Archive for June, 2017

Aitken Spence Travels celebrates four decades of excellence

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Aitken Spence Travels, Sri Lanka’s largest inbound tourism company, marks its 40th anniversary this week.

The company, a joint venture between leading conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC and TUI Group, the world’s number one integrated tourism company.  Aitken Spence was recognized as the leading destination management company in Sri Lanka at the World Travel Awards (WTA) 2017 held this month. The WTA was held for the 24th time and show cases the best in class across the travel spectrum.

This award is the latest accomplishment of Aitken Spence Travels who have won the Presidential Award for the ‘Best Destination Management Company & Professional Conference Organizer’ for three consecutive years and has entered the Hall of Fame as well as won a PATA Gold for its Most Innovative Excursion.  The company handled 153,000 happy visitors to Sri Lanka during its last financial year.

Aitken Spence Travels is active in diverse markets, which have enabled them to establish their number one position in Sri Lanka apart from mainstream tour operations, excursions, cruises, nature and adventure, sports, MICE, online and luxury segments.
The company’s outbound travel division Aitken Spence Holidays provides holiday packages while representing leading brands such as Tradewinds, Carlson Wagonlit, Rail Europe, Guangdong and Emirates Holidays.

“Aitken Spence Travels has achieved many accomplishments over the last four decades in our journey towards becoming the leading DMC in Sri Lanka. Sustaining this success through a changing tourism industry has been a challenge.

“However, we as an organization have been consistent through the energy that drives us with our innovative spirit and fearlessness in taking calculated risks to enter new markets or segments to charter our own course”, Aitken Spence Travels Managing Director Nalin Jayasundera said.

“Our committed staff led by our highly experienced management team must be recognized for their dedication and professionalism, and I truly believe we have the winning combination to continue to successfully drive the industry,” he added.

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Emirates to fly Airbus A380 to Colombo

For the first time in Sri Lanka’s aviation history, Emirates will launch its double-deck Airbus A380 aircraft on flights to Colombo commencing August 14.

An official from Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation said this service would be a once-a-week flight and it would operate with a stopover in a destination in the Far East. The Airbus A380 flies to Sri Lanka subsequent to the airport runway expansion concluded last April.

The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by European manufacturer Airbus.

It is the world’s largest passenger airliner and the airports at which it operates have upgraded facilities to accommodate it.

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SLTDA grades eating places in Colombo under its ‘Tourist Friendly Eating Places’ scheme

Untitled-2Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga  addressing the gathering .From left:  Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Malraj B.Kiriealla, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs  Shirani Weerakoone , Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Paddy Withana, SLTBP Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara, and  SLITHM Chairman Sunil Dissanayake -Pix by Indraratne Balasuriya.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLDA), in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Colombo Municipal Council has launched a project to encourage the upgrading of food safety, hygiene and service of eating places supplying food for foreign and local tourists.

The project is named as “Certification Scheme for Tourist Friendly Eating Places”. SLTDA is planning to expand this project, initially launched within Colombo Municipality limits but aims to cover suburbs of Colombo soon. Under the second phase of the project, eating places in Kandy and Galle will be certified.

Starting on early May 2017, SLTDA began inspection visits to eating places in Colombo. Based upon the inspection scores, 25 eating places in Colombo Municipal Council area were selected for the certification. The two types of certification are granted in these places with ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades. The Certification awarding ceremony was held on 27th June, 2017 at 2.00 p.m. at Monara Restaurant, Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management under the patronage of Hon. Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, John A.E. Amaratunga.

Minister Amaratunga has consistently highlighted the need for certification and standardization of tourism related services. “If we are to sustain the growth of our tourism industry, it is extremely important that we offer quality food and beverage services for tourists. SLTDA’s currently ongoing project of certifying Tourist Friendly Eating Places is a step in the right direction in this regard. While some Sri Lankan restaurants are among the best in the world having won international recognition, there is the other end of the spectrum which is not up to the mark. We have to raise the standards of these places,” said Minister Amaratunga.

“Sri Lanka Tourism industry has progressed dramatically over five decades to receive an all-time high hit of 2 million annual tourist arrivals at the end of the year 2016. As the Island’s catalyst in Tourism, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority continuously drives to ensure the satisfaction of tourists with quality service.”, said Mr. Paddy Withana, Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

“Our objective is to make sure that tourists enjoy remarkable experiences during their stay in Sri Lanka. Colombo, being the Island’s capital city is one of famous destinations among both foreign and local tourists, we need dynamic strategies to improve the standards and quality on the services that are offered to tourists. The project also aims to cover popular eating places in Kandy and Galel in near future. By participating in this project, the relevant eating places will get the advantage of supplying clean, hygienically prepared, tasty food and also will obtain more recognition in order to create more demand, Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Mr. Malraj B.Kiriealla sated.

Source :–Tourist-Friendly-Eating-Places–scheme

Eco Team unveils ‘Ahas Pokuna’


  • Sri Lanka’s first, all-suite, luxury, private bush walks camp

Diving into the history of the hill capital of Sri Lanka and the times when the Kandyan Kingdom was in uproar over the treaty signed with the British in 1815 and the subsequent breach of contract by the colonial masters, one finds the story of a family who had to withdraw to the jungles in the intermediate zone to avoid a complete massacre. With them were several loyalists and their families who created a new settlement and lived in harmony with the nature that surrounded them.

It is in this vicinity that Anuruddha Bandara; a pioneer in many tourism innovations and a fourth generation rebel descendent, created Sri Lanka’s first, all-suite, luxury, private bush walks camp, Ahas Pokuna. A lake that is fed entirely by rain waters is credited for the name of the locality, ‘Ahas’ being sky and ‘Pokuna’ being lake in the Sinhalese language. On the shores of this waterway is a wilderness retreat that allows guests to become one with nature and enjoy a tranquil holiday experience like no other.

Situated within a 2,300 hectare nature reserve, Ahas Pokuna is a 30 acre private reserve and houses three luxury suite tents complete with an arrival deck, sleeping tent, luggage and powder   lounge, a fully-fledged bathroom tent that has hot and cold water, romantic star bed/day bed for relaxation or sleep during the day or night, and the first-ever bush bath tub in Sri Lanka. All of this overlooks the grassland in the 1,000 square metres of private space protected by an elephant fence that is yours to enjoy during your stay. Ahas Pokuna is the only property in Sri Lanka that has a private star bed for each accommodation unit, making it one of the most ruggedly romantic locations to stay at.

For meals, guests need to take a short walk to the dining tent for contemporary, improvised Sri Lankan dishes that are prepared in true village style using local produce. The camp also offers outdoor dining, a highlight of wilderness living, to the light of a central campfire, accompanied by the sounds of the night. Before dinner, guests sit around the campfire with a bottle of wine and talk to the naturalists about the day’s walks or their experiences in the wild.

And what an experience it is. The camp itself can only be reached 30-minutes by foot. To ensure that guests have a true wilderness experience, the Eco Team has put together bush walks and treks that focus on wildlife that are rampant in the area.  There are many endemic and migratory birds as well. All “walks” are accompanied by experienced trekkers who know the forest paths and the best places to spot wildlife in their natural habitat. For those who dare to venture out at night, ‘night walks’ are customisable for fascinating views of the animals who come to quench their thirst at the waterhole under the cover of darkness.

Each of the camps has ample space for three persons, and the property has three such units for the moment keeping it intimate and simple. The limited accommodation also ensures maximum privacy and serenity for an undisturbed getaway. To truly experience the tranquillity of the great outdoors and bask in all that nature has to offer, Ahas Pokuna also arranges for yoga and massage sessions conducted by highly-skilled trainers and Ayurvedic treatment specialists. Established in December 2016, the bush-walks camp is another first by Eco Team who also pioneered tented safari to Sri Lanka in 1998, and introduced the first mobile hotel and first carbon neutral camp in Sri Lanka.

Source :–Ahas-Pokuna-

Govt. invites bids for ferry transport system in Colombo

The Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (SLLRDC), under the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, has called for tenders for the first leg of the proposed ferry transport system in Colombo.

The project will be implemented as a public-private partnership.

As detailed in the 2016 Megapolis transport master plan, several of Colombo’s inland waterways will be utilized for passenger ferries whereby commuters and recreational users may travel across various parts of Colombo, avoiding the traffic and enjoying the scenic views.

The first phase will be a service from Wellawatte to Battaramulla.

A ferry service from Colombo Fort to Union Place in the Beira Lake, as well as from Mattakkuliya to Hanwella, along the Kelani River, is also in the pipeline, as are potential other routes such as the Hamilton Canal towards Negombo.

The tender process—which is open to both international and local investors—is being supported by PPP advisors from the Netherlands government, under a government-togovernment technical assistance initiative.

SLLRDC will be the lead agency for the project.

The service along the Wellawatte-battaramulla canal is expected to be operational in early 2018, and the Beira Lake ferry to be operational within the year as well.


The secrets of Zinc Journey Sigiriya uncovered!

01Holding within her the mysteries and lore of centuries past, where dancing damsels, pools in the sky, structural wonders and resonating poetry spoke of grandeur never experienced before, the mammoth red hued colossus rises high from surrounding jungle against the tropical blue sky, every inch the queen of her environ.

This is Sigiriya, believed to have been formed from magma of an extinct volcano, the Lion Rock sitting 370 meters above sea level and home to the ingeniously crafty parricidal self-proclaimed King Kasyapa, whose eye for beauty is as synonymous as his eye for engineering.

It is within this esoteric beauty that Zinc Journey Sigiriya gazes up at the regal magnificence of a rock that remains integral to the history of this boutique property, speaking of tales past and journeys trod, ever since the British decided that this location would be their ideal home away from home.

Zinc Journey Sigiriya epitomises the artful blend of Sri Lankan hospitality with the elegance of colonial convention. It is an ideal combination that articulates the history of the Sigiriya Rest House as was its genesis and the contemporary persona gained from an international hospitality chain, whose brand philosophy for Zinc Journey is all about a ‘unique experience’. That unique experience begins no sooner a Sri Lankan welcome is bestowed upon you; a warm smile and hands clasped with ‘Ayubowan’ wishing you long life.

Enter the spacious lobby, minimalist in décor but elaborate in tasteful detail. Harboured almost secretively is a sprawling expanse of green where birds and bees regale stories as a gastronomic journey of multi-course cuisine flavoured for East or West is served with aplomb. This is where the colonialists’ love for good food and wine is well ingrained, carried forward centuries later in the very spot they may have played cards, smoked their cigars and enjoyed a hearty meal of luscious appetisers, delightful entrées, robust mains and a delectable dessert accompanied with a glass of the best. This is a canvas that Zinc Journey Sigiriya’s team of experienced chefs and highly-trained service cohort paint with style and flavour.

The comfort of the rooms knows no bounds. Delightfully cosy, each of these 20 rooms is each designed to relish the bygone architectural facet of a Sri Lankan home – the verandah, while inside, it’s luxury defined. Air-conditioned of course, the king sized beds with its Egyptian cotton bedding and linen, wall mounted LED TV and a well-appointed bathroom that expresses details of indulgence with its handcrafted toiletries reflects the allure that Zinc Journey boutique properties have garnered around the world.

But it is the magnetic charisma of that beautiful monolith that gives Zinc Journey Sigiriya the ultimate edge. From nearly everywhere in the property, the Sigiriya Rock can be seen in all its splendour. And hence it is no surprise that way before Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948 from the British, colonialists scouted this beautiful little island nation in a quest for the most scenic locales in which to rest their weary heads on their travels across the length and breadth of the country.

These locations, popularly known as ‘Rest Houses’ were ideally not only to give travellers some respite but also to ‘rest the horses’ and it could be reasoned that it was ‘rest horse’ that eventually became ‘rest house’. Rest houses soon became ingrained within the hospitality culture of the country, used by the elite and later by the higher echelon of the public sector, where travel was compulsory and comfort imperative. One could surmise that the rest house culture is surely the genesis of the buoyant hospitality industry that now makes Sri Lanka one of the hottest destinations in the world.

At Zinc Journey Sigiriya, it’s the mystery of that majestic rock that yet holds the guest in awe. Steeped in history that speaks from the beginning of civilisation, the secrets held within the rock and the vestiges of the grand palace which was the haven of one of the most cruel yet clever ‘kings’ in the country, yet remains enigmatic. Some of his actions are recorded while others are shrouded in folklore as is the tale that Kasyapa, the son of King Dhatusena’s consort, drove away a group of hermits who had made the rock their home since the 3rd century BC.

But history does record that the young King may have had a touch of insanity stemming from fear, a hunger for power and a weakness of the flesh (he’s believed to have had 500 wives and concubines). That madness for power led Kasyapa to wall up his father to die a slow and painful death and seize the throne which belonged rightfully to his brother, Moggallana, who fled to India but later returned.

It is in fear for his life that Kasyapa ran to the monastery and decided that this rocky plateau would protect him. An ensuing battle saw Kasyapa, abandoned by his armies, commit suicide, though not before leaving an engineering and artistic legacy of extensive network of fortifications, vast landscaped gardens, yet functioning ponds, canals and fountains and the rock itself from which was hewed a colossal stone lion as the palace gateway which gave the rock its name, Sihagri, later called Sigiriya, with its canvas of world famous frescoes and 8th century poetry inscribed mirror wall.

It is this legacy of an ancient king, colonial habits, travellers’ tales and tangible wonderment that is well-entwined into the life and times of Zinc Journey Sigiriya. Whether you are adventurous, spirited, enthusiastic, relaxed, eco-oriented, a gastronomic connoisseur or avid historian, this boutique property is about authenticity, genuine hospitality and unique experiences. That’s the Zinc Journey ethos – one to be lived and to be experienced.

Zinc Journey Sigiriya is a Joint Venture of Ceylon Hotels Corporation and C G Hotels and Resorts.03

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Sri Lanka-Nepal discuss direct flights between Colombo and Kathmandu



A meeting between Ambassador of Nepal to Sri Lanka Professor Bishwambher Pyakuryal and Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

Attention was drawn to widen diplomatic ties between the two countries during this meeting. Discussions were also focused on reintroducing direct flights between Colombo and Kathmandu.

Foreign Minister Karunanayake and Ambassador Bishwambher further discussed about widening commercial activities between the two countries and way and means to strengthen the exchange of cultural programs.

The Ambassador of Nepal who congratulated Karunanayake on his new appointment stated that his country would extend assistance for the future development of Sri Lanka.

In responding to the Nepali Ambassador, Karunanayake stated Sri Lanka always praises the diplomatic cooperation extended by Nepal Government to Sri Lanka.

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