural landscapes that need to be promoted. However, we need to be ready to receive these large numbers too and have mechanisms to control in a positive way.

An example is the Yala National Park. It is a fact that 20% or so of the foreigners who visit it generates 80% of its revenue. However, as the park management has not changed over time, unless immediate action is taken to remedy it we stand to have visitors wanting to avoid a visit. This can happen to other attractions too, unless we take a good look at each of them.

“We must also educate our fellow Sri Lankans that tourists are here not to be fleeced and that they too have to be respected as much as we must inform the tourists that they need to acknowledge and respect Sri Lankans and our customs. If we do not do this we face the risk of being another India or Thailand or Brazil”

Q: What should be the role played by Sri Lanka Tourism and Government to take us to the next level?

A: They must let the private sector drive it. The various bodies must assist development and not be a deterrent. All other departments like the Wildlife, Cultural Ministry, Immigration Dept., Ports Authority and other related departments must work closely with the Tourism sector as both can benefit if they work together. Tourism must be allowed to have the flexibility to do promotions as and when required rather than having to follow time consuming and cumbersome procedures. Of course accountability is important, but within stipulated parameters the flexibility to act should be there.

The law enforcement agencies should be given the authority to take action whenever there are violations.

Q: Will Sri Lanka tourism earnings be greater than competing countries like Thailand and Malaysia? If so by when at the current pace?

A: We can never compare ourselves to Thailand and Malaysia. They have a different kind of tourism; they are bigger countries and have mature products. Ours is a little island but a breathtakingly beautiful one. We need to manage the numbers whilst maximising earnings as we should not allow the character of Sri Lanka to be destroyed.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/527175/Is-Sri-Lanka-really-experiencing-a-%E2%80%98tourism-boom-?#sthash.6qLxf0dr.dpuf

Taking Sri Lanka’s cultural and religious parades to the world

The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, in an effort to market the traditional Sri Lankan cultural parades and festivals to the world as a part of the events tourism initiatives, this year made arrangements for the winner of Ms. Tourism Sri Lanka International 2016, Vera Branda Dukstra from Netherlands to experience the Colombo Navam Perahara conducted by the Gangaramaya Temple which took place on 21 and 22 February.

Many tourists from all over the world visit Sri Lanka to witness  cultural and religious parades each month due to its unique traditional dances, costumes, instruments and music providing an important glimpse in to Sri Lanka’s rich culture and heritage. The Navam Perahera is a celebration of sights, sounds, colours and music with numerous historical, cultural and traditional aspects featured during this elegant religious cultural parade.

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Dijkstra will be a brand ambassador for Sri Lanka Tourism for a period of one year assisting with many tourism promotional campaigns around the world, especially trade and consumer promotions and advertising campaigns geared towards the Netherlands and Western European countries to drive upscale tourism to Sri Lanka.

The Netherlands has become a growing source market for Sri Lanka Tourism having seen a cumulative growth of 35.3% for the year 2015 in tourist arrivals. The Dutch traveller is considered a high spender and expected to spend over Euro 15 billion overseas while traveling.

Sri Lanka Tourism participated at the largest travel fair in the Dutch market, Vakantiebeurs 2016 held in Utrecht from 12-17 January with tourism industry members to further promote the island as a desirable destination to this source market targeting over 42,000 arrivals for this year.

“This pageant and the win by Miss Netherlands comes at an ideal time when a number of activities such as road show events and advertising is planned in the region where Dijkstra will be able to share first-hand experience of Sri Lanka and further promote the endless possibilities available to a traveller,” said Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Managing Director Ruvini Bandaranayake.

Dijkstra, Ms. Tourism Sri Lanka International 2016, fascinated by the Navam Perahara said: “It is a life changing experience to be in a country like this and seeing the elephants and the amazing traditional dancers doing such a wonderful job, made me fall in love with Sri Lanka even more than I thought I could ever love a country. I am so happy to be a part of Sri Lanka’s tourism initiatives and I think everyone should experience such rich and vibrant cultural event at least once in their lifetime!”

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/527233/Taking-Sri-Lanka-s-cultural-and-religious-parades-to-the-world#sthash.5IprRNEG.dpuf

The Mirage to build second hotel

The Mirage Hotel (Pvt) Ltd, Marine Drive Wellawatta is planning to open a second hotel, Miraj Comfort in 2018.

Mirage Hotel (Pvt) Ltd, Managing Director, Prabath Fonseka told Daily News Business that they have already purchased the land and would start building this year. “We have some foreign partners too have come to invest over Rs. 600 million for the project.”

He said that they will invest around Rs. 700 million for this 80 room project in the adjoin land. The company invested Rs. 600 million, to build their first hotel, The Mirage.

He said that they are currently not keen to get a rating since then they fall to the minimum room rate category and the rates might then be too highfor some guests. (SS)

Source : http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=2016/02/23/business/mirage-build-second-hotel

 

Sancharaka Udawa 2016 in May

Imran Hassan Director CDC Events addressing the event.

Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) will organize the 6th Sancharaka Udawa 2016, on May 27 to 29 2016 at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre (BMICH) from 10am to 8pm each day.

The exhibition will showcase many small, medium and large enterprises and entrepreneurs of the tourism industry on a single platform, creating an opportunity to come together and make it known to those in the tourism sector.

The popularity of the event bears ample testimony to its success. This will be an ideal opportunity for those interested in the tourism industry, even students to get a first-hand understanding of what is available in the tourism industry.

There will be many stalls, seminars and meetings to facilitate tourism opportunities for the future. Moreover the highlight of this year is the celebration of “50 Years” for Sri Lanka Tourism

Tourism is a highly focused industry for economic growth in Sri Lanka. SLAITO together with Sri Lanka Tourism will play a major role in this event which is an important feature in the local tourism calendar. SLAITO has appointed CDC Events & Travels as the Professional Exhibition Organizer for Sancharaka Udawa 2016.

Imran Hassan Director CDC Events & Travels said that they are looking at opening this event out to foreign participants from next year. Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Paddy Vithana said that despite them not getting the 100% support from the government they are moving ahed with destination marketing and other promotions.

It is expected to be the biggest and best exposure to date, and a large number of local and expat visitors are expected at the event. “Due to the high demand of this event, this year we have made Sancharaka Udawa a three day event that will place over 200 stalls and it will be held in

collaboration with the 50 years celebration of Sri Lanka Tourism,” said Dirk Grigson, Chairman of Sancharaka Udawa 2016.

He said that even companies and hotels that are not registered with Sri Lanka Tourism can showcase their property or product at the event. (SS)

Source : http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=2016/02/23/business/sancharaka-udawa-2016-may

Perahera pageantry

The 37th Navam Maha Perahera of the Hunupitiya Gangaramaya Temple was held on 21 and 22 February. Several thousand dancers representing the up-country, low-country and Sabaragamuwa dancing traditions took part in the procession. These scenes were captured at last night’s perahera – Pix Bhanuka Kirinde, Kithsiri de Mel and Sudath Silva

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Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/526857/Perahera-pageantry#sthash.duqPkrw4.dpuf