Quest stops by Sri Lanka on low-cost World Tour


By Madushka Balasuriya

Richard Quest, the host of CNN’s ‘Quest Means Business’ and ‘Business Traveller,’ is on a new adventure; he and his team are travelling around the world – to nine countries to be precise – in just eight days. It’s all been done before, I hear you cry. Wait for the catch. He’ll be travelling solely on budget airliners.

Their route sees them start in London on 12 March and travel to Brussels, Prague, Dubai, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and finally back to London on 20 March – in that order. That the journey start and end in London was one of four rules. They also had to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans once, and they had to so traveling in the same direction continuously. This meant that certain destinations were logistically off-limits.

“The number one question I get at the moment is, ‘Why haven’t you gone to Africa?’ People seem to tweet me this every hour! The places we’ve been to so far, it’s all down to what fitted the network,” said Quest, explaining that destinations such as Africa and South America were out of the questions due to a dearth of low-cost carriers and networks.

“We had a researcher working for nearly two weeks, just trying to get it so that it [the destinations] would all fit together,” he added.

Quest is also by no means a short man; for someone who is 6’2”, economy class leg room will be a major concern on most legacy carriers, let alone on the low-cost variety. So it was natural that to fully appreciate the true low-cost experience, the final rule had to be that no premium seating was to be taken where offered. Yes, that even meant front row seats with extra leg room was a no-fly zone!

“Last week I was in the gym and I pulled a muscle in my lower back. It has been agony all the way. I’m fine if I’m standing and I’m fine if I’m sitting, it’s going between the two that can be [makes sound mimicking pain]. So I’m doing a lot of stretching at the back of the plane,” Quest said, highlighting the difficulty of the task he has undertaken. “It’s not bad, but we haven’t done the big ones [long haul flights] yet,” he adds ominously.

Colombo was the fourth destination on the tour, and Quest made a pit-stop at the Cinnamon Grand’s Sequel Restaurant to explain to an eager audience why he was taking on this challenge.

“We are showing how the low-cost airlines are now so big, so powerful and, in many cases, the only way you’re going to get from A to B for a reasonable price. We’re seeing the low-cost airlines become more like the legacy carriers and we’re seeing the legacy carriers becoming more like the low-cost airlines, and that’s why we’re doing this,” he revealed.

Quest had never before visited Sri Lanka, despite it being on his list, and asked whether he would be making a journey back to the island nation any time in the near future, he said: “I am amazed at this place. It is the sort of place I would be looking forward to coming back for a holiday. There’s plenty of beautiful places in the world but there seems to be a friendliness and a warmth here that just seems to have clicked.

“I will be coming back, and I promise it will be within the next 12 months,” he added, before immediately mitigating his statement by offering a comical take on how making comments and promises such as that in today’s social environment can come back to bite you.

Whether or not Quest makes his way back in a year’s time or later, Sri Lanka’s Tourism Promotion Bureau hopes visits such as his will be the first of many by international media personalities.

“Sri Lanka Tourism will evaluate opportunities to promote the country with key international TV channel including CNN within our global promotional initiatives in the near future,” said Chairman Paddy Withana.

Quest and his crew will be documenting the entire journey on and on Quest’s twitter account (@RichardQuest, #FlywithQuest), with the entire journey airing on the 14 April edition of CNN Business Traveller.

Pix by Daminda Harsha Perera


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