Archive for August, 2017

Qatar Airways adds fifth daily to Colombo from September 1

Qatar Airways continues to demonstrate strong global growth with the announcement of new flights to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The ‘Airline of the Year’ has responded to continued robust demand from passengers by increasing its Colombo service from four to five flights per day from September 1, just one month after the last frequency increase.

Its Dhaka service will increase from two to three flights per day, also effective from September 1.

The additional non-stop, daily services to and from Colombo and Dhaka will each be serviced by Qatar Airways modern A320s, adding more than 1,000 seats to the current weekly capacity to and from both exciting destinations.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker said: “We are again delighted to be able to cater to business and leisure growth in both of these vibrant gateway cities. When passengers travel with us on our non-stop service to Doha and onward to destinations in Europe, Americas and the Middle East, these additional frequencies will provide even greater flexibility, award-winning service and convenience that they can only experience with Qatar Airways.

“The increased capacity on the Dhaka and Colombo routes represents a major commitment by Qatar Airways to enhance our offering to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. We have demonstrated our long-term commitment to both countries that has been rewarded with the loyalty of many thousands of passengers per month who choose to fly with us. We look forward to welcoming even more passengers on our flights.”

The Qatar Airways Airbus A320 features 12 Business Class seats and 132 seats in Economy Class. Besides a spacious environment throughout the entire aircraft, passengers across both cabins can enjoy complimentary inflight meals. Those with special dietary requirements need only contact Qatar Airways before their flight to make their selection from our wide range of special meal types, available upon request.

Business Class passengers can relax in their comfortable reclining beds and enjoy the on-demand à la carte menu service and luxurious Bric’s amenity kits. These, coupled with Qatar Airways cabin crew’s renowned Arabian hospitality, will ensure passengers arrive at their destination feeling refreshed and energised.

Leisure and business travellers can also take advantage of the exceptional value available to them through Qatar Airways Holidays, where there are value-priced hotels, destination-specific tours and holiday packages available to suit every taste, in both these beautiful countries.

Qatar Airways has received a number of accolades this year, including Airline of the Year by the prestigious 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards, held at the Paris Air Show. This is the fourth time that Qatar Airways has been given this global recognition.



Vietnam’s TV crew to produce documentary on Lankan tourism

Sri Lanka Tourism, in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Embassy in Vietnam, arranged a familiarization tour for a TV crew of Nhan Dan (National TV) recently, to create awareness and promote Sri Lanka as a popular destination among the Vietnamese travellers.

Media crew with President Maithripala Sirisena and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Managing Director Sutheash BalasubramaniamSince both countries have their equal share of religious and cultural heritage, this created an opportunity for the Vietnamese media crew to get an informative and interesting experience to share with their audience back home.

The crew consisted of three members: Nguyen Hong Quan, Cameraman, Nguyen Thi Thun Hang, Reporter and Nguyen Hon Mai, Editor.

Nhan Dan TV is the main national TV in Vietnam, which is linked with the Nhan Dan newspaper, which has the highest readership in the country.

One of the main purposes of the press trip was to cover the Kandy Esala Perahera, which is a world famous cultural pageant sacred to all Buddhists around the world and highlights Sri Lanka’s importance as a Theravada Buddhist country. The media crew visited the historic sites of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. Visiting these cities, they had the privilege of covering Ruwanwelisaya, Dambulla cave temple, rock fortress of Sigiriya, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, a tea factory and a plantation, not missing a cup of Pure Ceylon Tea and afterwards visiting the Haggala Botanical Gardens.

The TV crew also had an opportunity to interview President Maithripala Sirisena. Sponsored by Sri Lanka Tourism, the crew managed to capture the attention of a large Sri Lankan audience through the interview.

Tourist arrivals from Vietnam have seen a 17 percent increase YOY, though the arrival number is not significantly high. Arranging media trips of this nature will increase the arrivals in the future, specifically in countries which share similar cultural and historical values as Sri Lanka.

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Mercedes-Benz VITO premium vans to strengthen tourism industry

cvxcvvcvcxgbbThe Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle team of Diesel & Motor Engineering PLC (DIMO) recently handed over the keys to a fleet of three premium Mercedes-Benz VITO vans purchased by the management of Aitken Spence Travels.

Considering the rapid development and increasing demand in tourist activity in the country, super luxury and comfort transportation for foreign visitors has been a developing requirement, thus the Mercedes-Benz Vito is now a preferred choice in the industry.

Aitken Spence Travels is the leading destination management company in Sri Lanka which served over 153,000 foreign visitors in the last financial year. The company is partnered by TUI, the world’s largest tourism integrated company and commands market leadership in Sri Lanka.

Their customers who travel from the four corners of the world are guaranteed of safety, comfort and superior service when travelling with Aitken Spence Travels. Thus, it is believed that the new additions to its fleet will enhance the service quality offered by Aitken Spence Travels.

Commenting on this handover ceremony, Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles Business Unit Manager Shamal Fernando said: “Mercedes-Benz is synonymous with luxury, comfort and safety. Therefore, we believe the VITO Vans being used in the tourism and travel sector would not only enhance the business of Aitken Spence Travels but will also uplift the profile of customers and further ensure customers to reach their destinations in a safe, comfortable and luxurious manner. Moreover, the Vito Vans run on low running costs which minimize the cost of maintenance thereby offering interested customers to experience the vehicle’s fullest potential. Furthermore, the Vito Vans are offered with a first year maintenance completely free with 15,000km servicing intervals, the Vito is the perfect blend for the tourism sector for best return on investment. Evolving into the tourism sector is a testament that large scale businesses are acquiring the services of Mercedes-Benz to further their business ideals. We believe that this trend will continue as safety, comfort and luxury are a key element that drives our brand.”

The Mercedes-Benz VITO, a lavish brand in itself also comes with a 24 hour road side assistance service provided by DIMO with a 16KM’s per liter on fuel usage with first year vehicle services completely free.

DIMO offers their customers to gain access to world-class products and services across the country that has earned an outstanding reputation. By being the authorised dealer of Mercedes-Benz in Sri Lanka for over 78 years, DIMO further provides its customers with the best sales and after sales facilities.

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Siddhalepa Group opens second hotel project Anarva with Rs.1.8 bn investment

The second hotel project of Siddhalepa Group, the Siddhalepa Anarva in Mount Lavinia built with an investment of Rs. 1.8 billion was opened to guests last week.

It consists of seven floors with 98 rooms plus the spa which will be open for in-house as well outside guests.

The spa consists of six rooms with a herbal room, steam room, dedicated to different Ayurvedic treatments. In addition to that it also has a roof-top swimming pool facing the Mount Lavinia beach.

“The purpose to open this was to improve medical tourism in Sri Lanka, extending our strength in line with the country’s objective to be a medical tourism hub,” Siddhalepa Ayurveda Resorts and Spas Senior Marketing Manager Ushan Edirisinghe told Mirror Business.

He said that their target market will be medium and up market in order to attract more revenue to the country.

“When it comes to medical tourism a lot of budget people come to Sri Lanka. We are not targeting the budget people, it won’t give much revenue to the country, we are targeting medium and up market people,” he said.

This hotel comes after 18 years of their first hotel, which is Wadduwa health resort built in 1999. How Anarva differs from its first project according to him is the first hotel is completely dedicated to Ayurvedic treatment where people have to reside their for 7-21 days for treatments, whereas the new hotel would cater to people who come to the city for different purposes and they can get their treatments while being in the city.

Another specialty of their service is they use all homegrown products, making it indigenous. What makes their service more special is their capability to provide not only relaxation but also medical treatments making Sri Lankan Ayurveda unique.

The group also has a Siddhalepa hospital in Templer’s Road Mount Lavinia. In addition to that they have their spa options in Wijerama Road, Colombo – 7, as well as one in Shangri-la Hambantota. Altogether they have five projects in Sri Lanka, Edirisinghe noted.

Already having expanded their spa resort options to international markets such as Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, he said that they have plans to further expand to different markets.

The Siddhalepa Group is founded on the ancient practice of Ayurveda in Sri Lanka, a family heritage of over 200 years and there generations.

Established in 1979 by Dr. Victor Hettigoda, the group is a pioneer in the industry and one of the largest of its kind, manufacturing a range of over 400 medicinal oils, balms, elixirs, herbal cosmetics and teas along with other medicines for domestic and export markets.

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Boost for Eastern Province tourism

dfcvxUntitled-1Eastern Province Chief Minister Nazeer Ahamed has initiated several development programs benefiting the tourism sector in the Batticaloa district.

The first project for the tourism sector was inaugurated under the Eastern Province, Tourism Bureau. Tourism and Christian Affairs Minister John Amarathunga has allocated Rs. 200 million from his ministry for two projects for Eastern Province – Integrated Tourism Trade and Information Centre and Food Court and Rest House at Arayampathi, and Eravur areas.

This project was inaugurated and construction work commenced by Minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs Johan Amarathunga, on 21 August at Eravur and Aryampathi.Eastern Province Chief Minister Nazeer Ahamed, City Planning and Water Supply Minister Rauff Hakeem Deputy Minister of Health Faizal Cassim, Eastern Province Tourism Bureau Chairman Chandra Mohoti, Vice Chairman Tourism Sarjoon Abobuker, Eastern Provincial Minister of Health M. Nazeer and other officials participated. Pix by Ashraff A. Samad


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Five-star food fiesta begins at Pettah floating market

0103An international three-day food fiesta has begun at the Pettah floating market.

The food fiesta is held according to a concept of the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha, in order to promote the floating market. The Ministry of Tourism, Urban Development Authority, and the Association for Tourist Hotel Owners also support to make this event a success.

The general public will have the chance to enjoy five-star quality meals for an affordable price. Middle class community in Colombo can enjoy their weekends in this attractive place. There will be a lot of stalls such as for textile, ornaments, handcrafts and food.

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SLTDA to build countrywide tour operator database by Dec.

  • Only 773 homestay operators have registered with SLTDA
  • Minister emphasises importance of standardisation of homestay operators countrywide

vbcfvxcBy Charumini de Silva

In the latest attempt to regulate informal tourist operators, Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga called on authorities to set up countrywide committees to submit the full details of homestay operators in order to build a database by December.

He stressed the importance of standardising homestay operators countrywide, noting that the tourism sector has been recognised as a thrust industry for economic development.

“No country in the world wants to wipe out the homestay segment from the tourism industry because it is one of the important sectors which trickles down the benefits to the grassroots levels of the communities. The need to regulate the informal segment was not to eliminate it but to uplift and ensure that travellers will enjoy a safe, comfortable and clean home away from home and unforgettable experience,” he said at the inauguration of a Home Stay Awareness and Training Program conducted by SLTDA in Colombo yesterday.

Tourism officials last year launched an ambitious set of regulations to give every hotel in Sri Lanka a star rating in a sweeping effort to bring service levels up to international standards and implement a policy that has been in the pipeline for over a decade. However, it was pointed out yesterday that only 773 homestay operators have registered with the LTDA with a 2,714-room capacity, while a lot more units are to be brought into the system.


While five-star hotels in the country enjoy most of the earnings they receive from the sector, the Minister admitted that the informal sector contributes significantly to uplifting the livelihoods of the rural economy of the island.

Acknowledging the power of social media, he urged homestay operator to maintain a database of transport and other suppliers to eradicate any awful experiences for foreigners as they tarnished an image which has been built over many years.

Amaratunga said homestays were not a new concept and were well-practiced in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brazil. However, he pointed out that in those countries they manage this segment systematically and up to a high standard.

“This is what is lacking in our country and by setting up the communities we want to systematically uplift the standards of this segment,” he added.

Outlining the tourist industry highlights from January to July this year, SLTDA Director General Malraj Kiriella said over 1.2 million arrivals have been recorded with an average growth of 3.8% y-o-y, where the duration of a stay is 10.2 nights.

Based on an airport survey conducted last year, 38.4% travellers have made their own arrangements, while 37.7% have organised through internet, 21% through a tour operator and 2% through a travel agent in Sri Lanka. Most of these tourists have engaged in activities such as sightseeing, sea bathing, visits to historic sites, shopping, wildlife and round tours at tourist attractions including Kandy, South and West coastal beaches, Colombo city for shopping, Sigiriya, Dambulla, the hill country and wildlife parks.

In terms of the types of accommodation facilities used, the majority of travellers who visited Sri Lanka last year preferred staying in the formal sector of hotels. According to the survey, 57% of tourists stayed in hotels while 30% in guest houses, 7% chose homestays, 3% with friends and relatives, 2% in apartments and 1% used other forms of accommodation.

Kiriella identified education, entertainment, food, accommodation and hospitality as vital components of homestay units.

Commenting on the benefits of homestays to the local community, he pointed out that they created job opportunities, provided supplementary income, improved the quality of life, increased economic diversification, enhanced environmental integrity, preserved cultural and natural heritage and uplifted training and capabilities in business development and tourism.

In addition, value for money, meeting local people, the capability to explore beyond the tourist trail, learn local cultures and customs, experience a real home away from home and unforgettable memories were identified as the benefits for foreign travellers.

The affordable homestay accommodation benefitting expectations and tastes are sub-categorised into three segments including homestay units, bungalows and rented houses or apartments. As per the SLTDA, the most popular areas for homestays in Sri Lanka are Anuradhapura, Batticaloa, Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Jaffna, Kalutara, Kandy, Matara, Nuwara Eliya, Polonnaruwa, Puttalam, Ratnapura, Trincomalee, Gampaha, Matale, Kurunegala and Ampara.

Of the three categories, Kandy is at the top in terms of homestay units with 24% followed by Colombo 16%, Badulla 15% and Kalutara 6%, while in the bungalows category Kandy once again leads with 17%, Galle 16%, Colombo 13% and Gampaha7%. In terms of rented houses and apartments, Colombo dominates with 56% followed by Kandy 15%, Galle 8% and Gampaha 5%.

The full-day program saw around 100 homestay operators from across the island.
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