Archive for November, 2017

Jetwing Surf, Pottuvil, to open with Rs 500 mn investment

Jetwing Hotels has invested Rs. 500 million for their latest hotel, Jetwing Surf, Pottuvil, which will open end of the year.

Jetwing Hotels Chairman Hiran Cooray said that they had selected this seven-acre plot of land mainly because it was one of the best surfing points in Sri Lanka. “In addition, we also looked at an area where there are no star hotel and decided to build Jetwing Surf, at Pottuvil, knowing that it would also benefit the society in the area.”

He said that while generating new employment opportunities in the area espousing tourism to Pottuvil, they also recruited many youth to work in the hotel.” Jetwing Surf, built in an area with a 95% Muslim population would become the first eco-luxury surf resort in the East.

He said that Jetwing Surf, Pottuvil which initially offers 20 luxury cabanas, is designed by John Bellmore who recently won the Best Hotel Architecture Design award at the PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Sri Lanka) held in Singapore, as the hotel is built on minimum carbon footprint.

He said that they plan to market the hotel around US$ 300 and currently the forward booking are very positive.

Each of the cabanas has a spacious outdoor deck that opens out to the towering coconut trees and gleaming view of the Indian Ocean in between. Equipped with ceiling fans to complement the sea breeze that circles within the premises, each of the rooms has a bathroom with hot and cold indoor and outdoor showers that allows you to feel closer to nature.

The hotel also has several popular tourism attractions such as Arugam Bay, Pottuvil Point and Whisky Point for surf lovers and Panama Lake, Semanikulam Lake and Rotakulam Lake for nature enthusiasts and the Sastrawela Maninaga Pabbatha Viharaya, Kudumbigala Monastery, Muhudu Maha Viharaya, and Magul Maha Viharaya as significant archaeological sites.

Kumana National Park, which is also home to the largest flock of migrant birds, Lahugala and Gal Oya National Parks are also in the vicinity and is home to an abundance of flora and fauna.



100 Chinese couples to say ‘I do’ in Colombo

From left: China Embassy Cultural Attache Liu Dong, SLTPB Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara, Megapoils and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga, Waters Edge Chairman Chamath de Silva and Sri Lanka Green Leaves Entertainment Ltd. Managing Director Zhang Hong

In a fresh attempt to position Sri Lanka as a wedding destination, the Government has planned to hitch 100 Chinese couples at a mass wedding ceremony on 17 December at Town Hall, Colombo.

Organised by the Tourism Development Ministry together with the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and Green Leaves Entertainment Ltd, this grand Sri Lanka-China traditional mass wedding is expected to strengthen the two countries’ relations, with it being held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga described the event as a significant occasion to promote Sri Lanka tourism, particularly amongst Chinese nationals.

He said the 100 couples getting married in December would not be a one-off occurrence but a monthly event. “I am told they will be sending groups of young Chinese men and women to come to Sri Lanka and celebrate their marriage and enjoy their honeymoon every month following the mass wedding ceremony.”

Amaratunga asserted that there were many more couples requesting to join the mass wedding but the authorities had to restrict this as this was the first event and they needed to ensure that the facilities and planning were of the highest quality.

Noting that Sri Lanka was now the most popular destination in South Asia, the Minister said that there was no other country that could offer this level of diversity, saying the country’s appeal was immense.

He said these events would undoubtedly attract more Chinese to Sri Lanka, especially younger Chinese tourists.

Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka declared that the event was going to be a historic milestone for Sri Lanka to celebrate strong bilateral relations with China while showcasing the island’s rich heritage.

“The tourism industry is a thrust sector of our economy. Foreigners are attracted to the warmth of our people and this is one of the key reasons for these 100 Chinese couples to visit Sri Lanka to celebrate the most important milestone in their life,” he added.

Stating that Chinese Admiral Zheng visited Sri Lanka in 1410 and took away then ruler King Alagiyawanne, who then married a Chinese lady, he added that the descendants of this King were still living in China.

According to the Minister, a princess’ son from that dynasty in China would be coming to Sri Lanka to get married in Colombo. “This is a historic event for our country as we may be able to have some links with our lost royal dynasty after more than 600 years.”

In addition, three Chinese Olympic medallists will also be getting married at the mass wedding. He called on all stakeholders to help make the event a major success.

The Managing Director of the main organiser of the event, Green Leaves Entertainment Ltd, Zhang Hong, noted that there were over 500 couples registered in China, but they could not accommodate all of them at this mass wedding.

It was revealed that the 100 couples were selected from various provinces of China and they hoped to have mass weddings in Sri Lanka on a monthly basis.

Three Chinese celebrity chefs will also be flown in to provide catering for the mass wedding.

Green Leaves Entertainment Ltd. Chairman Harendra Rodrigo told the Daily FT that they were expecting around 800 guests from China, including couples and their relatives who would be flying down for the event and staying in Sri Lanka from 16-23 December.

“All the couples will arrive on 16 December morning via three SriLankan Airlines flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. They will be staying at Kingsbury Hotel and Galadari Hotel,” he added.

Rodrigo said that on 17 December the wedding party will be ceremonially escorted to the venue by 100 cars and horse carriages. The main ceremony will take place at Town Hall from 4.00 p.m. to 6.30 p.m., while the dinner reception will be held at Waters Edge.

In the future he asserted that they hoped to conduct mass weddings at Waters Edge and also promote mass weddings in European countries as well, but not on this scale.

Source :–I-do–in-Colombo/44-644383

Aitken Spence Travels recognized by TUI with Destination Services Partner Award 2016/17

24540573158_c091739424_kTUI Destination Services held its first ever Partnership Update in London earlier this month. Some of the Senior Leadership Team hosted a breakfast event during World Travel Market Week for our Key Strategic Destination Management Partners.

The event included a TUI Group and TUI DS business update, with a focus on how we deliver TUI global standards, systems and process in all partnership destinations. We celebrated success with awards for the best performing partner destinations for transfer and excursion excellence, with winners from all corners of the globe.

Partner Destination Management Companies are countries where TUI DS doesn’t have their own transport or excursion operation and relies on the great collaboration of local partners. It was a successful meeting and further events will follow. It was a great chance for the Senior Leadership Team to network with our partners from around the world.

Awards for Transfer and Excursion in a partner destination

Transfer Overall

Winter 16/17 Destination Services (Hotelbeds) Costa Rica
Summer 17 Destination Services (Hotelbeds) Costa Rica

Excursion Overall

Winter 16/17 Asian Trails Indonesia Bali
Summer 17 De Palm Tours Aruba

Attending the event were: Snaeland Grimson (Iceland), Acampora Travel, Cassata Travel, Destinazione Calabria, Europlan, Ovest and Saistours (Italy) Lapland Safaris (Finland) Karatanova (Macedonia), Gulliver (Montenegro), Gulliver Travels (Croatia) Travco (Egypt, Emirates, Jordon), Holiday Travel (Israel) Summertimes (Mauritius), Creole Travel Services (Seychelles), Aitken Spence(Sri Lanka)Destination Services (Thailand) Alpha Pollmanns (Kenya and Tanzania)Le Passage to India(India), Asian Trails (Indonesia), Nexus (Caribbean) De Palm Tours (Aruba), TMC (Curacao), Tropical Travel (Bonaire), Destination Services (Costa Rica)

Source : TUI DS smile communications platform

Yala National Park

Aitken Spence Travels would like to keep you informed that the Government of Sri Lanka has decided to limit the number of tourists & jeeps visiting Yala to a maximum of 200 jeeps per day with 100 jeeps in the morning and 100 jeeps entering in the evening. Entrance to the park will be on a “First Come First Served” basis and in order to ensure that the maximum number of our guests are accommodated, we will be implementing the following measures.

  1. All clients travelling from Nuwara Eliya should enter from the Galge entrance (Block 3, 4 & 5).
  2. Clients staying in hotels in the Kataragama area should enter from the Katagamuwa entrance.
  3. FIT clients will be accommodated on a seat-in-jeep basis instead of their own jeep due to the limit imposed on jeeps per day.

Turkish Airlines Awarded “Five-Star Global Airline” in APEX Official Airline Ratings

Aiming to offer a Five-Star service at each and every passenger touch point, the latest accolade is an important affirmation of Turkish Airlines’ dedication to further improving its brand experience.

Turkish Airlines, flying to more countries than any other airline, has been named a “Five-Star Global Airline” by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) Official Airline Ratings. The prestigious award, based on passenger feedback, was presented to Turkish Airlines at the APEX Award Ceremony at Expo 2017 in Long Beach, California.

This five-star ranking reaffirms Turkish Airlines’ position as a global leader in passenger experience and comfort.

Commenting on the airline’s latest accolade, Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines M. İlker Aycı said: “We strive to provide the best travel experience to our guests and having been named a ‘Five Star Global Airline’ by passenger votes is the most valuable recognition that we can have in return.  What differentiates us is that while connecting our guests with their loved ones, we turn great ideas into reality that result in a travel experience full of unique services and delightful differences. Touching our passengers’ hearts is the key factor that earned us a series of awards. This is our most important advantage over our competitors.”

The APEX Official Airline Ratings are the industry’s first rating program based solely on passengers’ verified feedback. This innovative industry program gathers passenger feedback based on travel itineraries and provides an audited third-party analysis of the insights gathered.


APEX Airline Ratings

State Dance Ensemble enthralls crowds at Sri Lanka Festival 2017 in Canberra

Vibrantly colourful and authentic portrayal of traditional Sri Lankan dance and drumming by the State Dance Ensemble led by its Artistic Director and renowned choreographer, dancer and drummer Ravibandhu Vidyapathy, enthralled all present at the Sri Lanka Festival 2017 on Saturday 25 November in Canberra. They performed several items throughout the day starting with Namaskara Gaatha and Saraswathie Pooja and going on to low country, and Kandyan dancing traditions, with the grand finale of Bheri Vrunda or Drum Orchestra, that resonated throughout the grounds.

Chair of the Australia Sri Lanka Parliamentary Group in the Australian Parliament, Scott Buchholz and Minister for Multicultural Affairs of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Rachel Stephen Smith graced the occasion as Guests of Honour. The latter was representing the Chief Minister of the ACT. Also present as Special Invitees were the Secretary to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs Dewasirige Swarnapala, ACT Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs Elizabeth Kikkert, First Assistant Secretary for South and West Asia Division of the Department of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Kathy Klugman, Director, Multicultural Office of the ACT Azra Khna, and Assistant Commissioner and National Manager Protection Operations of ACT Policing, Commander John Bourke. Presidents of all Sri Lanka Associations in Canberra represented the diverse Sri Lankan community at the Opening Ceremony.

High Commissioner Skandakumar welcomed the invitees and said 2017 has been a very special year for Sri Lanka-Australia relations due to the number of reciprocal high level visits and special commemorative events that were held. Kathy Klugman from the DFAT who is a former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, echoed the High Commissioner’s sentiments and applauded the presence of Ravibandhu Vidyapathy, as the pre-eminent expert on traditional Sri Lankan dancing and drumming in Sri Lanka.

Federal Member Scott Buchholz paid tribute to his predecessor in the Sri Lanka Australia Parliamentary Group the late Don Randall, for his contribution to strengthening relations between the two countries and Parliaments and announced that he will be going to Sri Lanka in April 2018 with a Parliamentary delegation. ACT Multicultural Affairs Minister paid tribute to the Sri Lankan community in Canberra for their participation and contribution to the cultural diversity of the Canberra community.

Large crowds braved the hot temperatures to savour the Sri Lankan tea and culinary delights on offer, as well as handlooms, burnt wood art and porcelain. The High Commission organised a Tea Counter and a Tourism stall to promote Sri Lanka while Sri Lankan Associations offered hoppers, thosai, vadei, fresh juice, rice and curry and kottu. Family members of the High Commission staff organised a food stall and the proceeds will be donated to the Government supported charity project ‘Little Hearts’ to construct a cardiac unit at the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital in Sri Lanka.  The Festival was organised by Sri Lanka’s High Commission to Australia for the second consecutive year. In recognition of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries this year, the Cultural Affairs Ministry sponsored the national Dance Ensemble to perform at the Festival. Other sponsors included the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sri Lanka Tea Board, SriLankan Airlines, Hyatt Hotel Canberra, University of Canberra, Hony Consul for Western Australia and the Sinhala Cultural Association of Canberra. The Consulates Offices in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as the Hony Consuls in Queensland and Southern Australia also assisted in publicity, organising performances for the State Dance Troupe and selling raffle tickets.

Source :

Sri Lanka Tourism creates global impact at Family Traveller Awards

The excellent team effort carried out by Sri Lanka Tourism was further endorsed by the Family Traveller Awards which was held on 21 November in London, by becoming the winner of the best long-haul destination for families. This was another achievement for Sri Lanka Tourism, creating an important landmark in its promotional campaign across the globe. Dubai became the runner up of this category.

The judging panel consisted of a range of travel experts, including: Jane Anderson, editor of Family Traveler magazine, Simon Reeve, BBC presenter; Mariella Frostrup, BBC Radio 4 presenter; Sue Ward Davies, travel director of ELLE and Jane Knight, travel editor of The Times. Short lists of every category were then put to the public vote.

The list of categories in the awards ceremony included the best family ferry operator, Best family cruise line, best family airline, in which Emirates came up as the winner and Virgin Atlantic was nominated as the runner up. Universal Studios, Florida, won the award for the best family theme park, whereas best UK Day Out for Families was the Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter and The Natural History Museum as the runner up. The other categories included the best family festival, best all-inclusive holiday for families, best European hotel for families, best short –haul destination for families, in which Greece won the award as the winner, and Portugal was the runner up. Intrepid travel became the best adventure specialist for families, with Explore Worldwide becoming the runner up.

Family Traveler Editor Jane Anderson commented on Sri Lanka’s win thus: “I’m thrilled to see Sri Lanka winning Best Long Haul Destination for Families in the Family Traveler Awards 2017. Every family I speak to who has visited the country recently, whether travel writer, reader or friend, comes back bursting with enthusiasm and wonder at the culture, landscapes, nature, accommodation and very warm welcome they receive. There’s a buzz about the place that’s palpable.”

The Family Traveller Awards 2017 attracted a record of 45,000 votes from the popular magazine and website’s readership this year demonstrating how important it is for UK and also the entire travel industry. Over 2300 companies were nominated and 240 were shortlisted for 20 categories.

The Family Traveller is an exclusive magazine which includes parent’s advice and inspiration for exclusive family trips, expert destination guides, and travel deals. Family Traveller has made its mark as the trusted authority on family travel in the UK. Its website and magazine are the first port of call for parents looking for inspiration and information whether that’s on a day trip to London or an adventure on the other side of the globe.  This year, this popular brand has expanded to launch in the USA both online and in print.

Now in its third year, the Family Traveler Awards 2017 were supported by three great family friendly brands, AVIS, The Malta Tourism Authority and Kodak Pixpro. This time the awards ceremony depicted that the family- centric travel is booming and is a great way of keeping family ties together.

The beautifully crafted magazine with its exquisite photography is published three times a year – in April, September and December which are the peak seasons for holiday trips.  The Family Traveller Awards 2017 attracted a record of 45,000 votes from the popular magazine and website’s readership this year demonstrating how important it is for UK and also the entire travel industry. Over 2300 companies were nominated and 240 were shortlisted for 20 categories.

Readers voted on every element of a family trip from the transport to the tour operator and from the accommodation to the kids’ club. The results clearly showed parents are looking for active and culturally enriching holidays over and above lazy fly and flop options.

This beautifully crafted magazine with its exquisite photography is published three times a year – in April, September and December which are the peak seasons for holiday trips.

Holidays designed to enrich the lives of children are becoming increasingly popular signaling the demand by parents to use the time together as richly as possible. Hotels are improving their facilities and services for families, and kids’ clubs are increasingly focusing on providing its mini members with local and cultural experiences inside and outside of the hotel property.

According to Jane Anderson, editor of Family Traveller magazine, “Transformative travel, authentic experiences and active outdoorsy holidays are on the rise for families.  The industry has clearly recognized that parents and carers are seeking enriching experiences and are providing holidays which are tailored, great value and leave their customers with memories to treasure for years to come.”

Sri Lanka Tourism has won several international awards continuously as a reward for its effort to promote Sri Lanka as a preferred holiday destination. This will by and place it on the global map as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Subsequently, the World Travel Market (WTM), the leading global event for the Travel and Tourism industry, took place from 6-8 November at the Excel Exhibition Hall, London, to promote international travel throughout the world. Appreciating this unique opportunity to promote Sri Lanka as a renowned destination in world travel and in order to develop the British market further, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, (SLTPB) in collaboration with the travel industry participated for the 41st time.

A press conference was held on 7 November, 3-4 pm, preceded by afternoon tea 2:30-3 p.m. celebrating 150 years of Ceylon Tea, for over 80 travel trade, print and electronic media. The conference was opened and moderated by Mr Alston Koch. The first address was by the Rt. Hon. John Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs on the recent launch of the three-year strategic plan for tourism to position the country as a place for “memorable, authentic and diverse tourism experiences”. A presentation was made to the Minister by Druvi Gunasekera of the new Sri Lankan Boutique Hotels Guide and by Anuruddha Bandara of the Bush Camps brochure.

The Hon. Minister described in-depth the many wonders of Sri Lanka: 3000 years of history, eight UNESCO heritage sites. rich bio-diversity and wildlife including leopard and 1,300 km of golden sandy beaches, highlands that rise to 8000 feet above sea level that are home to the world famous Ceylon tea and although only 65,000 km2 in size with diverse and authentic attractions like nowhere else on earth.  The Minister announced that in 2016, 2.1 m tourists visited Sri Lanka, with 154, 000 UK visitors this year to date up 7.4 % from 2016.  Not to mention being the only country on earth where the two biggest mammals on land and in the sea can be seen on the same day.

The Minister commented: “Some of the main reasons for this positive growth is that British tourists have come to realise that Sri Lanka is home away from home, due to our historical connections,” he continued, “this includes our British era buildings, English signage, English spoken as one of our three official languages and Westminster style of governance”.

Britain is the only country in Europe with direct flights by Sri Lankan Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways, give connectivity from 5 major UK cities daily to their 4 flights each, daily to Colombo among other airlines give connectivity from UK and Europe, and now enjoys online visa facilities. The minister advised the audience that since the end of civil war in 2009 tourist arrivals have increased by 400% to this very safe country.

“A changing political landscape based on good governance, respect for human rights, upholding of democratic values and a vibrant, engaging foreign policy have ensured that the bi-lateral relations between the UK and Sri Lanka are the closest they have ever been,” he added.

The Minister went on to list the many activities and adventures available from surfing, kite surfing and powerboat racing to ballooning, parachuting, golf, the Iron Man marathon, or medical and wellness tourism. With a sophisticated accommodation sector, friendly and hospitable people Sri Lanka is ideal for both the leisure and MICE markets.

Concluding that the new plan sets out a roadmap to raise service levels, offer exciting new products, open up new destinations and create a vibrant events calendar to attract a global audience showing the way forward to increase revenue, support local communities and grow tourism on a sustainable platform that protects the environment.

Following the Minister’s address, SLTPB Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara launched the new brand video. This was followed by SriLankan Airlines vision by Head of Worldwide Sales and Distribution Dimuthu Tennakoon. The press conference ended with a photographic presentation by Sheena Harvey, BBC Wildlife Magazine’s editor on her amazing wildlife experiences in Sri Lanka.

A business card draw was held for a selection of five amazing stays in Sri Lanka which were won by five of the lucky media present.

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