Archive for June, 2018

Award winning film ‘The Great Elephant Gathering’ to highlight animal behaviour in local setting

Award winning ‘The Great Elephant Gathering’ which is a wildlife documentary and film directed by Dilum Alagiyawanna is to be screened at the Tharanganee Film Hall on 6 July at 6:30 p.m., highlighting animal behaviour at its best in a local setting.

The documentary is a 40 minute observation of the annual elephant gathering at the Minneriya National Park. The gathering at Minneriya is a sight to behold that takes place during the dry season which is from July to September when the water supplies reduce drastically in this region.

It is to cope up with the strong sun and droughts that the elephants congregate around the Minneriya reservoir where grasses are rich and fertile. The elephants come from areas beyond the reservoir and at times herds with numbers as large as 300 to 400 can be seen, depicts the film.

According to authorities the elephant gathering at Minneriya is the largest grouping of elephants at one time in Asia. This event probably dates back centuries but it has only gained mainstream attention quite recently. Hence the documentary will be giving recognition to this magnificent once a year natural rendezvous.

The film produced in partnership with the Department of Wildlife also won the ‘Best Animal Behaviour Award’ at the 16th Japan Wildlife Film Festival that was held in Tokyo after competing with 31 nominations out of 208 global entries during 2 to 3 April earlier this year.

Having commenced first in 1993, the Japan Wildlife Film Festival is organised biennially – every odd year in Japan, with the cooperation of Wildscreen in Bristol, UK and Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in Wyoming, USA and is now the largest event of its kind in Asia and Pacific Rims.

The special screening of this well-renowned film has been organised by the Ruhuna University Alumni Colombo Association.(SJ)

Source :–The-Great-Elephant-Gathering–to-highlight-animal-behaviour-in-local-setting/27-658008



SpiceRoads Cycling rolls out e-bikes in Sri Lanka

SpiceRoads Cycling, a Bangkok-based premier niche cycling touring operator, is introducing e-bikes in Sri Lanka, a move it says will allow riders of more varied experience or fitness levels to experience destinations and communities on cycling tours, TTG Asia reported.

In a statement, SpiceRoads Cycling said riders with less experience, lower fitness, injuries or with less confidence in their abilities can enjoy trips and destinations without worrying about being able to keep up.

E-bikes would also allow sports enthusiasts to enjoy a cycling tour with a spouse, family member or friend who would otherwise not consider the activity.

SpiceRoads Managing Director Daniel Moylan said: “We believe that cycle travel provides a more authentic, sustainable and memorable travel experience for our customers and the communities they travel to and interact with. E-bikes allow us to be more inclusive of who is able to join our tours and see the world with us.”

The new e-bikes can be hired per tour, as an alternative to standard mountain, road or carbon bike hire.

Sri Lanka e-bikes are Scott Cross-E Sub 20 bikes, with “pedal assist” technology, which engages the bike’s motor once the rider begins to pedal. The more the rider pedals, the more the motor is activated, making e-bikes great for tackling climbs or comfortably cruising at speed.

The company says the bike tour takes the nature lovers and cycling enthusiasts through a variety of landscapes and challenging tracks and sure to be marvellous experience.

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Targeting more Indian tourist footfalls

By Meera Srinivasan

The Hindu: Sri Lanka is aiming for a tourism revenue of $4 billion this year, which would be a record high for the sector. To achieve that, the island’s tourism department will chiefly target visitors from India, from where it gets the highest number of visitors. Authorities point to an uptick in young travellers from India coming to Sri Lanka on weekend trips. They arrive on Friday night and return on Sunday, often squeezing in a quick drive to beach towns such as Galle and Bentota along the southern coast.

With the hope of getting Indian tourists to prolong their stay, and to draw more tourists from other key markets such as China, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, Sri Lanka’s Tourism Development Authority is looking to popularise new attractions. According to its chairman Kavan Ratnayaka, these places will also be an alternative to the currently popular destinations that often get overcrowded — especially Yala National Park in the south and the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya in the Central Province. “We are exploring if the ancient town of Polonnaruwa can be presented as an alternative to Sigiriya, and other national parks like Minneriya and Kaudulla as alternatives to Yala,” he told The Hindu.

Additionally, tourism authorities are giving shape to the ‘Ramayana trail’, which will consist of sites that many believe have links to the epic. While private tour operators already offer packages to some of these sites, the Tourism Development Authority is yet to formalise the trail. New Delhi, especially after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government took over in 2014, has been reportedly keen on the initiative. Simultaneously, within Sri Lanka, there is a resurgent interest in Ravana that offers potential for developing associated sites, officials said.

Making Colombo more happening

The trail is only one of the many attractions on the scenic island, where the beaches, hills and historic sites compete for attention. Many Indians are also patrons of the 24-hour casinos in Colombo. In fact, some of them travel frequently, often in groups, and spend the weekend chasing fortunes. The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority is also focussing on “making Colombo more happening” with greater retail and entertainment options, authorities said. While its outreach is global, there is a special focus on India – for its proximity and traditional business links – through a targeted campaign online.

Since the end of the civil war in 2009, Sri Lanka has been witnessing a steady increase in tourist arrivals, but there has been a considerable surge in the last couple of years. From 4.47 lakh in 2009, the number of tourists increased to 10 lakh in 2012. By 2016, the figure had doubled to 20 lakh, according to official data. This year, until May, over 10 lakh tourists visited the island. Of those, about 1.7 lakh visitors, almost a fifth of the total arrivals, were from India. China came second in terms of the number of tourists, with 1.16 lakh arrivals.

Tourism is, at present, Sri Lanka’s third-biggest source of foreign exchange, after tea and textiles. Authorities want to push it to the top slot. Keeping this objective in mind, they have strengthened security measures. Earlier this year, following a series of incidents involving sexual abuse and violence targeting foreign tourists, authorities said they would set up police posts and patrols at popular resorts. “We have zero tolerance to any threat to the safety of tourists. Sri Lanka should be absolutely safe for the solo woman traveller. That is the standard we are working towards,” said Ratnayaka.

(The writer works for The Hindu and is based in Colombo.)

Source :–Indian-tourist-footfalls/27-658010

Seeing Sri Lanka on a bicycle

  • Eco Team creates personalised tours for cycling enthusiasts 

There are many ways to explore a country. Despite being a relatively small island, Sri Lanka can be seen and experienced via scenic seaplane tours, picturesque climbs through the winding hills and tea plantations on a train, or hopping a bus and getting to know the locals as you travel through different terrains in a matter of hours. Then there’s also a novel way of seeing everything that Sri Lanka has to offer, while riding your own bicycle through the hills and valleys.

Eco Team, Sri Lanka’s pioneering adventure sport and tourism company, is currently facilitating a personalised cycling tour for 13 cycling enthusiasts from Australia. The tour which spans 11 days runs through Minuwangoda, Nikaweratiya, Anuradhpura, Habarana, Kandy, Kitulgala, Panadura, Ahungalla and Galle.

Cycling has become immensely popular in Sri Lanka in the last few years and Eco Team has seen a lot of different types of travellers coming in to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is not just a hot travel spot anymore, but is also classifies as an experience destination. Taking advantage of this fact Eco Team strives to create those experiences for different tour groups and their needs.

Feeling the wind in their hair, enjoying the smiles and hospitality of the locals, the team of eight able bodied and five disabled cyclists will spend 11 days travelling 60-100 km per day experiencing all that Sri Lanka has to offer. Their tour will take them through lush green paddy fields, historical cities, along winding rivers, up steep mountain ranges, and end along the sun-kissed Southern coast.

Eco Team has the ability to customise tours according to the client’s requirements. They not only create the tour, but also provide a dedicated team of cycling guides, back-up vehicle crew, medics, catering and logistics support throughout the tour. Bike technicians also travel with the tour group configuring the bicycles to suit height and other specifications, while also transporting helmets, back-up bikes and other gear. When organising the tours Eco Team mainly chooses the B and C routes so that the groups avoid traffic while also getting the opportunity to experience real village life.

With an increased interest for cycling tours specifically from groups in Europe, Eco Team has also seen an increase in the number of tour groups from Australia owing to the direct flights that now operate from there.

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SriLankan Airlines invites Middle East travellers to explore island’s wildlife attractions

Sri Lanka’s flag carrier SriLankan Airlines is offering travellers from the Middle East the opportunity to explore the wide variety of Sri Lanka’s abundant wildlife and natural beauty.

With 68 weekly flights to the Sri Lankan capital from the cities of the Gulf countries, SriLankan Airlines is rolling out the red carpet for Middle Eastern travellers looking for a brief stopover on their onward journey or for a more comprehensive island getaway this summer.

Late summer is also the ideal time to witness the biggest wildlife spectacular that the Emerald Isle offers – the Minneriya Elephant Gathering, the largest coming together of Asian elephants at any one time in the world.The Gathering takes place annually during the months of August and September, when herds of elephants and other wildlife from across the island make their way to the Minneriya Tank – a man-made lake that holds water even in the dry season – to drink from the sweet water that is always in abundance there, even in the driest of weather.

This spectacular coming together of herds of elephant, deer, buffalo and other animals in search of water and fodder, gives tourists a grandstand view of the wonders of nature, as the animals drink, frolic and play in the evening sunlight before heading onward.

Minneriya National Park is situated in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, close to Habarana, the Cultural Triangle and the Sigiriya Rock, all of which are top attractions for tourists, and have a range of accommodation and dining options.

“Sri Lanka has a wide range of natural attractions to offer the Middle East traveller who is looking for a refreshing holiday that is not too far away from home,” said SriLankan Airlines General Manager Marketing Saminda Perera. “With our daily flights out of the main cities of the region, we offer not only convenient connections but also seamless onward connections to Asia and Australia through our Colombo hub.”

SriLankan Airlines today has daily flights to Colombo from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, Bahrain and Kuwait. Recent figures indicate that Sri Lanka received 107,635 tourists from the GCC countries in 2017, a growth of 6.5%, with the UAE figuring as the major source market in the region.

Responding to growing demand from the region, SriLankan Airlines recently boosted its services with daily flights to Colombo from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, Bahrain and Kuwait, totalling 68 flights a week. The airline is also looking at increasing connectivity to other parts of the Gulf depending on demand. (Source: TradeArabia News Service)


Sri Lanka awarded Top Global Safety Destination for Women Travellers by People’s Daily of China

The People’s Daily newspaper of China selected Sri Lanka as the top global safety destination for women travellers in 2018, in a recently concluded contest, which combined the results of expert reviews, ratings and popular votes. Sri Lanka topped the list of 20 countries that were selected, including USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Switzerland and the Maldives.

The awards were presented to representatives from the embassies and travel bureaus of the winning countries on 5 June, at a ceremony held during the 2018 Women’s Safe Travel Experience Summit, co-organised by the People’s Daily and the Capital Normal University.

Ambassador for Sri Lanka to China Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku, speaking as the representative of the winning country, thanked the People’s Daily for recognising Sri Lanka’s commitment to the safety of tourists visiting the country, particularly women travellers who are rapidly becoming a strong demographic in the tourism sector.

Stressing on the importance of safety as a deciding factor in selecting a travel destination, Dr. Kodituwakku said that Sri Lankan people are hospitable, friendly and ever ready to provide a helping hand to travellers who need assistance. He also noted that tourist places are well organised, with dedicated staff to guide and help tourists enjoy their visits, and highlighted the presence of a tourist police division dedicated to addressing and processing complaints in a speedy manner and who regularly liaise with the travel industry to improve safety measures for tourists.  Ambassador Kodituwakku highlighted the many experiences available for tourists visiting Sri Lanka, including the beautiful beaches for both relaxation and adventure, and natural attractions including diversity of scenery within a few hours’ drive of each other, wildlife parks and reserves, and biodiversity hotspots. He also highlighted that Sri Lanka is also rich in heritage, with many places rich in ancient history and culture for those interested in exploring the country’s past and festive pageantry. Dr. Kodituwakku noted that all these experiences are easily accessible through safe and convenient public transport, either railways or highways or domestic flights, all of which provide quick and safe means of travel for all visitors. In conclusion, Dr. Kodituwakku again thanked the People’s Daily for their recognition of Sri Lanka through this award, and invited guests to visit Sri Lanka to explore its rich diversity of experiences.

Representatives from the People’s Daily, Baidai Trip, National Cultural History Magazine, and China Women’s Cultural Research Center also spoke during the event.

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Sri Lanka Tourism unleashes multiplatform global campaigns

Sri Lanka Tourism is carrying out multi-platform promotional campaigns while the digital campaign is in the final stages of the evaluation process, to be submitted for cabinet approval in early part of July 2018. The campaigns have focused on key international markets including Europe, Middle East, China, India, APAC and the USA. SLTPB has commenced a three-month CNN global advertising campaign which is currently in progress, to depict Sri Lanka’s identity to the world as a tourism hot spot.

Over the last 12 months, Sri Lanka Tourism has expanded its successful social media travel influencers program and visiting travel writer’s program as well. From May 2017 to April 2018, over 30 social media travel influencers have visited Sri Lanka, resulting in an overall social media reach of 65 million and a total engagement of 12.5 million on social media platforms including Instagram, YouTube and face book.

Several TV documentaries about Sri Lanka have been aired on leading TV channels including Channel 9 (Australia), WDR (Germany), 3SAT (France), CCTV (China) and ARTE (France/Germany) in 2017,describing about the country’s beautiful tea estates, beaches, culture and exotic wildlife.

In addition to earned publicity advertising and branding, paid print media publications which featured the Sri Lanka include Food and Travel Magazine, Escapism magazine UK, Abenteuer und Reisen&Reise Germany, Voyagers & Grand Reportages of France, and the Gulf newspaper, UAE. In 2017 via the visiting travel writers’ and TV programme. a viewership of 75million (both TV and magazine) have featured Sri Lanka in the recent past, reaching target audiences in key markets such as UK, France, Germany, China, and India which are important markets for Sri Lanka in terms of tourist arrivals and investments.

This year, Journalists from leading media houses from UK, such as Conde Nast, Luxury Travel Guide, Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Abroad UK, and Lonely planet India, with a total readership of 2 million was shown whereas an advertising value of $ 190,000 was marked.

SLTPB has also held press conferences in major promotional events in 2018 such as ITB Berlin ATM Dubai and SATTE New Delhi, where 81 media houses participated generating 54 press articles while ITB 2018 drew the attention of 80 media houses and 27 press releases and ATM 2018 attracted 35 media houses with 20 press releases. The total media value of this exposure is estimated at over $ 1.4 million. SLTPB concurrently held networking sessions with travel influencers at these events creating more awareness of the destination.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau kicked off the CNN advertising campaign covering key international markets reaching a large number of viewers across the world. The three-month campaign with CNN will highlight the country’s nature, wild life and culture.

The campaign, with a promotional value of $625,000 will include TV commercials and editorials that will extend to multiple social media platforms through CNN’s “Great Big Story’’ which is under the editorial segment. This collaboration with the international media giant is an interim measure until the digital campaign and the global campaign comes on board.

The ‘Great Big Story’ is CNN’s social media arm, available on a large number of social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and twitter. Focused on cinematic storytelling, GBS will depict Sri Lanka’s natural and cultural wonders, showcasing the diversity of Sri Lanka in every aspect.

In this three-part mini-series, the Great Big Story features three important cultural and natural aspects of Sri Lanka; the historic city of Dambulla, known for its cave temple complex, the fire dancers, and the Mangrove Master. While the video on Dambulla has already been featured on air, the other two areas will be featured in due course. GBS is expected to reach over 800,000 viewers during the three-month campaign period.

By showcasing these attractions via GBS, SLTPB will focus on the unique combination between the natural and cultural heritage of the country while signifying the importance of such attractions for tourists who are keen to experience the multi-cultural diversity that Sri Lanka has to offer.

The CNN global network is scheduled to air over 1,500 commercial spots during the three-month campaign at peak and off-peak times. The commercial spots done for Sri Lanka Tourism will highlight the diversity of the destination based on scenery, wildlife and culture.

The CNN editorials are based on 60 second vacation videos about the destination focusing on beaches, surfing and the city of Colombo. These commercials will also be aired on airport networks in order to attract tourists and travellers.

Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga said, “We are looking forward to showcasing the hidden gems of Sri Lanka that are beautiful and undiscovered. We want the world to witness the culture and heritage that Sri Lanka nurtures. Our association with CNN International is a great step towards showcasing the cultural ethos of Sri Lanka through varied platforms that this partnership comprises. Through Great Big Story’s compelling story telling we are looking forward to reaching out to diverse audiences worldwide.”

“We’re having an integrated promotional campaign, with a blend of bloggers program for higher spenders in the digital space, media press releases in the overseas market, adverts in leading travel magazines, in the top 12 markets. Apart from that, below the line campaigning in major travel fairs, and the recent launch being the MasterCard campaign in India and the CNN global campaign,” expressed Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam.

Commenting on the campaign, CNN International’s Senior Vice President Advertising and Sales Sunita Rajan said, “We are thrilled to join hands with Sri Lanka Tourism to far, to create an exhilarating nation branding campaign. Our key focus is to produce engaging content that brings Sri Lanka’s travel experiences to life. The power of this collaboration lies in rich storytelling, adept branded content, clever targeting and the engagement that CNN and Great Big Story has with its audience.”

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