Archive for May, 2017

SriLankan expands network to Myanmar in partnership with Myanmar Airways International

01SriLankan Airlines will expand its network to Yangon, capital of Myanmar, from 1st June 2017, with the commencement of a codeshare partnership with Myanmar Airways International (MAI), one of Myanmar’s best-known airlines.SriLankan ( will codeshare on flights operated by MAI between Bangkok and Yangon; and also Singapore and Yangon; while MAI will codeshare on flights operated by SriLankan between Colombo and Bangkok, and Colombo and Singapore. Passengers will enjoy the conveniences of the partnership, such as a single ticket itinerary and interlined luggage.

SriLankan Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer Siva Ramachandran said: “We are pleased to extend our network to Yangon, as part of our dynamic ongoing strategy of focusing on the Asia-Middle East region, which is the fastest growing market for global air travel. Myanmar is currently experiencing considerable growth in tourism, and we are confident that the addition of Yangon will strengthen our network and help serve the needs of our customers.”

SriLankan has in recent months expanded its codeshare agreements with several other airlines in order to strengthen its network and provide enhanced travel options for its customers. With the addition of Yangon, SriLankan’s global network will span 101 destinations in 48 countries. SriLankan is also part of the prestigious oneworld global airline alliance network which serves over 1,000 cities in 160 countries.

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Debug Hospitality and Leisure launches Amber Collection in Sri Lanka

A pioneering concept to bring a new dimension of relaxation into the local leisure sector


The leisure arm of the renowned Sri Lankan brand Debug – Debug Hospitality and Leisure Ltd. – has officially unveiled ‘The Amber Collection’, the newest high-end offering by the company for leisure and business travellers. The collection consists of boutique service apartments called ‘Amber FR 16’ and a fleet of luxury houseboats ‘Amber Flow’. Debug Hospitality and Leisure officially unveiled this product at the recently concluded Sancharaka Udawa, the exhibition organised by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) to promote niche tourism products and services in Sri Lanka.

Expressing his views about their latest offering, Debug Hospitality and Leisure General Manager Chiranjeewa Amarasinghe said, “Each service apartment and houseboat of The Amber Collection have undergone a carefully thought through process of designing and structuring. It has helped us to present our customers with the best experience as well as strengthen Debug’s presence in the local hospitality sector with a high quality product. Both the service apartments and houseboats have been built with careful attention to detail, ensuring your stay is super comfortable with a plethora of amenities. I believe this new collection by Debug will bring leisure seekers and business travellers to the perfect getaway to enjoy a hassle-free day with a touch of class and calmness, offering a new dimension of relaxation.”

Located in the heart of Colombo, the spacious Amber FR 16 service apartments consist of four two-bedroom apartments and four studio apartments. With a varied range of facilities – a modern kitchenette, internet access, and tea/coffee making facilities to name a few, these service apartments are great for relaxation and work for any given moment. With its competitive pricing and central location to the country’s leading convenience stores, restaurants, shopping malls and entertainment venues, Amber FR 16 service apartment is an investment with a real value for its money. Debug’s novel concept in providing the ideal space and location to host an important meeting or create an everlasting memory of the perfect holiday with your loved one, is going to create a new horizon of opportunities for the Sri Lankan real estate market.

Debug Hospitality and Leisure will also launch ‘Amber Flow’, a fleet of luxury houseboats under The Amber Collection. The state of the art houseboats will have three 35m2 rooms with key facilities and excellently cater to all locals and tourists who love to savour a unique time by gliding over the picturesque waterways of the country, offering a perfect blend of modern lifestyle and experiential living. The first set of Amber Flow houseboats will roam the serene Bolgoda Lake at the reputed club house – The Marina, welcoming all abroad to experience an unforgettable stay.

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SriLankan to fly daily to Melbourne

President Maithripala Sirisena visited Australia’s nuclear agency, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO), on an inspection tour to see its advanced research on utilization of nuclear science for disease diagnosis and medication. President Sirisena also met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the second day of his three-day state visit to Australia and, following bilateral talks, three agreements were inked between the two countries.

SriLankan Airlines, the National Carrier of Sri Lanka and a member of the prestigious oneworld alliance, will be establishing its presence in Australia with daily non-stop services to Melbourne commencing October 29 this year.

The non-stop services will also facilitate passengers from the Middle East and South Asia seeking onward connectivity via Colombo to/from Australia. SriLankan Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer, Captain Suren Ratwatte said “Our presence in Australia cements the long-standing relationship between our two countries. We recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our nations, and the addition of Melbourne signifies our strategy of optimizing the airline’s network in line with our restructuring. This also means that we have connected another continent to our global route map. On the other hand, given the number of Sri Lankans residing in and around Victoria, we fulfill a long felt need for a direct service. We are proud to welcome all the diverse residents of Victoria who can now enjoy the direct connections when visiting their friends and families throughout our network.”

The airline will be operating Airbus 330-200 aircraft on the route, offering its passengers modern in-flight comforts complemented with its award winning service and the world renowned Sri Lankan warmth and hospitality.

SriLankan Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer, Siva Ramachandran said, “Despite the absence of direct connections, we have witnessed a steady increase in passengers travelling between Colombo and Melbourne via various Asian connecting points such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Our direct services will give us a definite advantage as SriLankan is the only carrier that is able to offer connectivity of this nature at this time. We also offer seamless onward connections beyond Colombo to a range of destinations in the Indian Sub-Continent and Middle East. With the launch of the new services, SriLankan Airlines’ passengers will also have the choice of flying to other Australian cities such as Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide as well as Auckland, New Zealand. SriLankan Airlines will continue to explore potential expansion opportunities across its network in order to facilitate the envisaged growth in business.”

Australia’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Bryce Hutchesson said, “We congratulate SriLankan Airlines on the addition of a direct flight to Australia. Direct air connections between countries stimulate two-way tourism, business, and trade and people-to-people exchange which are the core ingredients for a vibrant bilateral relationship. We are seeing a growing number of Australians looking to travel to Sri Lanka for tourism and business, and to reconnect with family. And we welcome the growing number of Sri Lankans travelling to Australia for education, business, to explore Australia’s culture and natural wonders, and of course to catch up with family and friends.”

Widely known as “a city for all seasons,” Melbourne offers the travellers a wide variety of historic and natural attractions along with urban cityscapes preserving colonial architecture. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, offers heritage, wildlife as well as adventure sports and surfing hotspots for the adventurous Australian traveller. Over the years, the two countries have shared a mutual passion– cricket, which has inspired fans to travel the distance in support of their respective home teams.

More importantly, Australia accounts for one of the largest Sri Lankan communities living outside Sri Lanka, out of which almost 50 percent lives in and around Victoria, making Melbourne the convenient terminus for their departures and arrivals.

For the convenience of travellers seeking onward connectivity from its Colombo hub, SriLankan currently connects over 10 Indian points with over 100 flights a week, which includes services to/from Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Calcutta, Trivandrum, Tiruchirappalli, Cochin, Mumbai and New Delhi. SriLankan will be adding Visakhapatnam, Coimbatore and Hyderabad to its route network in July this year, further expanding its presence in India.

The Airline’s Middle Eastern services include over fifty weekly flights to/from nine Middle Eastern destinations, including daily services out of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, Bahrain and Kuwait. The Airline also offers its passengers the option of exploring popular holiday destinations such as Seychelles and Maldives’ Male and Gan Island.

These operations will further complement the existing double daily services offered by SriLankan Airlines between Sri Lanka and Australia via Singapore and Kuala Lumpur with its codeshare partners, Qantas and Malaysia Airlines.

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Aitken Spence to introduce Heritance brand to Maldives

Sri Lanka’s Aitken Spence Hotels and Resorts is to introduce its Heritance brand to the Maldives with the opening of Heritance Aarah next year, according to Maldivian news website Maldivian Insider.

In 2015, Aitken Spence acquired the uninhabited island of Aarah in the northern Raa atoll for US$ 50 million to develop it as a five-star resort. Accessible by a scenic 40-minute seaplane flight from the main Velana International Airport, Heritance Aarah will offer 157 villas and suites separated by tropical vegetation for privacy, and designed and built with a fusion of indigenous Maldivian and modern architecture.

The accommodation options include 51 beach villas, 10 family beach villas, 10 pool beach villas, four family pool beach villas, 56 water villas, 25 luxury water villas and a presidential water suite.

Aitken Spence, which manages over 24 hotels in Sri Lanka, India, Oman and the Maldives, runs six properties in the Maldives under its Adaaran brand— Adaaran Select Meedhupparu, Adaaran Club Rannalhi, Adaaran Prestige Vadoo, Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi, Adaaran Prestige Water Villas and Adaaran Prestige Ocean Villas.

Along with Aarah, Aitken Spence acquired lease rights of another uninhabited island, Raafushi in the northern Noonu atoll. The company, however, is yet to disclose its development plans for the island. Four Heritance branded hotels are in operation across Sri Lanka, including Heritance Kandalma, Heritance Tea Factory, Heritance Negombo, Heritance Ayurveda and Heritance Ahungalla.

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China’s One Belt initiative to increase tourist arrivals to the region

Minister of Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga presenting a token to PATA Chairman Andrew Jones. Picture by Susantha Wijegunasekera.  See page ii

Chinese arrivals will be Sri Lanka’s strongest inbound market over taking India in the future, said Chairman, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Andrew Jones.

Speaking at the PATA conference, Jetwing Blue Hotel in Negombo, he said that overall Sri Lanka arrivals too would increase by 10.4 percent annually up to 2021. He said that one of the biggest problems facing the industry in the future would be to find young tourism professionals.

“The Asia Pacific Region too would attract higher number of arrivals for the 2017-2021 periods and the region would pass the 3.7 million arrival mark by 2021,” said Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Taleb Rifai. “We expect 5 billion people to travel out by 2030,” The Secretary-General envisaged.

He said that the proposed One Belt initiative mooted by China would also help to increased tourist arrivals in the region. Rifai said however that attracting 4.5 million tourist arrivals by 2020 by Sri Lanka Tourism may be a tall order.

The Secretary-General said that today’s world was changing to digital technology and destination marketing tools should be focused in that direction. “Today you don’t need huge budgets for marketing. What you need today is innovative marketing tools powered by technology,” he added.

Minister of Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga said that tourism was the quickest sector to recover after ending the war and today it’s the third highest foreign exchange earner of Sri Lanka.

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Malaysia to peg US$ 300 mn in Lanka’s leisure sector

 The Malaysian government and the private sector were looking at investing nearly US$ 300 million on theme parks and other leisure sectors.

In addition Malaysian investors were also keen to invest in oil, gas and energy sectors in Sri Lanka, said Malaysian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Wan Zaidi Wan Abdullah at the Malaysian High Commission yesterday.

“We are encouraging Malaysian companies to engage in projects in Sri Lanka like the construction of power stations and construction and management of gas distribution terminals in the island. We are also looking at Hambantota for investment opportunities,” he said.

“Malaysian investments to other countries in 2016 was around US$ 115 billion. In addition Malaysian investments within Malaysia reached US$ 2 billion last year. We are hoping that part of this investment could be channeled to Sri Lanka in the future. We are looking at venturing not only into tourism sector businesses but leisure and theme parks and the discussions are undergoing now about the projects,” he said.

“I am trying my best to promote businesses between the two countries and encourage the advent of Malaysian commercial and residential integrated government development projects to Sri Lanka. My target is for the next few years to get more foreign direct investment from Malaysia to Sri Lanka.

The areas that we are looking at are telecommunication, construction, infrastructure, education and tourism. Now we are working hard to venture into healthcare and Malaysia’s expertise in running private healthcare service, supply of medical equipment and technical assistant to medical staff would be beneficial to Sri Lanka,” he said.

“We are working closely with the Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce and the exports are growing between the two countries and we are planning to open another 2,000 job opportunities to Sri Lankan workers this year in addition to the 6,000 Sri Lankan workforce in Malaysia,” he added.

The Malaysian High Commissioner added that bilateral relations with Sri Lanka were very cordial and friendly and the Malaysian Prime Minister was scheduled to visit Sri Lanka end of the year and with his visit they were planning to venture into various economic and other operations that collaborated with Sri Lankan effectively.

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Sri Lanka a land of respect says UNWTO Chief

  • Highlights importance of technology for secure and seamless travel
  • Says world is determined with travel and digital revolution 
  • Urges stakeholders to build responsible, committed tourism sector for economic prosperity, social inclusion, peace

IN-2By Charumini de Silva

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai last week termed Sri Lanka a land of visit, respect and enjoy, while commending its outstanding performance in 2016 with over two million tourist arrivals.

In his remarks at the PATA Annual Summit 2017 at Jetwing Beach, Negombo, Dr. Rifai spoke on the ‘wonders’ of Sri Lanka as a destination that he has come to love adding, “People travel to places they respect culture, people, history and Sri Lanka is such a destination.”

Noting that 2016 was a great year for Sri Lanka he said the country surpassed two million tourist arrivals for the first time in its history while posting a growth of 14%.

He said this year’s PATA Summit theme ‘Disruption. Innovation. Transformation: The Future of Tourism’ is extremely timely given the fact that the world is determined with two main revolutions of travel and digitalisation.

“This is the age of travel with millions exploring and crossing borders. We need to use technology to develop better and new experiences, along with same, secure and seamless travel,” he said.

According to him over 1.2 billion people crossed borders and 2016 in general was indeed a great year of travel and tourism.

UNWTO forecasts, international travel will reach two billion travellers from the current 1.2 billion in the next 15 years. These two billion travellers will head to destinations that create market share by strategically investing in sustainable tourism.

Hinting that this is likely to be his last official assignment as he steps down as Secretary General, Dr. Rifai said: “The United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development making this a unique opportunity to build a more responsible and committed tourism sector that can capitalise its immense potential in terms of economic prosperity, social inclusion, peace and understanding, cultural and environmental preservation.”

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