Archive for September, 2016

Fairway Holdings takes Sri Lankan hospitality to new level with ZMAX Fairway Colombo

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Strolling down Hospital Street one is surrounded by buildings that have stood for over 100 years as a legacy of the colonial era. Approaching the ZMAX Fairway Colombo, the seven-storey building fits into the neighbourhood like the missing piece of a puzzle, mirroring the colonial architecture of the surrounding buildings. However, upon entering the hotel it’s as if one has left behind the old and stepped into the new.

“From the very beginning of construction – you may recall that the site was a bare piece of land that served as a car park – we were quite aware of the need to ensure that the hotel merged with the surrounding environment and architecture. Our goal was to make sure that when you walk along the arcade, you would feel as if your surroundings were part of a structure that has been around since colonial times. The last thing we wanted was to be guilty of disrupting the structural environment of this particular area,” said Fairway Holdings Group CEO Imal Fonseka.

Greeted at the entrance by cheerful and competent staff members, the entire process of checking in is carried out without the use of a single piece of paper. Tastefully abstract paintings are the only form of decoration upon the walls. Painted solely by renowned artist, Anoma Wijewardena, the paintings depict natural phenomena brought to life with intricate and skilled brushwork. Each guest is presented with a key card, which grants access to the elevator as well as the respective room.

The room comes alive as a guest enters, thanks to ultra-sensitive motion sensors, and turns off when its occupant leaves, as a way of preserving electricity. Just as in the lobby there is no paper to be found in the room, not in the form of a menu or telephone directory. The rooms themselves are spacious and comfortable, each with a clean and well-maintained bathroom attached.

ZMAX Fairway Colombo comprises meeting rooms, a gym, a food court and a total of 181 rooms that range from single bedrooms to family rooms, some of which come complete with a pantry and living room. The hotel also features seven accessible rooms for differently abled guests. There is nothing that has not been thought of from the most minute of details like the choice of crockery for the rooms that come with a pantry, to the special additions to the accessible rooms.

However, the key feature of each room is the IP-TV that offers not just a number of varying channels to suit the interests of the guests, but also a selection of restaurants from which a guest may select their choice of dish and have it delivered to the hotel without ever having to leave the room. But should one wish to dine out, the hotel’s location places one within walking distance of some of the most renowned restaurants and pubs in Colombo.

The ‘Z’ in ZMAX Fairway Colombo is a representation of generation Z. A generation that values connectivity, privacy and the environment, which is exactly what, the hotel offers.

“The focus of this particular target group is very clear and these are the types of things they look for. So that’s what we provide in this place. If you look at the current generation their whole link to the outside world is through a screen, so that’s the type of experience we provide. With a remote and the screen everything is accessible. We’ve taken great care to assure that we’ve created a well-connected hotel.

“Another thing they’re very concerned about is their privacy. That’s why there’s no banquet hall. This is to make sure that upon entering a guest is not greeted by 500 people crowded in the lobby, nor will our guests have to endure the sounds of loud music and the sounds of celebration.

“Another characteristic of this group of customers, is they are very much aware of the environment, they don’t want to feel guilty about leaving too much of an impact or footprint on the environment. It is a thought we at Fairway understand all too well, which is why we have gone to great lengths to ensure that all of the hotel’s activities and various processes are environment friendly. Unlike most hotels, we’re not trying to attract everyone; our goal is to attract a particular group of customers to whom these things are important,” explained Fonseka.

Speaking about Fairway Holdings’ partnership with the Plateno Group Fonseka had this to say, “They are the top ranking hotel group in China. When we began discussions with the company, they were number 7 in the world and today they’ve risen to number 5. This shows that Plateno, much like Fairway Holdings is a company of the future.

Fairway Holdings brings smart luxury to life in the form of ZMAX Fairway Colombo – Sri Lanka’s most technologically advanced city hotel, which offers comfort, connectivity and privacy through high-tech innovation.

 

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/570656/Fairway-Holdings-takes-Sri-Lankan-hospitality-to-new-level-with-ZMAX-Fairway-Colombo#sthash.DCeYfHCA.dpuf

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Cinnamon Life launches ‘The Suites’ residential tower

At the time of launch, pre-bookings for ‘The Suites at Cinnamon Life’ have exceeded 15 percent, whilst over 50 percent of the floor space of the first residential tower ‘The Residence at Cinnamon Life’ has already been sold.

Construction on the integrated resort project is continuing at a steady pace, backed by the efforts of a consortium of contractors headed by Hyundai Engineering and Construction. With an estimated total cost of US $ 850 million, the Cinnamon Life project represents the single largest private sector-led investment in Sri Lanka to date.

Comprised of 196 luxurious apartments, the second residential tower will rise 39 stories to a height of 136 meters and will include a comprehensive suite of facilities including an elegant swimming pool, modern gymnasium, steam and sauna rooms and a landscaped podium and roof-top featuring breathtaking views of the island’s commercial capital.

JKH property group Chief Marketing Officer/executive Vice President Roshanie Jayasundera Moraes commenting on the launch said, “We are pleased to launch the second residential tower ‘The Suites at Cinnamon Life’, which will comprise of 192 units of two-bedroom apartments and four penthouse units. We decided to launch the second tower after the tremendous success on the sales of the first residential tower ‘The Residence at Cinnamon Life’. The prebookings for ‘The Suites’ have also been very encouraging. An investment in an apartment at Cinnamon Life will give investors a greater value addition due to the integrated nature of the project.

Situated on prime waterfront property in the heart of Colombo, the Cinnamon Life integrated resort is expected to become one of the city’s most iconic architectural landmarks. The eagerly anticipated project is conceptualised as a ‘Life Capital’, housing an 800-room luxury Cinnamon hotel, an experiential and entertainment haven, residential apartments, stateof-the-art office spaces, high-end retail mall, a wide variety of food and beverage offerings, ballroom, conferencing, theatre and banqueting spaces with capacity for 5000 pax designed to cater to MICE tourism.

Parallel to the launch of ‘The Suites at Cinnamon Life’, the developer also announced the launch of the ‘Cinnamon Life Show Apartment’, enabling prospective buyers to gain a first-hand look at the stylish designs and amenities being built into its residential towers.

The project continues to drive unprecedented interest, both as a valuable investment opportunity as well as an ideal residential location with convenient access to all of the city’s commercial and recreational hotspots and featuring stunning backdrops of the city and the sea.

The Cinnamon Life project is designed by globally renowned architect, artist and engineer, Cecil Balmond, a visionary in the field of architecture famous for his pioneering work on internationally acclaimed properties such as the Arcelormittal Orbit in London and the CCTV in Beijing.

The property arm of the John Keells group has successfully executed prominent landmarks such as Monarch and Emperor at Crescat City, Onthree20 and its latest completed project, 7th Sense – Gregory’s Road.

Source : http://epaper.dailymirror.lk/epaper/viewer.aspx

Mövenpick goes Sri Lankan soul – Swiss heart

Markus Marti, the General Manager of Mövenpick Hotel Colombo, the first new international five-star hotel to open in Colombo in more than 25 years, gives an insightful preview ahead of the highly anticipated January, 2017 launch.

By Dilrukshi Fernando

in-1-1Colombo is fast becoming the city of the high risers; with a number of new properties in various stages of construction. The landscape of the robust and bustling commercial capital of Sri Lanka is gearing up for a massive face lift by the time these projects are complete.

Tourist arrivals to the country have seen a steady growth, reaching 1.36 million from January to August 2016, which according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority is a 16% increase compared to last year. This positive influx of travellers is perhaps a salient reason to attract several key international brands to invest in the leisure and property sectors in the recent years.

Mövenpick Hotel Colombo; located in Colombo 3, with its eye catching abstract exterior; makes Sri Lanka the latest addition to the cluster of properties listed alongside the world renowned Swiss hospitality brand, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. The hotel will be the first new international five-star property to open in Colombo for the last two and a half decades. Construction now completed and interior fit-outs currently underway, the 219-room five-star property marks the entry of Softlogic Holdings PLC into the domain of luxury city hotels.

As the hotel and its team gears up ahead of its January, 2017 launch; the Daily FT sat down with Markus Marti – General Manager, Mövenpick Hotel Colombo for his first interview with the Sri Lankan press to get insights on how the brand sets out to change the hospitality benchmark. Following are excerpts:

Q: Could you elaborate on your journey with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts and where it has taken you?

A: I have been with Mӧvenpick for more than 30 years, since graduating from Hotel Management School in Zurich. Currently I am managing the pre-opening of the Mövenpick Hotel Colombo, a role taken up in September, 2015; which marks my seventh stint as a General Manager with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. Previously I have been with Mӧvenpick properties in Egypt, Mauritius, Maldives and Qatar to name a few.

Q: What do you think are the key factors in selecting Sri Lanka to be a part of Mӧvenpick’s extensive global footprint? 

A: Mövenpick is on a global expansion and growth phase. Our entry into South Asia was marked in India three years ago. Sri Lanka and Switzerland have enjoyed a very special relationship. The highest expat community in Sri Lanka is of Swiss origin and a little known fact is that the Swiss Consulate in Sri Lanka started 100 years ago.

Sri Lanka is enjoying a fabulous image worldwide. The industry catchphrase would be to say ‘the dashboard is definitely green for Sri Lanka!’ The obvious reasons such as climate and diverse natural terrains to the more important factors of human capital – people are extremely friendly and hospitable.

Soon after arriving in Sri Lanka, I scaled the five-star hotels each evening to feel the beat, the pulse. The present setting is very positive and I believe there is much more to come that will lift Colombo’s hospitality scene even further, making new synergies and helping to build up to the industry that will create more job opportunities.

Q: Taking on the seventh successful assignment as General Manager with the world renowned Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, how has your experience in Sri Lanka been thus far? 

A: Pre-opening is a special time. Teams are still getting to know each other and learning to work together. Whenever I am assigned to a new operation, there is a single line of advice that always works right: “Pick the positive things” I always tell myself. So when I leave, I want to have good memories.

In each operation you are working with different cultures and different people. How well you make these differences work will be evident in results you achieve. South Asia is so different to the Middle East from a cultural perspective, where I had been based during the last few years. It needed some adjustments from my side which is normal for a frequent traveller like me.

The hotel pre-opening phase goes through many stages: Pre-opening, purchase of operation supplies and equipment, hiring, training phase and soft opening; a lot of work but exciting work. Everyone has the same target to work towards and this is a place where leadership comes into place. Where bringing in the ‘ship of wisdom’ is not always the best move and you need to keep room for flexibility and unplanned occurrences!

Q: Mövenpick Hotel Colombo not only marks the first five-star Mövenpick hotel in Colombo, it will also be the only five-star property to be built in Colombo for the last two and half decades. What differentiations can the clientele hope to expect from your team to make their experience unique?

A: The Mövenpick Hotel Colombo has a mission. To become the most preferred upscale hotel in Colombo by providing cosmopolitan comfort with panoramic views of the City Sky Line and Indian Ocean, top quality service embraced by a personal touch and seamless technology. Our food and beverage offering and service are unique and impeccable. We make room for business and pleasure with quick access to high end shopping and our fun in-house recreation.

200 rooms and 19 suites will be housed in this property, all of which have panoramic windows. All spaces within the hotel enclosure, including rooms are furnished with material of the highest quality, with products being flown in from various parts of the world; from Middle East to South East Asia and the Fareast.

To extend our vision a bit more, I would like elaborate on the Mövenpick dining experience. Our brand is world renowned for its high standards in food and beverages. We are extending that legacy to Colombo property, which will have five restaurants, three lounges, banqueting and room service to embark on a gastronomical adventure. Guests will experience bars in two of the restaurants as well as whiskey and cigar lounge.

You can choose from multi cuisine dining options, to name a few: A Japanese Robata Grill (‘Robatayaki’ – which is a method of cooking food over a white-hot charcoal grill) or be seated at a French brasserie type of setting, enjoying classical French cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere.

The rooftop Vistas bar is another attraction we are excited to offer the guests. Apart from its stellar 360-degree view, it includes an 18 metre infinity pool and a roof-top bar that can comfortably accommodate 150 guests.

Several recreational activities will be available ranging from spas, salon, pool, steam rooms, nail salon, yoga and aerobics.

Typical products of Mövenpick will be incorporated into our service offerings, catering to worldwide travellers. Those walking in to Mövenpick Hotel Colombo, can expect to find the same high standards and quality we maintain in our chain of properties in Africa, Asia, Middle East and Europe, whether it be room service, menu selections, all day dining or Sunday brunch.

Q: Where do you see the tourism industry heading for South Asian countries in the next three to five years? 

A: The industry already has and will establish a few clear leaders in the South Asian region. Maldives, pitches at very high priced prospects. Colombo on the other hand will be an ideal place for the pre and post leisure travellers who like to spend a few days in a tropical setting before heading back home after a beach holiday in Sri Lanka. The variety on offer in this part of the world in terms of tourism makes it all the more appealing all year round.

Economy is also on an upward trend and this will certainly be favourable to the industry. The possibilities are endless. I hope all the channels will work perfectly and more big names in the industry will be here in the near future.

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Q: In that light, how will Mövenpick deliver on its brand promise? 

A: Our brand promise is ‘Natural Enjoyment’; this means delivering a relaxed, uncomplicated experience that makes our guests happy. Natural Enjoyment is allowing our guests to relax, be themselves, have fun and feel completely at ease. Natural Enjoyment brings a smile to people’s faces.

Our brand promise is aligned to our values of quality, reliability and care with a personal touch and blends perfectly with our hotel’s positioning as a place where visitors can experience hospitality with a Sri Lankan soul and a Swiss heart.

Natural Enjoyment will be brought to life by implementing our company’s signature concepts in our menus and in the way we present our entire dining experience for all ages. We have a range of dining experiences lined up to delight and surprise our guests and they are very unique to our hotels around the world.

For our Colombo operation, we have ensured that 99% of our employees are Sri Lankan. There are only three expats; the Japanese Head Chef, the Swiss Executive Chef and myself! There will be several Sri Lankan employees from various global Mövenpick operations who will be joining us here as well and creating special memories for our guests.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is the most Green Globe certified hotel company in the world. 90% of our properties are certified and Sri Lanka will be aspiring to achieve the same stamp of approval. We have a keen focus on environmental sustainability. One example is the ‘Green Wall’ which will have 14,310 potted plants, you can see as you approach the promenade of the property. We also plan to initiate several Corporate Social Responsibility ventures that will give back to the community in which we live by bringing in the elements of fun, human factor and wellbeing of the society.

Q: What are the future business ventures which we can hope to see from the synergy of Mövenpick and Softlogic Holdings PLC? 

A: It’s a pleasure to work together with such a well-established conglomerate. Many synergies are coming up in the near future. Softlogic City Hotels Ltd. has diversified their enterprise also into resorts, an area which Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has a keen interest to consider for future partnership.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/569962/M%C3%B6venpick-goes-Sri-Lankan-soul-%E2%80%93-Swiss-heart#sthash.cX3AomL4.dpuf

Differently-abled holidays give new growth focus

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Tourism Minister John Amaratunga launching the social media pages for travel documentary ‘Adaraneeya Sri Lanka’, while SLTDA Director General Malraj Kiriella look on

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Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Paddy Withana and SLTDA Director General Malraj Kiriella symbolically handing over a wheel chair to the Central Cultural Fund to be distributed in tourist sites

By Charumini de Silva

Improving access to differently-abled people will be a key focus for Sri Lanka’s burgeoning tourism industry, the Government said yesterday, calling on the entire value chain to align with the global theme for World Tourism Day and see it as an opportunity to generate more business.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) together with stakeholders of the industry celebrated World Tourism Day focusing on the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) theme; ‘Tourism for all – Promoting Universal Accessibility’ at the Sri Lanka Institute of Hotel Management (SLITHM).

Tourism Development, Christian Religious Affairs and Lands Minister John Amaratunga said that this year’s theme was of great relevance to the country and insisted it was the right time for sustainable planning to make Sri Lanka a success story in providing accessibility in this part of the world.

“As a country that has emerged from a three decade long war, that has left thousands of our citizens with various disabilities, Sri Lanka is obliged to put in place the basic facilities needed to ensure both safety and comfort of physically challenged people,” he added.

He emphasised that it was essential to make every effort to make use of modern technology to remove barriers for people with special needs such as hearing and visual impairment, noting that there are many physically challenged people who are eager to explore the island — but hesitant to do so due to inadequate facilities.

The Minister called on industry stakeholders to make the global goal a reality adding that accessibility should not be just confined to hotels, restaurants and tourist sites — but extend to transportation, support services and information dissemination as well.

While reminding that accessibility remains a key component of Sri Lanka’s tourism development strategy he said sustainability of the industry was of equal importance.

“We must ensure that our resources and attractions remain unharmed by the development activities which are currently taking place in every nook and corner of the country. We must resort to eco tourism practices where and whenever possible and the protection of the environment should be at the top of the agenda, which will be in accordance with the UNWTO’s declaration of 2017 as the year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”

World Tourism Day, held annually on 27 September is aimed to foster awareness of the importance of tourism, and its social, cultural, political and economic impact.

Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Paddy Withana also reiterated the significance of increasing accessibility adding that everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis.

The official event unveiled the ‘50 best tourism experiences in Sri Lanka’ and a travel documentary ‘Adaraneeya Sri Lanka’. In addition, SLTDA handed over wheel chairs to the Central Cultural Fund to be distributed in tourist sites.

– Pix by Lasantha Kumara

Tourism Minister confident of 2.5m arrivals in 2016 

Optimistic Tourism Minister John Amaratunga yesterday was upbeat that Sri Lanka would achieve its 2.5 million tourist target by the end of the year despite the first eight months marking only 1.35 million arrivals.

In remarks at the World Tourism Day celebrations held in Colombo he expressed confidence that the forthcoming winter season would be “the best this country has witnessed.”

Noting that next month Sri Lanka will be hosting the annual French Travel Conference in Colombo, he added that it would be a massive boost for the industry as nearly 500 top travel agents from France would be in Colombo to learn more about Sri Lanka.

According to the Minister the launch of ‘50 best tourism experiences in Sri Lanka’ was an attractive method to ensure return visits by travelers.

Amaratunga said: “I like to see the benefits of the tourism industry filtering down to the grassroot levels because that’s when we would experience the real growth.”

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/570168/Differently-abled-holidays-give-new-growth-focus#sthash.z8NANSPc.dpuf

Sri Lankan Flag flies high in Eastern Europe

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Sri Lanka Tourism concludeditswide range of road showsin Eastern Europe, including Poland, Czech Republicand Hungaryon 14,16 and 19 September respectively, in collaborationwith the Sri Lankan Embassy in Poland.

The lighting of the traditional oil lamp was an important segmentof every event, which gave the industry members a glimpse of the Sri Lankan culture.The reason of having these road shows in Eastern Europe was to promote Sri Lanka as a tropical and a beautiful country to explore, with its ancient culture and heritage, history and its pristine beaches.

Sri Lanka is growing to be afamous tourism destination among European nationals, hence, the mission of Sri Lanka Tourism is to promote this paradise island even more, with so many natural resourcesandgetting more European tourists coming especially fromEastern Europe.

Therefore the European market is an important factor in raising Sri Lanka’s economy, and enhancing the market in Eastern Europe, is something that should be taken into consideration. Along with Sri Lanka Tourism,industry members such as Ceylon Roots, Asian Adventures,Aitken Spence Travels, Journey Escapes, Lanka Sportrezien, Tropical Asia Tours,Pledge Holidays, Camlo Lanka Tours, Clover LankaTravels, Coral Sands Hotel, Green Holiday Centre, NKAR Travels, Andrew theTravel Company , Jetwing Travels, Ayubowan Tours and Travels, Golden Isle Travels,E TourismoLanka,Sunway Holidays and Qatar Airways.

A total of 35 companies and 20 journalists from Poland participated in the road shows which were held while 38 tour operator companies and 17 journalists came from the Czech Republicand Hungary added its contribution with 56tour operator companies and 23 journalists.

Sri Lanka wants to develop trade contacts in order to expand the Eastern European tourism market.Tourist arrivals from Eastern Europe region was at 97,583 in August 2016 which was a 6 % increase over the same period last year; 9% of arrivals were fromPoland and 12 % from the Czech Republic.Thus, this will be a good opportunity for Sri Lanka to develop bilateral ties and also strengthen the tourism sector boosting up the Eastern European market.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/570370/Sri-Lankan-Flag-flies-high-in-Eastern-Europe#sthash.h0CEE2OS.dpuf

Himalaya Airlines started Kathmandu-Colombo flights from 1 October

in-4Himalaya Airlines, a Nepal-China Joint Venture Airline, has announced its second destination – Colombo – as the airline commences its passenger services on the Kathmandu-Colombo route with effect from 1 October 2016.

The airline fly its A320-214 (configured with eight Business Class and 150 Economy Class seats) on the new route.

Operating as H9 673, Himalaya is fly every Tuesday and Saturday, departing from Tribhuwan International Airport, Kathmandu at 11:30 a.m. and arriving at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo at 3:15 p.m. The return H9 674 departs Colombo at 4:15 p.m. and arrives in Kathmandu at 8:15 p.m. on the same day.

Himalaya Airlines Administration Vice President Vijay Shrestha said: “After an overwhelming response received from the previous two non-scheduled flights to Colombo, we found this route to hold great potential. We have observed passenger traffic data between the two countries over several years before arriving at this route decision. We are very pleased to be able to resume services to and from Colombo as it is an important market for the tourism promotion of both countries. Flying to this destination will definitely promote tourism between two nations along with generating new business opportunities.”

The airfare offered by the airlines starts from approximately Rs. 40,000 for one way travel and Rs. 68,570 for a round trip, inclusive of governmental taxes.

Himalaya Airlines, a full-service carrier established in August 2014, began its scheduled flight operation flying directly to Doha, Qatar from 31 May 2016. In addition to the opening of the Kathmandu-Colombo route, the Airline has planned regular flights to Delhi, Yangon, Dammam, Beijing, Lhasa, Chengdu, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Dubai.

The airline welcomed its first new aircraft an MSN 6626, an Airbus 320-214 on 9 March 2016. This aircraft carried Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Oli, his wife Radhika Shakya and her delegation on an official visit to Beijing, China on 20 March 2016. The aircraft also flew to Colombo, offering a promotional package round trip on 12 April 2016 and 3 May 2016.

Over the next five years the airline aims to acquire 15 Airbus 320 family aircrafts and will operate from Kathmandu to various cities in Asia and beyond. The company will introduce the long haul wide body aircraft of the A330 family in due course for the operation of direct flights to Japan, Korea, Europe, Australia and America.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/569949/Himalaya-Airlines-to-start-Kathmandu-Colombo-flights-from-1-October#sthash.HzFeBGTy.dpuf

Govt. targets 4 m tourists and $ 10 b earnings by 2020

untitled-2Tourism Development, Christian Religious Affairs and Lands Minister John Amaratunga (centre) in conversation with University of Colombo Vice Chancellor Prof. Lakshman Dissanayake at the ‘Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Research Symposium – 2016’ held at the BMICH Colombo yesterday. Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Paddy Withana is also present – Pic by Lasantha Kumara

By Charumini de Silva

Having earned $ 2.2 billion in the first eight months of 2016, the Government yesterday advocated an ambitious target of four million tourists and $ 10 billion in earnings by 2020, which is about three times the current revenue, terming it “pragmatic” and calling for a strategic public private partnership for development.

In remarks at the ‘Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Research Symposium – 2016’, organised by the Department of Economics of the University of Colombo, Tourism Development, Christian Religious Affairs and Lands Minister John Amaratunga said these were not impossible targets but planning and execution must be spot on.

“Strategic collaboration of public, private and people partnership in tourism development is not only important, it is a necessity,” he added.

In parallel with the World Tourism Day celebrations, the International Research Symposium was held under the theme of ‘Integration and Networking Sri Lanka Tourism Development for All’ at the BMICH in Colombo. The summit brought together top academics and practitioners in the field of tourism locally and internationally, offered a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be of immense benefit to the country’s rapidly growing tourism industry.

The Minister said an initiative of this nature was a long felt need in the country’s national tourism enterprise especially at a time when it is all-systems-go for the industry. “The timing I must say is perfect because it gives us as policymakers the opportunity to benefit from the wealth of knowledge that will be disseminated during the course of this summit. This summit can show us the way to create a win-win-win situation for the tourist, the stakeholder and the country.”

Furthermore, he added that the organisers’ vision of building a strong network among those who matter in this industry, with the goal of making Sri Lanka a much sought-after destination by 2020, was laudable. “In fact if this venture had been launched a few years before we would by now be in an even better position than we are today.”

Amaratunga acknowledged tourism was an industry that needed careful, long-term planning to ensure dividends for both the stakeholders and the country in a sustainable environment, noting that in the short term their top priority was to get the message out to the rest of the world that Sri Lanka was one of the safest places on earth for tourists to visit.

The Minister pointed out that local communities across the country were benefiting through the rise of the informal sector where youth were finding employment in the informal sector as well as mainstream hotels, in providing transport and taxi services, in supplying fresh produce to the hotels, in providing handicrafts, souvenirs and other items for sale to tourists.

Noting that where there is demand there will always be supply, adding that that is how the market economy works, Amaratunga however highlighted that it was important to be aware of the fact that the unregulated growth of any industry could have an adverse impact.

Therefore he pointed out that academic intervention was necessary to harmonise the economic benefits of tourism with socio-cultural and environmental requirements.

While admitting that sustainable practices must be placed at the core of a country’s national tourism enterprise, he said: “I am also keen to see the benefits of our growing tourism industry filtering down to the grassroots level. It is important that the economic benefits of tourism are enjoyed by the fisherman, the gram seller and the tuk-tuk driver as well. Only then can we claim to have reaped the full benefits of the tourism industry.”

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/570536/Govt–targets-4-m-tourists-and—10-b-earnings-by-2020#sthash.HDp3HEQ2.dpuf