Archive for August, 2016

Promoting tourism

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Stamps are a very effective communications tool to promote tourism. With the rich cultural and religious background and the number of places to visit in Sri Lanka, stamps provide a convenient mode to create awareness.

Seeing an attractive stamp on the cover of a letter makes anyone take a close look at it. One may argue that in this era of technology, letter-writing is nowhere near what it was a few years back. True – yet the practice of sending greeting cards, picture postcards, small packages and the like still continues.

It was heartening to read that July 2016 marked a milestone in Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals. It was reported that Sri Lanka hit an all-time high with 209,351 arrivals – a growth of nearly 20% in a month from the figure one year ago.

Tourism has figured as the theme for stamps on and off. The 50th anniversary of Sri Lanka Tourism was the most recent event when a stamp to promote tourism was released on 27 May. The Rs. 15 stamp depicted the special commemorative logo of the 50th anniversary. The colourful logo carries a series of symbols portraying the country’s heritage. The theme was continued in the First Day Cover with a series of pictures.

The Philatelic Bureau and Sri Lanka Tourism used the ‘Refreshingly Sri Lanka – Wonder of Asia’ theme to promote tourism with the release of ten stamps on 27 September 2011 to coincide with World Tourism Day. They were intended to promote Sri Lanka’s heritage, pristine glory, wildlife, nature, leisure and scenic beauty.

“There’s an exotic isle in Asia, where the traveller is guided by sheer instinct. Wake up to the call of indigenous birds. Drink deep from a babbling brook. Tack in the moist air of a rainforest. Spend an afternoon in the presence of snoozing leopards and bathing elephants. Watch an amorous peacock flaunt its plumage against the flaming sunset. Turn your gaze towards the ocean to witness pods of frolicking dolphins at play. Dive deep to discover multi-hued underwater gardens and silent shipwrecks. And as bight falls, end one adventure. Start another.” This is a quote from the Stamp Bulletin released with the stamps.

The UN-sponsored Tourism Day has been commemorated since 1980 s to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.

The timing of World Tourism Day is particularly appropriate in that it comes at the end of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere, when tourism is on the minds of millions of people worldwide.

Using the slogan ‘A Land like No Other’ used by the Ceylon Tourist Board in the 2000s a stamp was released in August 2002 featuring the ‘Sapu Mudra’ logo used at the time. It was an interpretation of the welcome gesture seen in the Sigiri graffiti – a visual expression of ‘Ayubowan’ expressing a sincere wish for a long and healthy life. The stamp depicts a female delicately holding a flower between the tips of her slender fingers as the expression of welcome.

On ‘Visit Sri Lanka’ theme, the Philatelic Bureau issued three stamps in September 2010 featuring the ‘Fantastic Beaches of Sri Lanka’. Three popular beaches in the eastern coast – Passikudah, Trincomalee and Arugam Bay – were selected for the stamps which were released along with mini-cards with panoramic views of each site with a small map on the side indicating the exact location of each.

Trincomalee, famed as a natural harbour with a beautiful view from Swami Rock, has a sea beach extending to Nilaveli and Uppuveli. Passikudah north of Batticaloa is favoured by surfers and water-skiers. Arugam Bay situated south of Batticaloa is noted for prawns and for surfing.

These beaches are very popular among the local tourists too and with the end of the north-east war, large numbers visit them. Lodging facilities are aplenty and these beaches are providing a huge boost to the tourist industry.

Stamps promoting tourism are high-value ones intended to be used mainly for overseas mail.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/564068/Promoting-tourism#sthash.BD9Vfnqj.dpuf

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UN Secretary General to visit Sri Lanka

Untitled-1At the invitation of the Government, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by his wife Ban Soon-taek, will visit Sri Lanka from 31 August to 2 September 2016.

The Secretary-General is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka in the evening of 31 August from Myanmar, and leave Sri Lanka late night on 2 September for China to participate in the G20 Summit.

In Colombo, on 31 August, the Secretary-General will meet Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. He will call on President Maithripala Sirisena on 1 September.

The Secretary-General will travel to Galle on 1 September, where he will participate in an event involving youth under the theme ‘Reconciliation and Coexistence: Role of Youth’.

On 2 September, the Secretary-General will travel to Jaffna, where he will meet the Governor of the Northern Province Reginald Cooray, Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan and members of the TNA, and visit a resettlement site.

During the visit, the Secretary-General will also meet with several Cabinet Ministers including the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera; the Speaker of the Parliament Karu Jayasuriya and Political Party Leaders; and civil society representatives.

At the invitation of the Chairperson and Board of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), the Secretary-General will speak at a public event in Colombo on 2 September on ‘Sustaining Peace – Achieving Sustainable Development Goals’, focusing in particular on Goal 16, namely, the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.

At the end of his visit on 2 September, the Secretary-General will address the media at a press briefing organised by the United Nations Office in Colombo.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/564273/UN-Secretary-General-to-visit-Sri-Lanka-next-week#sthash.BxgNPVx6.dpuf

Development Disruption

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National carrier, SriLankan Airlines yesterday announced to its customers the changes in flight schedules due to the scheduled maintenance work on the runway of the country’s main international airport at Katunayake.

The changes to its schedule will be made over a three-month period commencing from 06th January 2017 to 06th April 2017, due to the closure of Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport for eight hours a day from 0830 hours to 1630 hours each day for maintenance work on the runway.

The following flights have been cancelled. However, SriLankan will continue to serve each of these destinations through its flights at other times of the day:

  • UL308 Colombo-Singapore and UL 309 Singapore-Colombo
  • UL127 Colombo-Chennai and UL122 Chennai-Colombo
  • UL133 Colombo-Trichy and UL132 Trichy-Colombo
  • UL115 Colombo-Male and UL102 Male-Colombo
  • UL167 Colombo-Cochin and UL166 Cochin-Colombo
  • UL173 Colombo-Bangalore and UL174 Bangalore-Colombo

The following flights have been shifted to alternate times of the day:

  • UL868 Colombo-Beijing.
  • nUL866 Colombo-Shanghai.
  • UL402 Colombo-Bangkok and UL403 Bangkok-Colombo
  • UL318 Colombo-Kuala Lumpur and UL319 Kuala Lumpur-Colombo
  • UL306 Colombo-Singapore and UL307 Singapore-Colombo
  • UL161 Colombo-Trivandrum and UL162 Trivandrum -Colombo
  • UL195 Colombo-New Delhi and UL196 New Delhi-Colombo
  • UL183 Colombo-Karachi and UL184 Karachi-Colombo
  • UL503 Colombo-London and UL504 London-Colombo (From 05th January UL 504 will operate as London-Malé -Colombo)
  • UL281 Colombo-Jeddah and UL282 Jeddah-Colombo

Passengers who have already booked tickets on any of the above flights should contact their travel agent or the nearest SriLankan Airlines ticket office for details on revised times and/or alternative routings.

In a statement SriLankan Airlines said it regrets any inconvenience to its passengers caused due to these arrangements that have been made under unavoidable circumstances. “The closure of BIA affects flights of all airlines that operate to BIA during the scheduled time of maintenance work. The airline is not the operator of the airport and has no control over the scheduled maintenance works,” the national carrier added.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/564281/Development-Disruption-#sthash.5zkIonea.dpuf

New beachfront hotel and club ‘KK Beach’ opening in December

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ITCM: Set to be the most stylish new place to relax and unwind on the Sri Lankan coast, KK Beach opens in December as a contemporary new beachfront boutique hotel and beach club near Habaraduwa, just 12 km from Galle on the south coast.

aaOwned by the internationally renowned interior designer, George Cooper, one of Sri Lanka’s original hoteliers and tastemakers, the latest addition to the KK portfolio will complement the jungle experience at Kahanda Kanda, one of Sri Lanka’s most beautifully designed hotels. The KK brand continues to evolve with the opening of a second fashion and lifestyle boutique – KK By George, in the stunning surrounds of Galle Fort.

Kahanda Kanda is one of Sri Lanka’s most beautifully designed boutique hotels set amidst palm fringed jungle and tea plantations on the North East shore of Lake Koggola near Galle. Offering guests the perfect holiday combination of jungle and beach, the new KK Beach and Kahanda Kanda will work in conjunction with each other and a free shuttle service will run between both.

Kahanda Kanda opened in 2006 and is built as a series of pavilions joined by paths through gardens and lily ponds. It is made up of 10 individually designed suites, all with private terrace areas that are full of oriental and Sri Lankan furniture, boasting incredible panoramic views over the jungle and Koggala Lake. A stunning shared infinity pool and raised dining deck is the perfect place to unwind with wonderful views out over the jungle. In November 2015, the stunning new Hibiscus suite opened with its own private infinity plunge pool and Mediterranean inspired interiors.

aaaaGuests can relax in the spa with its open treatments rooms or enjoy the fitness studio, yoga and complimentary walks among the tea bushes. Nearby, guests can take a 20 minute tuk-tuk to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle Fort, or enjoy snorkelling, surfing, scuba-diving and bike rides through the rice fields. Renowned for its excellent food, Kahanda Kanda runs cookery classes with its expert chefs, where guests can master the art of a Sri Lankan curry or a selection of Thai dishes.

For this season, KK Beach will feature four superb air-conditioned suites, all with incredible ocean front views. In keeping with the barefoot luxury and open style of the hotel, the rooms will include full length sliding glass panels, affording the guest uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean, supremely comfortable beds and well appointed bathrooms. The open plan ground floor will house a restaurant serving fresh seafood BBQs, traditional Sri Lankan curries and Western dishes with a local twist.

addddddddddAlong with the laid-back Living Room and bar, these areas will be open to non-residents. A changing display of vibrant artwork from Sri Lankan artists will be on constant display and available to buy. In front of the clear ocean and pristine sandy beach, a sleek swimming pool, an Ambalama for al fresco dining and comfortable sun loungers will be available for guests to relax on and enjoy their day on the beach.

George Cooper has recently expanded his boutique offering in the historic Galle Fort with the March 2016 opening of KK by George, a chic new lifestyle and homeware boutique on 57 Leyn Baan Street. Formerly a renowned interior designer, George has personally sourced and selected an exclusive range of stunning jewellery and stylish clothing for women that will be made in Sri Lanka. This follows the opening of his first boutique, KK Collection, in November 2015 on 71 Pedlar Street in Galle Fort. This larger boutique sells a variety of carefully selected homeware products including cutlery, quilted hand block bedspreads, placemats and handmade gifts, mostly manufactured in Sri Lanka, supplemented with select items from Thailand, Indonesia and India as well as a selection of contemporary art work all by Sri Lankan artists.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/563929/New-beachfront-hotel-and-club–KK-Beach–opening-in-December#sthash.46RtQDAv.dpuf

The Fortress Resort and Spa: A luxurious experience

Untitled-1Untitled-2Untitled-3 By Shannine Daniel

Nestled atop the rocky outcrop of the Koggala beach is The Fortress Resort and Spa. Given its close proximity to the famous surfing hotspot and the town of Galle itself and its many attractions, the hotel has done very well over the past nine years it has been in operation.

Completed in 2007, it is a modern luxury boutique resort centred on the concept of the Galle Fort and had a total of 49 rooms at first. The Fortress Director and General Manager Jan Van Twest revealed that at the time it was one of the oldest small luxury hotels in Sri Lanka.

Bearing the influence of both colonial Dutch and Portuguese styled architecture and old-fashioned Sri Lankan motifs and furnishings, the hotel blends together both ancient and modern cultural and architectural elements. The massive wooden door at its entrance, the sweeping staircases on either side that lead directly to the second level of the resort, the tall rounded wooden pillars and shingled roof seem to echo that of the ancient and historic fort in Galle, which is indeed one of our country’s most prominent cultural and historical landmarks.

As of now the resort has a total of 53 rooms and suites, and while that may not be a large number, the management and staff made it quite clear to us that they place great importance on quality and providing a comfortable experience for their guests, many of them being visitors from foreign countries.

There are a total of 240 employees working at The Fortress, and according to The Fortress Business Development Manager Manoj Devaraj, this means that there are about four to five staff members taking care of the guests in each room.

Devaraj stated that 40% of the resort’s clientele is from the UK. It is the biggest market for the hotel, with Sri Lanka coming next in line, having replaced Russia which was the second highest market till 2013. He added that India and China are now two of the emerging markets for The Fortress, with an increase in the number of guests from said countries over the past few years.

About 350 upmarket clients repeatedly visit The Fortress Resort every year and in order to ensure these frequent visitors are content, the hotel is therefore refurbished every year.

“What our customers like best about the hotel is the size of the rooms and the amenities, because we offer the best of brands, plus the free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and the spa facilities,” Devaraj emphasised.

The rooms

Untitled-4Most of the rooms and suites have been designed carefully to comprise a private balcony or courtyard with a full view of the hotel’s garden or the breath-taking view of the Koggala beach. They are distinctly two-toned with dark woods such as mahogany and teak floors in contrast with white and cream furnishings and seem to be very private, and not to mention comfortable.

The hotel pays a great deal of attention to make sure their guests are satisfied and they certainly don’t stint when it comes making sure their customers have the best amenities and services at hand. The rooms come with both air-conditioning and ceiling fans, seven feet by seven feet super king sized beds with Egyptian cotton bedding, espresso making machines, in-room safes, open plan bathrooms with luxurious white marble bath tubs and bath menus as well as the latest entertainment systems with plasma screen TVs and Bose or Geneva DVD players and surround sound.

The Fortress features six varied types of rooms and residences, namely The Fortress Rooms, Beach Rooms, Ocean Rooms, Beach Splash Rooms, Ocean Lofts and Fortress Residences.

The Fortress Rooms: These rooms are the cheapest and one of the most popular of the resort’s rooms and they open onto a private courtyard or garden balcony, and feature a spacious open plan bathroom with twin headed shower and marble bath tub.

Beach Rooms: Located on the ground floor, these rooms have direct access to the gardens, swimming pool, beach and sea which is the main reason why it is a customer favourite. The rooms feature a split-level living area and an open plan bathroom complete with marble bathtub and rainfall shower. They can accommodate either three adults or two adults and two children.

Beach Splash Rooms: This category of room is much similar to the beach rooms except they have enclosed bathrooms and the addition of a four-foot-long attached indoor plunge pool and also comes with personal butler service. These rooms are popular with guests on their honeymoon or those who want some extra privacy.

Ocean Rooms: Similar in size and containing similar amenities as with the Beach Rooms and Beach Splash Rooms, these rooms are also quite popular with visitors. They are located on the upper floor of the resort and feature high vaulted ceilings and attached Jacuzzis overlooking the sea.

Ocean Lofts: At double the size of a Beach or Ocean Room, the Ocean Lofts run from the first to the second floor, connected by a wooden staircase near the entrance. On the ground floor is a large living room with indoor plunge pool, day bed, plasma screen TV and high quality sound systems and a bathroom, while the bedroom on the second floor has an additional day bed and a bathroom en-suite with both rainfall and wall showers. The resort plans to introduce an IPV TV system for these rooms in future, where customers will have the benefit of ordering their menus and surfing the internet etc. via their TV.

Fortress Residences: The two Fortress Residences are located on opposite sides of the upper floor; each 240sqm Residence features two bedrooms, bathrooms with built-in TVs, a separate living room, entertainment area with cinema-screen sized TV, and a dining deck and a 10-foot-long private plunge pool with a great view of the beach outside. Guests staying in the Residences also have 24-hour private butler services. The residences are mainly popular with foreigners regularly visiting the country on business.

The Spa

The Spa is of course a prominent element of the resort that draws a large number of clients, from far and wide. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the spa is the fact that it is the first and only Sri Lankan Spa which contains a DXA machine that can scan and identify the fat deposits in a person’s body.

The Spa spans both floors of the hotel, and contains six dual spa suites, relaxation spaces, a steam room, and a small garden with a water feature, a yoga pavilion and a fitness studio. Both classical and Ayurvedic treatments are employed and the therapists and practitioners prepare their own treatments and make use of Sothys products as well.

To complete the whole Zen experience a concept called the ‘twilight spa’ has also been introduced; in the evening the equipment used in the spa is taken in to the garden along with the treatments so that the clients may feel more relaxed and at peace in the outdoor environment.

The food 

The Fortress has a wide range when it comes to its cuisine comprising of Sri Lankan specialties, innovative international cuisine and signature cocktails. Even though there are three restaurants, there is only one main dining area, which is partly terraced and located adjoining the tree-lined pool. The hotel also promotes private dining experiences in the gardens, on the beach or in the rooms.

Untitled-7There are three restaurants located at The Fortress. ‘Pepper’ is the main restaurant which features both buffet meals and al la carte dishes of signature International cuisines and authentic Sri Lankan specialities and it is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Outdoor restaurant ‘Heat’ brings the tastes of the Mediterranean by presenting tapas and authentic pizzas from the wood-fired clay oven.

The fine dining restaurant called ‘Duo’ which serves up surf and turf menu, is housed in a glass cellar and contains a selection of over 2,000 wines which can be arranged exclusively for 12 guests.

High teas are served in T-lounge on the first floor of the hotel. The guests are guided through Sri Lanka’s finest selection of teas by a resident tea taster accompanied by pastries and cheesecake.

The ocean-facing Sea Lounge offers a huge selection of mock tails and cocktails and snacks and features   neon blue lights, lounge seating, swing chairs and a live jazz band on the weekends.

Additional facilities 

Other than the Spa, the resort also has several other services available to make their visitors feel more at home and relaxed and happy. These include the gym facilities and fitness centre, free yoga and water aerobics classes available twice a week, and also a wide variety of kids’ activities such as games, boat rides and visiting the rain forest or the turtle hatcheries.

The Fortress also caters to small scale weddings that comprise of about 40 to 50 guests, and has an outdoor area complete with a pavilion to host the wedding party and the guests and also provides the photographers and musicians and even the traditional drummers and the dancers needed for a Sri Lankan wedding.

It also provides facilities for conferences since it is located close to the Koggala airstrip and the free trade zone and can accommodate up to 50 people in its conference room. Devaraj mentioned that the GSK regional conference as well as a conference organised by Marks and Spencer were recently held at The Fortress’s conference hall.

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Pix by Gitika Talukdar

The Fortress launches exotic and sumptious Sea Food Buffet on Weekends

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Taking full advantage of the readily-available varieties of sea food that are found at Koggala The Fortress recently began focusing on a new concept in dining for its guests and the customers visiting the resort specifically for the food, since the resort is popular for its seafood dishes. This new concept brings two of Koggala’s infamous specialties, the emperor prawn and the king crab, in to the spotlight.

“We want to give our customers the best we can offer,” said Fortress Resort and Spa Executive Chef Kumar Warnakula.

The seafood experience begins on Saturday night and goes on till Sunday night, targeting those who have journeyed down south from Colombo to enjoy the weekend which the main reason why Sunday’s lunch buffet is different from what is served on the rest of the week, stated Warnakula.

Sunday’s lunch buffet is a small spread but with a lot of variety of dishes from diverse cuisines; Sri Lankan and Indian style curries, Emperor Prawn and King Crab centred pastas and a few other Western style dishes, Malaysian rice dishes, chicken satays and prawn kebabs, seafood cocktails and even separate sections for Japanese sushi and sashimi and Indian and Sri Lankan staples such as naan and chapathi and hoppers.

There are 20 different desserts available for the buffet; varied dishes such as baked Alaska, French pastries, cupcakes, slices of cut, fresh fruits, caramel pudding, mint pudding, coffee flavoured mousse, fruit filled tarts with cream and strawberry panna cotta and each dessert is equally delicious and vibrantly colourful.

“We always try to make something different on Sundays,” stated award-winning The Fortress Resort and Spa Executive Chef Asanka Wickremesinghe.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/563827/The-Fortress-Resort-and-Spa–A-luxurious-experience#sthash.VJZqcM78.dpuf

Sri Lanka holds tourism promotion event in Stockholm

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The Sri Lankan Embassy in Sweden conducted a tourist outreach promotional event titled ‘A Glimpse of Sri Lanka’ on the 13 August at the Wallenbergs Torg in Stockholm, an open air venue located in the city’s centre.

This central location made it convenient for city dwellers, tourists and all passersby to spare a moment of their time on the sunny weekend to witness several aspects of culture and tourism that Sri Lanka has to offer the world.

Since the sunny weather conditions prevailing in Scandinavia at this time of the year usually provoke a festive mood and motivate people to think about their next holiday destination, the embassy seized the opportunity to conduct the event in August during the height of summer.

The large LED digital screen placed at the venue by the embassy relayed cultural and tourism information on Sri Lanka, allowing visitors to consider having their next holiday in the country.

The sprawling extent of the area at Wallenbergs Torg offered the embassy the flexibility to display posters and other cultural artefacts of Sri Lanka illustrating the beauty and rich culture the country is endowed with.

Introducing Sri Lankan music to the public and adding more colour and vibrancy to the event, a group of Sri Lankan expatriates, clad in typical batik sarongs and straw hats, joined together in song, much to the delight of those present at the occasion.

The information centre set up at the venue by the embassy distributed tourist brochures to several inquiring visitors. A culinary demonstration where hoppers and dosa were prepared drew a large crowd interested in Sri Lankan cuisine. The visitors savoured the flavours of other varieties of Sri Lankan food as well.

Other attractions included the tea stall containing an assortment of Ceylon tea presented artistically to generate interest among onlookers curious to learn more this precious commodity. The slightly chilly afternoon, combined with the comfortable seating arrangements made available at the stall, created the perfect ambiance for the visitors to sit back and enjoy a relaxed conversation with their friends over a cup of Ceylon tea.

The Wallenbergs Torg was made accessible to the Sri Lanka Embassy on the basis of an agreement the embassy reached with the Stockholm Stad (the municipality of Stockholm Organization).

The Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and the Ceylon Tea Board played a pivotal role in assisting the Sri Lankan Embassy in Stockholm to bring the event to fruition. Many Sri Lankan expatriates extended their support towards the event in numerous ways.

The embassy conducted the event to reach out directly to the client, which is considered one of the most effective methods of promoting tourism.

In consonance with the title of the event ‘A Glimpse of Sri Lanka’, this activity helped promote Sri Lanka as one of the exquisite destinations in the world.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/563685/Sri-Lanka-holds-tourism-promotion-event-in-Stockholm#sthash.TqlToTpg.dpuf

Hospitality Investment Conference Indian Ocean kicks off in Colombo

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The two-day annual Hospitality Investment Conference Indian Ocean (HICIO) 2016 kicked off yesterday at Hilton Colombo. The event focuses on the markets of the Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and the Seychelles within the Indian Ocean (IO) region. Tourism Minister John Amaratunga, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Maldives Deputy Minister of Tourism  Hussain Lirar attended the ceremonial inauguration

– Pix by Gitika Talukdar

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/563693/Hospitality-Investment-Conference-Indian-Ocean-kicks-off-in-Colombo#sthash.h4fxz2tA.dpuf