Archive for the ‘Sri Lanka Travel’ Category

Aitken Spence Travels wins Best Inbound Tour Operator at National Tourism Awards 2018

aitkenspence_tv.jpgAitken Spence Travels won the Best Inbound Tour Operator under the category of ‘Travel and Tourism Operator – Large’, at the National Tourism Awards 2018 conducted by The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

Aitken Spence Travels were the recipient of the same category in 2012 at the Presidential awards, as it was known then. The company had won this prestigious award for three consecutive years previously and it was the only destination management company to enter the Hall of Fame.

This year the winners were chosen by a panel of eminent industry experts and respected corporate professionals. The competition entailed a written application and presentation to the judging panel and site visits. The criteria covered audited Financial performance, Corporate Social Responsibility, commitment to the environment, Business and marketing plans, Customer care, HR and Sustainability.

This accolade won by Aitken Spence Travels further confirms its pre-eminent position of powering the spirit of travel to surpass its competitors, in been recognised for its achievements in Sri Lanka’s Tourism industry, contributions made in uplifting the industry standards through destination marketing, innovation, best practices and for the overall contribution to the growth of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.

“Over the years, Aitken Spence Travels has been opening new markets across continents to expand and enrich the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. In the last financial year, the company served more than 178,000 happy visitors from across the globe to grow its overall arrivals to 16 percent, when Sri Lanka’s national average on arrivals were at seven percent. The company can boldly state that we are the single largest room inventory buyer of 500,000 room nights of different star category hotels across the island and have generated over 1,500 indirect employment opportunities in the communities we work and operate,” stated Aitken Spence Travels Managing Director Nalin Jayasundera.

Achievements such as this is possible due to the hard work, commitment and professionalism of our team and the many stakeholders who partner to deliver the best experience of Sri Lanka to our discerning guests of varied backgrounds.

“I take this opportunity to place my sincere appreciation and thanks to my staff of Aitken Spence Travels who has always upheld the high standards maintained by the company with professionalism, quick response and attention to detail towards our travel agents’ inquiries and their visitor needs and wants. We are immensely grateful to our valuable tour operator partners who have trusted us for our expertise and built long standing partnerships, which is one of the pillars to our success. Our sincere thanks also goes to the numerous hotel partners who have worked closely with us in delivering high standard products and the numerous suppliers who have grown with us in delivering an exceptional experience of destination Sri Lanka,” added Jayasundera.

“Our sincere gratitude to our joint venture partner TUI, the world’s largest integrated tourism company that has synergised their strengths to work closely with Aitken Spence Travels and bring about the much needed charters, cruises and groups. We also express our sincere gratitude to our chairman and board of directors for their trust, confidence and guidance to the Aitken Spence Travels team,” Jayasundera further added.

The tourism industry has the potential to be the number one foreign exchange earner for the country if all stakeholders of the tourism industry work together to achieve this objective. However, ‘Ones destiny is in ones own hands’, hence Aitken Spence Travels will pursue in moving forward to achieve the 200,000 happy visitor mark for the 2018/19 financial year and will continue to be the highest foreign exchange earning destination management company in Sri Lanka.

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Leading business hotel in Australia opens hotel in Wellawatte

One of the leading business hotels in Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney GSH with over 1,000 keys has opened their first hotel in Sri Lanka at Wellawatte.

Manger Sales and Marketing, GSH Colombo Nabil Imanudeen said that they acquired a neglected property in Wellawatte and invested over Rs. 200 million to refurbish it to a modern business class hotel. “We have now branded the hotel as GSH Colombo.”

He said that they have completely redone the rooms with new interior and have also invested in modern kitchen and a new restaurant.

The hotel situated in Galle Road offers a 24 hour reception, bar (Euphoria), free WiFi, laundry facilities and many other facilities. In a bid to attract the MICE market both locally and globally conference and banquet facilities to have been introduced.

The consultant of the hotel Deeepal Nelson said that the hotel is already marketed in Australia. “Direct flights launched by SriLankan Airlines to Australia are helping to market the hotel in Australia.”

“We have positioned the hotel as a business hotel and we have a growing business clientele and also due to our competitive Bead and breakfast price and value for money proposition many local outstation travelers and families also use our hotel.”

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Sanken to build a 185-room luxury hotel in Galle with Rs.6bn investment

„1.5-acre land near Rumassala area in Galle secured
„Plans to enter into a management contract with a leading local hotel chain

Sri Lanka’s Sanken group plans to build a 185room luxury hotel with an investment of Rs.6 billion in Galle next year, which will be managed by a top Sri Lankan hotel chain.

According to company sources, Sanken has already purchased a 1.5-acre land near Rumassala area in Galle to construct the hotel and it has also secured approvals from the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and few other state agencies.

However, a company official on the grounds of anonymity said that the commencement of construction may take another six to 12 months as several other approvals from state agencies, such as approvals from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Central Environmental Authority, etc. are still pending. The Sanken group has a 51 percent equity share of the project while other investors, including a Singaporean investor, hold the rest of the equity in the project.

The group is also expected to enter into a management agreement shortly with a leading hotel chain in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, the Sanken group in partnership with Grand Monarch commenced the construction work of the Rs.10 billion mixed development project in Sri Jayewardenepura – comprising 320 middle-income apartments and a 2,000-seat convention centre.

The Sanken group and its joint venture partner secured the land from the UDA on a 99-year lease earlier this year. The residential tower will be adjoined to the convention centre, which would have other amenities, including a large food court.

The company official said that the construction of the convention centre has already begun and piling has been completed. The Sanken group plans to commence construction of the residential tower next year, after securing investments from a foreign partner.

The Sanken group and foreign investors plan to invest Rs.8 billion in the residential tower while Grand Monarch is investing around Rs.2 billion in the convention centre.

The Sanken group is also currently building its landmark luxury 400-plus apartment twin-tower project Capitol Twin Peak, at No: 24, Staple Street, Colombo 2, with a US $ 180 million investment.

With 34 levels being completed, the project is inching closer to completion by end-2020 with over 50 percent apartment units being already sold.

Sanken, which has its roots in the Fortune 500 Japanese Mitsui Construction Company, is a leading player in Sri Lanka’s construction industry.

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‘A Sri Lanka Evening’ with Aeroflot Russian Airlines

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Stockholm in collaboration with the Aeroflot Russian Airlines and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Sweden Chapter organised ‘A Sri Lanka Evening’ for the travel companies based in Sweden. The objective of the event was to encourage the Swedish travel companies to offer Sri Lanka as a travel destination by providing them with Sri Lanka tourism information as well as information on the newly resumed flights to Sri Lanka by Aeroflot Russian Airlines.

Welcoming the participants, Chargé d’ Affaires of the Embassy invited the travel trade representatives to focus more on Sri Lanka with the renewed international endorsements to the country from travel brands such as Lonely Planet. The Commercial Secretary made a presentation on Sri Lanka tourism followed by a presentation made by the Aeroflot Russian Airlines on their services and flight connections to Sri Lanka.

30 travel representatives were present at the event. The Q&A session provided a good platform to share information as well as to make clarifications with respect to Sri Lanka on recent travel safety updates issued by the Sri Lanka Tourism. The session was very interactive which ended with a quiz. Two Economy class tickets from Aeroflot as well as two nights stay in a selected hotel from WebBeds were offered as the prize to the Winner. The event concluded with a cocktail reception.

Source :–with-Aeroflot-Russian-Airlines/27-668457

Sri Lanka at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens

Sri Lanka’s Consul General in Dubai and Northern Emirates Charitha Yattegoda at the Sri Lanka stall

Now in its 49th year, the largest event on record, the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens saw over 100,000 fans walk through the gates during the three-day festival and enjoy 28 international teams in action in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.

Ardent spectators watched over 300 rugby teams battle it out for the coveted Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby trophy. There were many activities for the spectators to get involved both on and off pitch, including entertainment, a great family experience and a rugby village which keeps getting bigger and better every year.

Sri Lanka’s Consul General in Dubai and Northern Emirates Charitha Yattegoda graced the Sri Lanka stall which was designed around the concept of the new destination slogan ‘So Sri Lanka’. Sri Lanka Tourism was represented by Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Assistant Director Ajantha Rathnayake. The Sri Lanka Tourism hoarding and stall attracted many spectators who had come to watch the matches. Several travel related inquires about the destination was received at this stall to which the Promotion Bureau was able to respond positively.

Interested visitors at the Sri Lanka stall

The Sri Lanka stall at the Rugby Sevens

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SL Railways commences special holiday train services

Sri Lanka Railways has commenced special train services to facilitate travellers during school vacation.

It said that the special train services on the main line will be operated until 5 January 2019.

Having begun the services yesterday, the special train will leave Colombo to Badulla at 7.30 a.m. It is scheduled to reach Badulla at 5 p.m.

Another special train will leave from Badulla to Colombo Fort at 9.30 a.m. It will reach Colombo Fort at 7.20 p.m.

Source :–special-holiday-train-services/56-668436

British film location managers scout for scenic spots

Reputed British film location experts including the location manager for the famous television series Game of Thrones recently visited Sri Lanka looking for the most scenic places for their next ventures.
Safari ride at Yala
The 8-member British team was part of lucrative location familiarisation tour of Sri Lanka organized and hosted by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB). The tour came on the heels of a successful networking event the Bureau took part in during the FOCUS 2017 in UK, according to an SLTPB media release.

The location managers include David Pinnington who was the supervising and location manager for Spiderman ( Far from home), Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy and X- men First Class to name a few. Camilia Stephens was the supervising and location manager for Hollywood blockbusters like Les Miserables, the King’s speech and Snowman. Mr. Pinnington also took part in a B2B session where he and other location managers met with members of the local film fraternity to discuss ways in which Sri Lanka can be promoted as a prime film destination.

“As a film destination, Sri Lanka is very impressive and its locations are easily accessible. I thought that the locations were great. I was impressed with the ‘’ Lion Rock’’. (Sigiriya) and the aerial view which was stunning,” said Mr. Pinnington.

Another member of the delegation was Mick Ratman who is a member of BAFTA ( British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and the past chair of the Guild of Location managers which he served for nearly 10 years. He lent his expertise to find the perfect set for movies such as The Flag, Welcome to Sarajevo and Shivaree: john 2/14.

“It was important to meet the local production companies. They seem very capable and experienced, which is good. As a film destination, Sri Lanka is an excellent choice. But to see the development of film tourism, we need to make a change with the help of the government. During the tour I saw interesting locations. I loved the east coast because the beach was better. Colombo is an amazing city though the traffic is terrible,” said Mr. Ratman.

Among the group is also Martin Walker, whose notable works include X- Men: First Class, The Mummy Returns, Kingsman: The Secret Service and Paddington 2. Benjamin Ian Macgregor was the location manager for the movie like Blitz- star by Jason Statham, RocknRolla, Driving Lessons and Tom & Issy.

Eduardo Rodrigalvarez is a location manager who is also part of the Location Managers Guild International, production Guild of Great Britain and Film London. He was part of Breaking the Bank and Housefull 3. Shona Smith on the other hand is the UK Online Magazine dedicated to the British Film industry.

Veteran film maker Chandran Rutnam who was also present at this B2B meeting held at the Hilton felt that meeting these location managers and having them in Sri Lanka was a massive boost to tourism locally.

“I think this was very well organised and was a timely event, after the end of war, we have not pushed our country as a film location. Some of the biggest movies in the world have been shot here. I think having the location managers from the UK is a successful endeavour done well. It will provide us much more business because films will be shot here once they get back home. This will entice other producers to come down and consider creating films in Sri Lanka in future. I want to congratulate the SLTPB and the organisers for doing this. I think we should do this annually,” said Mr. Rutnam.

The film location managers were in the country from November 14-21. They were taken on a tour of Colombo with a glimpse into the urban life, lesser known attractions and mountainous ranges such as Knuckles range. They also toured Minneriya National Park, Sigiriya, Dutch Fort and the southern coastal belt.