Archive for July, 2017

Qatar to boost Colombo service to four daily non-stop flights

Qatar Airways has announced it will introduce a fourth daily non-stop service from Doha to Colombo from 1 August 2017.

In addition two of the four daily flights will be serviced by the B777300ER aircraft to accommodate the increased travel demand to and from Sri Lanka.The increased frequency and aircraft upgauge will boost overall capacity to and from Colombo by 3,136 seats weekly, a 20 percent increase from current weekly capacity.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said: “We are delighted to be able to cater to the buoyant leisure and business travel demand by increasing our frequency and capacity to Colombo, the gateway to Sri Lanka and one of the most vibrant cities in South Asia. Besides our acclaimed inflight service, our passengers can now also enjoy our modern B777 aircraft when they travel with us on our non-stop service to Doha and onward to destinations in Europe, Americas and the Middle East. The additional frequency will provide passengers with even greater flexibility and convenience when planning their next trip with Qatar Airways.”

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga said: “Tourism is expected to be one of Sri Lanka’s major growth engines as we seek to further strengthen our economy. Sri Lanka, Asia’s leading destination for 2017, has a wealth of places waiting for travellers to discover. With the support of major carriers like Qatar Airways which has invested additional capacity, we are confident that Sri Lanka can achieve the target of 2.5 million tourists this year.”

The Qatar Airways Boeing 777300ER features 24 Business Class seats and 388 seats in Economy Class. Besides a spacious environment throughout the entire aircraft, passengers across both cabins can enjoy up to 3,000 entertainment options throughout their journey with Qatar Airways extensive Oryx One collections.

Business Class passengers can relax in their comfortable, fully-flat beds with 78 inches of seat pitch. The on-demand à la carte menu service, luxurious Bric’s amenity kits coupled with Qatar Airways cabin crew’s renowned Arabian hospitality will ensure passengers arrive at their destination feeling refreshed and energised.

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Sri Lanka Shines at Indian Travel Mart

01Destination Sri Lanka was the cynosure of all eyes at the Indian International Travel Mart which took place in Bangalore last week. While Sri Lanka was singled out as the shining star at the event by the event organisers, the country also bagged two important awards – ‘MICE Destination of the Year’ and ‘Best Decorated International Pavilion’ at the mega event. The Sri Lanka delegation was led by Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga who was honored to have been invited as chief guest at the inauguration as well as the awards ceremony.

The Indian International Travel Mart is a leading platform for the sub-continent region to showcase both existing as well as new products to the International Travel community and is a highly anticipated event among the Indian travel trade. The event is of special significance for Sri Lanka as India is now the number one tourism source market for the country.

This year’s Indian International Travel Mart was of special significance as it was the 99th edition of the event. Sri Lanka Tourism was noted for its active participation with an attractively designed ‘Sri Lanka Pavilion’  that effectively communicated the diversity on offer in the country while also highlighting its position as one of the most sought after travel destinations in the world.

Meanwhile Minister Amaratunga held several important meetings with the Indian tourism trade on the sidelines of the travel mart.

During a meeting with the South India Global Tour Operators Association (SIGTOA) the Minister extended an invitation to the President of the Association, K.V. Kishore to hold their Annual Conference in Sri Lanka. Having accepted the invitation SIGTOA is now planning to hold the conference in Colombo in the second week of September this year.

Minister Amaratunga also met the Chairman, Travel Agents Association of India (Karnataka Chapter), M.S. Raghavan and GM, Thomas Cook India Ltd, Tanveer Ahmed, where the main topic of discussion was positioning Sri Lanka as the destination of first choice for Indian tourists.

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Sri Lanka keen to extend India’s Ramayana circuit

01Sri Lanka is preparing to be part of the ambitious Ramayana circuit India is planning for tourists. The Indian government is identifying places connected with the Ramayana, while Sri Lanka has already identified 71 locations across the island nation for inclusion in the circuit.

The Ramayana describes how Sita, Rama’s wife, is kidnapped by Ravana and taken away to Sri Lanka. Hanuman then launches a grand operation, building a stone bridge across the sea, to rescue her.

Sri Lankan has appointed a committee to identify more places, Minister of Tourism Development John A.E. Amaratunga told DH.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the 99th edition of the India International Travel Mart, organised by Sphere Travelmedia and Exhibition, which concluded on Sunday.

Hallowed spots

Amaratunga said his government had entered into an agreement with the Indian government to create a full circuit.

“We are closely working with various Indian state governments to link all places. The two countries share a 5,000-year-old relationship,” he said.

Excavation is on for more places described in the Ramayana. “We aim to complete the entire circuit by the end of this year. Just like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we look at Sri Lanka and all south Indian states as one unique unit, housing the maximum Ramayana spots,” he said.

The two governments are also working closely on the Buddhist circuit. Not many know that Buddha visited Sri Lanka three times. The spots he visited are not so well known either, said V Krishnamoorthy, Deputy High Commissioner, Sri Lanka. He said Sita stayed at Sita Vyasa in Sri Lanka, and was taken to Ussangoda.

More than 3.20 lakh tourists from south India visited Sri Lanka last year and a similar number of Sri Lankans visited India, he said.

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Wilpattu to be closed during low visitor months

„Zoning restrictions for visitors to be enforced

The sustainable Development and Wildlife Ministry has decided to close the Wilpattu National Park to visitors during the low season months of May and to strictly enforce zoning restrictions whereby tourists and other visitors will be allowed to only visit designated zones in the park.wilpattu National Park has been severely affected by the prevailing drought in the northern and central region of Sri Lanka, according to a media statement by the Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Ministry, “As a result of the drought, almost all of the waterholes in the park have gone dry causing great suffering to the animals inhabiting the park area,” the statement said.

The critical situation and urgently required relief measures were the main topics of a recent discussion among Wildlife and Tourism ministers, officials of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and the representatives of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO).

During the meeting, SLAITO has volunteered to fill up the dried up waterholes by transporting water in large bowsers in order to provide relief to the animals. SLAITO was represented by its Ex-co Members Nalin Jayasundera, Nishad Wijetunga and Anuruddha Bandara.

It was revealed that 30 water bowsers could fill up the 8 water holes for a week. SLAITO agreed to facilitate the transportation of water by bowsers to these waterholes on an urgent basis.

Sustainable Development and Wildlife Minister Jayawickrema Perera welcomed the move and directed the Director General of Wildife to make necessary arrangements to expedite the process.

Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga called for a continuing dialogue among the parties so as to ensure proper coordination of the relief efforts.

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Sri Lanka’s first Marriott Resort and Spa opens at Weligama Bay

IN-2Sri Lanka’s latest five star Marriott Resort and Spa has opened for guests in Weligama Bay.

The 198-bedroom resort, with a gross built up area of 350,000 square feet, is built by Weligama Hotel Properties Ltd., a subsidiary of East West Properties Plc controlled by business tycoon Nahil Wijesuriya.

Marriott Hotels & Resorts is Marriott International’s flagship brand of full-service hotels and resorts. It has 19 hotel brands across 78 countries and over 4,000 destinations. The brands include the Ritz Carlton, St. Regis, JW Marriott, BULGARI, Le Meridien, W Hotels, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points and Renaissance.

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Lanka’s first all-suite hotel to come up in Panadura

White Heaven Hotel Panadura along with a Chinese partner would build Sri Lanka’s first all-suite 100 room hotel in Panadura. Managing Director, White Heaven Hotel, Sunil Silva told ‘Daily News Business’ that he has already acquired a one and a half acre land bordering the sea and river in Panadura for this project. “We will start construction by next February and the project would be completed in 18 months,”he said.

The Chinese investor from Beijing is already involved in the real estate and construction business for the past 19 years in China having built and managed over 12 sky scrapers.

“This is the first time the company is venturing overseas,”he said. Silva was also a partner and an investor with China’s J. J. Construction for Sri Lanka’s first purpose built Chinese five star hotel, Jie Jie Beach which opened in Panadura early this year. The project is a US$ 30 million investment and hotel is now managed by the Jetwing Group.

Silva said that they invest around Rs 800 million for this project which would be a BOI approved venture.

“The unique feature of this hotel too would be that modern building techniques by Chinese construction team were used to build the hotel. This the reason we would be able to complete the project in eighteen months.

As we are using engineer’s architects and several workers from China construction cost too would be reduced by nearly 25%.” He also said that in this hotel too they will have 90% power generated from solar and it would be given to a local or foreign hotel operator to manage once it’s being constructed.

“We will have 100 rooms with each room having their own Jacqui, kitchen and many other facilities.”

He said that they are leaving almost nine months in advance until March to obtain all necessary approvals which was the main delay for their first JV project, Jie Jie Beach.

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No travel, trade restrictions on Sri Lanka: WHO

According to information in the website, the statistics of the dengue outbreak is 4.3 fold higher than the average number of cases during the period between 2010 and 2016.

The monthly number of cases exceeds the mean plus three standard deviations for each of the past six months.

Preliminary laboratory results have identified dengue virus stereotype 2 (DENV-2) as the circulating strain in the outbreak. Although all four DENV have been co-circulating in Sri Lanka for over 30 years, DENV-2 has been infrequently detected since 2009, the WHO website said.

Meanwhile, the Epidemiology Unit sources said 97,125 dengue patients had been reported from the country by July 19. The highest number of dengue cases, 41,054 had been reported from the Western Province.

About 21,282 dengue cases had been reported from the Colombo district. The second highest number, 14, 386 had been reported from the Gampaha district. About 5,976 dengue patients had been reported from the Ratnapura district, the sources said.

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