Archive for March, 2017

Tourism Vision 2025 to be out in April

  • Rs. 100 m first-ever digital campaign ready for launch in July focusing on Western Europe
  • Awaiting TRO to be sorted to call on bids for digital campaign 
  • Ministry Secy. insists on digital marketing as a key promotional tool to attract modern-day tourists  

The Tourism Development Ministry has submitted the much-awaited Tourism Vision 2017-2025 to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM), setting out the long-term objectives of the industry towards making it the top foreign exchange earner in the country, a top official confirmed.

“Right now we are looking forward to making tourism industry the number one foreign exchange earner for the country. In that context, we have submitted the long-term Tourism Vision to the CCEM along with a three-year Strategic Plan (2017-2020) to realise the objectives set out the 2017-2025 vision,” Tourism Development, Land and Christian Affairs Ministry Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa told the Daily FT.

He said that they hoped to have Tourism Vision 2017-2025 ratified by the Cabinet before the end of next month.

In addition, Sugathadasa said that the first-ever digital marketing campaign of Sri Lanka Tourism, valued at Rs.100 million, would also be launched in July.

“Initially we are thinking of launching the digital marketing campaign targeting our key market in Western Europe which includes Germany, France and the UK,” he noted.

Sugathadasa acknowledged that once the terms of reference (TRO) were outlined, they would call on bids from interested parties to embark on the digital marketing campaign.

Considering the current trends in the world, he insisted that digital marketing was becoming an important promotional tool to attract modern-day tourists who were ICT driven.

“They may be millennials, young professionals, knowledge workers who are fundamentally different in perspective, planning and strategising their visits and holidays, but they are an important segment we need to focus on attracting,” he stressed.

Source :


German Travel Association looks to hosting next AGM in Sri Lanka


Norbert Fiebig, the President of the Deutscher Reise Verband (DRV) also known as German Travel Association, is very optimistic in hosting their next AGM in Sri Lanka with the participation of over 800 of their members.

Welcoming the proposal, Minister Sarath Amaratunga assured the President of DRV that Sri Lanka Tourism with the Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) and the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau would provide all required facilities to make this event successful. DRV said that a group of their memberswill visit Sri Lanka to see venues and other logistic facilities required for their venue.

DRV is a leading tourism association consisting of tour operators, travel agents as well as associated members such as airlines, railways linked to the tourism industry. DRV represents approximately 85% of the total revenue of the German travel and agency tour operators market. It represents the interest of small, mid-size and large companies in the travel industry. Hosting such an event in Sri Lanka is an ideal opportunity to gain new contacts within the German tourism industry.

Initial discussions started when Sri Lanka Tourism made a representation during ITB to DRV the German Travel Association to hold their AGM in Sri Lanka in 2018. Initial discussion meeting was held with DRV along with Paddy Withana, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism, Prema Cooray, Chairman Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau, Devindre Senarathne, President of Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators Association, (SLAITO),Harith Perera, vice president of Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators Association (SLAITO), and Madubhani Perera, Director Marketing of Sri Lanka Tourism.

Devindre Senarathne made a brief on their intention to invite the DRV to Sri Lanka and Chairman expressed the willingness to support in facilitating over 800 travel agents of DRV including air travel and ground hospitality. The Director/Marketing made a presentation on Sri Lanka Tourism attractions to create awareness among the 25 executive committee members who attended the meeting.

Chairman Withana was very confident of hosting the event in Sri Lanka in 2016. Sri Lanka hosted the SNAV French conference where over 350 French Travel Agents visited Sri Lanka.

Source :

Tourism promotion to kick-start in May

Sri Lanka’s tourism sector can heave a sigh of relief. After nearly seven years, Sri Lanka Tourism in May will launch a comprehensive destination campaign initially through digital platforms and thereafter through all media.

The aggressive digital marketing promotion campaign will focus on boosting markets like Germany, Western Europe, Middle East, China and India, said Sutheash Balasubramaniam, Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB).

Thereafter by end 2017-early 2018, SLTPB will launch a more comprehensive, 3-year global campaign running to 2020 touching all media platforms and across the world, he told the Business Times adding that this focus will also be more through what he describes as ‘earned’ media.

Since the conflict ended in May 2009, Sri Lanka has had only one destination marketing campaign in late 2009-2010 and after that bits-and-pieces promotional activities focusing mostly on roadshows and participation at trade fairs. A destination marketing campaign has been in the works for several years but stalled by budgets and bureaucratic delays.

The SLTPB is banking on a heavy social media presence and customer previews on travel and hotel platforms. “Today the advertorial market is beginning to pay less and less. Today’s travelers decide on a destination or hotel by looking at TripAdvisor. They don’t look at the website of the hotel but check online reviews and see what others guests are saying. This is not paid or owned media but earned media because a destination earns fame through its visitors,” he said adding that the return on investment of those commercial ads is declining.

While India and China may be scoring by the numbers, it is Western Europe (the UK, Germany and France) that is and has been Sri Lanka’s most mature and sophisticated source markets.

“Western Europe is the largest source market, region-wide. Germany is one market that has stayed with us through the thick and thin (during the troubled years of the conflict 1983-2009),” said Mr. Balasubramaniam. Unlike Asians, Europeans stay longer, spend more and frequent top end hotels.

Last year, national carrier SriLankan Airlines pulled out of Europe, barring the UK, to cut losses on uneconomic routes. It ran the only direct flights to Colombo from Paris, Rome and Frankfurt. KLM and Austrian Airlines began flights to Colombo last year.

Mr. Balasubramanian acknowledges that the loss in direct connectivity is always an issue. “Direct air connectivity has grown in importance and is an added factor in going to certain destinations as against having a couple of transfers. But the fact is that these are robust markets in Sri Lanka and despite a near 30-years of instability in the country, these markets have continued to patronize us,” he said.

“Right now SriLankan Airlines is going through a restructuring process. Once that is finalized, we would be in a better position to decide how to bring in direct connectivity. At some point we hope to resume flights,” he added.

Source :

Sri Lanka looks at increased connectivity to boost tourism

Public and private sector tourism stakeholders last week identified 15 priority projects including increased connectivity to key markets aimed to boost and sustain tourism growth over the next three years.

The came at a full day workshop held at Temple Trees on Thursday to identify these priorities. It was organised by the Ministry of Policy Development and Economic Affairs.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga, and Deputy Tourism Minister, Arundika Fernando participated in the workshop which was conducted under the auspices of the Government’s Economic Delivery Programme, which aims to accelerate the delivery of Sri Lanka’s most important economic outcomes over the next three years, a Tourism Ministry media release said.

“These outcomes are: an increase in median income, private sector job creation, foreign and domestic investment, exports and government revenue. Under this programme, tourism has been selected as one of six areas for acceleration. The other areas are: agriculture, manufacturing, investment acceleration, digital economy and government revenue. The government has also set up a ‘Delivery Unit’ called the Central Programme Management Unit (CPMU), to support the implementation of the Economic Delivery Programme,” the release added.

More than 150 tourism industry representatives engaged in brain storming sessions coming from diverse sub-sectors within the travel and tourism industry, with both large and boutique, Sri Lankan and international players represented.

At the conclusion of the workshop a selection of the most impactful projects were presented to the Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism who will regularly review progress to ensure rapid and effective implementation. They are:

· Improve international air connectivity to priority markets (from 80 to 130 flights per day) through more direct flights, open skies policy, competitive landing and parking fees, incentivising low-cost airlines and smoother immigration and check-in procedures.

· Work with public and private stakeholders to create a ‘Colombo Calendar’ of events which tourists can access across multiple channels (e.g., pick up from hotels or in the airports, access online, get notifications over social media).

· Fast-track tailored destination marketing campaigns in the key source markets; initiate a digital marketing campaign in next 1-2 months, as a precursor to the upcoming global campaign.

Source :

1st international food court in Sri Lanka at Colombo City Centre

A mixed development project by Abans Group and Silver Needle Hospitality

Colombo City Centre, a progressive mixed-use venture by the Abans Group in collaboration with Silver Needle Hospitality, is all set to change the urban culinary landscape of the city by partnering with Food Studio, a one-of-a-kind international food court concept that is scheduled to open by December.

On 10 March at the CCC Experience Centre, the agreement was signed by Abans Group Director Rusi Pestonjee on behalf of Colombo City Centre and Food Studio Chairperson Lim Tai Toon, on behalf of Food Studio, signifying Colombo City Centre’s commitment towards elevating the food culture in Colombo, whilst providing an assortment of distinctive dining options to Colombo citizens.17-4

Food Studio, the brand operating and managing the CCC Food Court, is an innovative food court construct founded and launched by Lim Tai Toon, a Singaporean Business magnate who is also the Co-Founder of Food Republic, an internationally renowned restaurant chain that hosts numerous restaurants and food courts across the Asian region.

Through the CCC Food Court, Food Studio will focus on introducing a new, unique food court concept in Sri Lanka by offering an array of diverse, eclectic cuisines, ranging from fine dining to street-style food, that have been specifically tailored for the Sri Lankan palate.

The Food Court will allow customers to enjoy a truly cosmopolitan dining experience in comfort, ease, and style.

Located on the 3rd floor of Colombo City Centre, the Food Court will provide Sri Lankans the opportunity to undertake a long-deserved culinary journey around the world by exploring the unique, rich, authentic flavours that the international cuisines available at the food court will have to offer. This set of cuisines will consist of Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Sri Lankan and many others.

Plus, it will possess a mezzanine floor within the food court space, which will comprise of a mix of quick service restaurants, food stalls, and miniature food kiosks. The Food Court will also include an open-air terrace, bistro, a microbrewery with Western BBQ-style food and seafood as well as a modern tea bar.

Commenting on the unique nature of the Food Court, Lim Tai Toon said: “Food courts in Sri Lanka have in the past, fulfilled a basic need to simply satisfy one’s hunger. People typically go in, eat quickly, and leave. Food Studio will create a clean, relaxed, unhurried, and comfortable environment coupled with a variety of quality, affordable, and authentic international cuisine that makes dining at Food Studio a memorable out-of-home family time.”

He further elaborated that the Food Court will showcase a modern deconstructivist design, which will be a dynamic synergistic interaction between the modernist approach and elements of traditional Sri Lankan architecture, whilst featuring a lush tropical garden setting, and interior décor that will utilise cultural artefacts.

Colombo City Centre Chief Executive Officer Anand Sundaram further remarked: “The Denizens of Colombo are well travelled and have aspirations of creating a world city. CCC endeavours to provide them with that much needed mall of international standards and quality befitting such needs. We are now delighted that Food Studio is partnering with us to bring the best of gastronomic experiences for the families of Colombo.  Besides focusing on bringing in over 15 international quality food and beverages across 415 seats, Lim, Nadeem and the entire team at Food Studio at Colombo City Centre have also promised to ensure that both the ambience as also the service levels will be at par with the best in the world –and offer something that Colombo is long deserving of.”

Situated along the scenic belt of the Beira Lake, Colombo City Centre aims to redefine and uplift the standards of urban luxury living in Sri Lanka. This ultra-modern mixed-use venture will provide residents the opportunity to partake in a truly enriching, high-end lifestyle with its inclusion of an opulent residential complex that will reinvent luxury living in Sri Lanka; a five-floor retail lifestyle mall that will offer a premium shopping experience, fine dining, a gourmet supermarket, children’s play area and more; and Next Hotel, the flagship brand of Silver Needle Hospitality that will utilise a smart approach towards accommodating the needs of professional business travellers.

Source :–Sri-Lanka-at-Colombo-City-Centre#sthash.i6u8KHkG.dpuf

Tourist arrives to double at Arugam Bay

 Arugam Bay popularly known and called as ‘Tourists Paradise’ is now being frequented by tourists from various parts of the world. An increased number of Tourists are expected to visit the area in year 2017.

The Arugam Bay in the Pottuvil Division in the Ampara District is also turning out to be a popular health resort attracting both foreign and local tourists.

The beach isn’t the only attraction in the area. The countryside of the village of Arugam Bay brings about loveliest sceneries that span over mangrove, jungle, lagoon, river, rice fields and dunes.

The area also reputed for its rich cultural heritage and famous religious places like Mudu Maha Vihara, Magul Maha Vihara, Kudumbigala archaeological sites and Aukenda Temples. They also come to watch birds at the Kumuna National Park and visit sand dunes.

The surfing season in Arugam Bay starts in April and ends in October. During the season the wind is predominantly offshore. Two kilometers inland from Arugam Bay is scenic Pottuvil Lagoon. Pottuvil Lagoon tour a local fisherman is another joy at Arugam Bay.

The season for Dolphin viewing at Arugam Bay beach is the period of April to October that falls within the high season of Arugam Bay.

12 km south of Arugam Bay is Panama, the last inhabited village that precedes the Yala East National Park. Panama that stays somewhat inland yet intersects with lagoons is rich in bird life.

20 km south of Panama is the village of Okanda that has a popular surfing spot.

The Village is home to a famous shrine located at the point God skanda is believed to have landed on the island.

Kumuna Bird Sanctuary, fed by a channel from the River Kumbukkan Oya is the focal point of Yala East National Park.

About 20 km into the park is Kumuna reservoir of which mangroves host a wide array of aquatic birds where many nest in May and June.

A few kilometers inland from Okanda lay the Kudumbigala forest hermitage. About 15 km inland from Arugam Bay, (on Siyambalanduwa – Pottuvil road) the main road passes through the scenic Lahugala Park draws a population of about 150 elephants during July and August.

Just east of Lahugala lies a cluster of ruins of the ancient Buddhist temple called Magul Maha Vihara build by King Dhatusena.

All these makes the location a a major draw for tourists.

Source :

River cruise on the Mahaweli: A Cinnamon Citadel experience


 The guests of Cinnamon Citadel, Kandy are now welcome to embark on a boat ride along Sri Lanka’s longest river, the Mahaweli, to further enrich this idyllic escape from the mundane. The tranquil nature of the stunning environment that surrounds the hotel flows through the entire experience, both within the confines of the hotel and the lush green landscape.

The smooth lull of the boat on Mahaweli waters, is no ordinary boat ride; guests will travel with expert naturalists attached to Cinnamon Nature Trails, the eco-tourism and excursions arm of Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts, further enhancing the excursion via the flashes of colour and the melodious chirps of the endemic bird life.

Sashaying through the Mahaweli, guests will spot an array of wetland birds, the long-legged Herons, the family oriented Cranes and the brightly coloured Kingfishers. Amphibians and reptiles too lurk in and around the banks of the river, exposing visitors to an almost utopian-like co-existence of diverse species.

The dense bio-diversity in the vicinity enables guests the ability to spot bird-life and wildlife even while dining at the main restaurant of the hotel -Panorama, which opens out to the breathtaking view of the Mahaweli and the surrounding mountain range. A dip in the pool, surrounded by natural landscapes, will further envelop guests into the magical healing properties that nature offers in abundance. While all guests who visit Cinnamon Citadel Kandy thrive on the scenic beauty of Kandy and the pure bliss that a Zen atmosphere brings, the expert naturalists of Cinnamon Nature Trails are well equipped to cater to avid bird watching and nature enthusiasts. With the skillful guidance of the naturalists, visitors may venture out of the hotel premises and walk through the forests, trek on the Knuckles mountain range, climb the Adams Peak and camp on the Horton Plains.

All experts necessary for professional level bird watching are available in-house. Guests are therefore welcome to take Cinnamon Nature Trails up on the offer of stepping out of the hotel and into the wetland forests to explore the vibrant birdlife that flutter about. Expert naturalists will ensure that they spot as many birds as the visitor’s time will allow. Passionate bird watchers are recommended to spend 10 to 15 days in order to see all 30 endemic bird species and most of the 169 migrant birds among the 490 bird species in existence in the country. Sri Lanka, being a tropical country is blessed with a year round birding season and is the ideal destination for ardent bird watchers any time of the year.

Cinnamon Citadel Kandy offers guests a relaxing getaway on one of the country’s most culturally rich regions. The hotel is best known for its amazing views from any part of its premises. Located just 15-20 minutes from the town, visitors can explore much more than the excursions within the vicinity as the hotel is situated inconvenient proximity to gain access to the Peradeniya botanical gardens, the Temple of the Tooth relic or the Udawatte Kele sanctuary to mention a few.

Source :