Posts Tagged ‘Sri Lanka Tourism’

Bigwigs to show tourism’s way forward

Minister John Amaratunga to appoint top personalities to Advisory Committee under Tourism Act


Several prominent persons in the leisure industry are to be appointed to the Tourism Advisory Board this week, the Daily FT learns.
The appointment to the Advisory Committee by Tourism Minister John Amaratunga is in line with Tourism Act No. 38 of 2005 under Section 32 to advise the Minister on any matters in relation to the travel and tourism industry.
Among top persons to be appointed are business tycoon and Aitken Spence Chairman Harry Jayawardena, John Keells Holdings Deputy Chairman Ajit Gunewardene, Carson Cumberbatch Director Hari Selvanathan, Hemas Holdings Director Abbas Esufally, Galle Face Hotel Group Chairman Sanjeev Gardiner, Jetwing Travels Managing Director Shiromal Cooray, industry veteran Udaya Nanayakkara, Dilmah Founder Merrill J Fernando, Brandix CEO Ashroff Omar, and ex-Unilever Ceylon Chairman Amal Cabral.
Chairmen of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Paddy Withana, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Dr. Rohantha Athukorala and SriLankan Ajith Dias will serve the Advisory Board in Ex-Officio capacity.
The selection of persons for the Advisory Committee is to ensure the tourism sector gets leading industry expertise as well from outside from those who have proven success in branding and global business success.

Via right expertise and policies, the new Minister Amaratunga is keen to develop the tourism industry on a more sustainable basis and draw a greater number of high-spending tourists.
As per the Act, the Minister can appoint not less than five and not more than 11 persons who possess wide experience and qualifications in relation to global travel, tourism and related industries, to the Advisory Committee.
It will be the duty of the Advisory Committee to tender advice on the future direction and strategy of the tourist and travel industry and make its recommendations thereon.
In September Sri Lanka enjoyed the highest tourist arrivals growth so far this year, propelling the cumulative figure to over 1.3 million.
As per data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, arrivals in September amounted to 143,374, up by 36%, the highest year-on-year growth so far this year. The previous best was in July, which produced a 31% growth to record an arrivals figure of 175,804.
With the September haul, tourist arrivals in the first nine months were 1.315 million, up by 17% from the corresponding period of last year.
Sri Lanka exceeded its target of 1.5 million tourist arrivals last year and earned $ 2.206 billion from tourism. The Tourism Authority has set a target of two million tourist arrivals this year and 2.5 million by 2016.
According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, tourism receipts by end September reached $ 2.1 billion.
As per the Act, the Minister may give special or general directions in writing as to the performance of the duties and the exercise of the powers of the Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Committee shall give effect to such directions.
The Tourism Development Authority may forward any matter to the Advisory Committee for its advice and the Advisory Committee shall forward its advice within the shortest possible period.
The term of office of the members of the Advisory Committee shall be three years, provided that a member appointed in place of a member who resigns or otherwise vacates office shall hold office for the unexpired part of the term of office of the member whom he succeeds.
The Advisory Committee may with the approval of the Minister appoint such officers or servants to assist the Advisory Committee in carrying out its duties under the Act.



BOC finances Softlogic’s luxury tourist buses


Official handover of the two luxury tourist passenger buses by Softlogic Automobiles to Viluxur Tourism at the Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo, on Wednesday. – Pic by Kanishka Hewage

by Sanath Nanayakkare

As we are encouraged by the strong growth prospects of the Sri Lankan tourism industry, we feel that we have to back the tourism industry whenever we can. When such support is sought by a reliable customer like Softlogic Automobiles which has a proven profitable business record, we feel highly confident to back the financing of such projects, , Ms. D.G. Madurapala- Area General Manager-Bank of Ceylon told the Island Financial review on Wednesday.

Ms. Madurapala said so at an event held at the Kingsbury, Colombo where Softlogic Automobiles (Pvt) Ltd, the sole distributor and marketer of the all-new King Long range of passenger transport vehicles handed over two brand new luxury vehicles to Viluxur Tourism (Pvt) Ltd.

“The current tourist arrivals and potential growth figures are encouraging and the bank feels confident enough to finance the two Luxury King Long Buses to be used for inland passenger services which will cater to the luxury tourism market. We need to help the tourism industry to meet the growing demand for inland travel by the sophisticated segment of the tourists visiting the country, Ms. Madurapala added.

The two specifically customized buses include luxury interior, in built televisions, DVD players, refrigerator and a PA system.

Shehan de Tissera- Head of Operations of Softlogic Automobiles (Pvt) Ltd. said, “Softlogic Automobiles has gradually diversified to become a complete transport solutions provider in Sri Lanka. Our internationally-trained technical team will provide mechanical repair and servicing, accident repairs and body shop repairs, taking care of our valued customers. King Long, together with Softlogic, pay close attention to changes in user requirements as well as the industry trends and will continue to innovate through leading technology resulting in a quality product”.

Viluxur Tourism (Pte) Ltd. is a leader in inbound travel in China and Maldives, with a strong local presence, the company offer unparallel services to the luxury tourism market with a truly international team.

Cammy Gunasekare, Director- Viluxur Tourism (Pvt) Ltd., said,”” Softlogic Automobiles came up with a solution through the brand King Long and it was exactly what we were looking for. We are delighted about the meticulous attention, the quality of the end product and confident about the excellent service that Softlogic portrayed with professionalism throughout the whole process”.

Softlogic Automobiles (Pvt) Ltd. is one of the premier automobile companies in Sri Lanka and a subsidiary of Softlogic Holdings PLC.


Waters Edge partners with Simplifly Helicopters for tourism and corporate flights


Civilian helicopters have been cleared to land at the Waters Edge complex in Battaramulla, do-mestic helicopter operator Simplifly said yesterday in details released by the company to the media.

According to airline officials, a dedicated helipad will soon be constructed in the near future, and until such time helicopters will be landing on a designated space adjacent to the existing seaplane dock used by airlines including a seaplane operated by Simplifly.

While the government had earlier allowed seaplanes to operate to Waters Edge, security and other concerns had delayed the granting of approval for helicopters until a recent review of the situation by relevant officials, the airline spokesman added.

“We have been flying an amphibian aircraft on behalf of a corporate client to Waters Edge for some years now, so it’s very welcome that our helicopter will also be able to serve the same destination. Waters Edge is the only star class attraction in our capital city of Sri Jayawardenapura, and we are delighted to have been appointed as their official helicopter service provider”, said Ishan-Munaweera, Head of Sales and Business Development for Millennium Airlines, the owning com-pany behind Simplifly.

The area is also seeing a boom in residential living and apartment developments, which in turn en-courages leisure and corporate travel from the area, Munaweera added.

Simplifly already operates a city helipad in Colombo at the Colts Cricket Club on Havelock Road, and it is expected that the addition of a second urban helipad will further boost air transfers to and from the city for the airline, which has a fleet of 6 aircraft including amphibian aircraft and trainers and has carried over 27,000 passengers to all parts of Sri Lanka. Previously, passengers departing from Colombo had to take off from Colts grounds or Ratmalana airport.

Sources close to the aviation industry revealed that civilian helicopter operators led by well-established airlines like Simplifly are also making the case for a helipad in close proximity to down-town Colombo, similar to those in operation in New York, Mumbai and London. “The time is coming when helicopters will be operating right in the heart of the city, with due consideration for security and safety requirements”

“I would like to thank all the officials at the Ministry of Defence& Urban Development, Sri Lanka Air Force for their guidance co-operation to make this a reality. I would like to also thank and mention the lead taken by Mr. Rohan Ferdandopulle, GM of Waters Edge and Thilanka (add last name), (add title) of Waters Edge for their unstinting support, under the guidance of the Chairman, Urban Development Authority”, said Suren Mirchandani,Founder of the airline.

After starting the airline in 2004 with Indian expertise, Mirchandani has since parted ways with his Indian partners and the airline today is a joint venture with Singapore based Millennium Investment Holdings, a diversified conglomerate with interests in the banking, automotive and telecom sectors worldwide.


Role of tourism in the development process


Sri Lanka has been a tourism destination since colonial era, due to its natural beauty and heritage. Being an Island, Sri Lanka is blessed with wonderful coastal belt that is capable of attracting tourists into the country. Tourism industry is a rapidly growing industry in the country, mainly because of the peaceful environment. Tourism is now the fourth highest foreign exchange earner to the country and it is slowly moving to the third place.

Amila Muthukutti

Currently several top global hoteliers are investing in the industry, so that country can become one of the most popular destinations in the world. Policies ought to be drafted to upgrade six environments, so that Tourism can play a major role in the development process.

It is needless to say that a country should have peace and political stability, so that it can attract more and more tourists into country. Because of the eradication of terrorism, the industry grew by 39.8% in 2010 over 2009.

However, just because there is no war anymore, does not mean that the country is peaceful.

Crimes against tourists in the country had a bad impact on the tourism industry.

Not only tourists but also foreign investors are required to develop the industry. Accordingly, peace and secure political environment can ensure a great pleasure and security for tourists and also profits and safe business for investors.

Sri Lanka exceeded its target of 1.5 million tourist arrivals last year and earned 2.2 billion US dollars from tourism. Hence, political environment must be favorable for promoting tourism.

Tourism industry is one of the fast emerging industries in Sri Lanka, creating more and more employment opportunities in the economy. As many foreign tourists come into this Island to spend their holidays more cheaply, they are concerned about some economic factors such as inflation.

Furthermore, because tourism-related FDIs play a key role in developing infrastructure facilities in the tourism industry, economic environment has to be conducive for investments.

Tax holidays and concessions can encourage investors in the industry. Creating opportunities to promote shopping of internationally reputed branded products and entertainment can pave the way for tourism friendly economic environment.

It can be seen that local socio cultural environment always clashes with tourist behavior. The domestic culture can be vulnerable, due to the higher tourist arrivals. However, foreigners are reluctant to restrict themselves into domestic cultural barriers.

They should have freedom to enjoy, during their stay in the country. As Sri Lankan society has been familiar with hospitality, country has a comparative advantage in the industry.

On the other hand, the country should promote eco-tourism, allowing foreigners to enjoy with the local culture. Domestic socio cultural environment should be a blessing in disguise rather than a barrier to promote Sri Lankan tourism industry.

Technological environment

This is the era of information technology. Therefore, it ought to be used to promote tourism in the world. Now, information technology is being used for a variety of functions in the tourism industry, ranging from an internal organization role to external communication between different parts of the industry.

There should be a technological mechanism whereby country can enlighten foreigners directly, reducing the dependency on foreign media, foreign tour operators that may make visiting Sri Lanka more complex and costlier. Hence, Sri Lanka should not hesitate to use information technology for promoting tourism industry.

Natural environment

The most valuable asset which Sri Lanka has to promote tourism industry is its natural resources. Sri Lankan, being an Island, has sufficient natural resources to attract tourists. The usage of natural resources in tourism must be sustainable. For instance, if coastal waters become polluted by hotel waste water discharge, tourists will go elsewhere.

Policies ought to be drafted to protect the natural resources against threats, especially threats from hotel industry itself. Wild life sanctuaries and coral reefs have to be safeguarded.

Marketing environment

Tourism is the marketable service. Proper marketing network should be implemented, so that country can attract high spending tourists. In the past two months of 2015 tourist arrivals were up to 11.6%.

Sri Lankan tourist market has been mainly China, India and European countries. Country must focus on Latin American region which can be considered a possible market for Sri Lankan tourism.

Having considered above-mentioned six environments, policies have to be drafted. Sri Lanka now experiences a period of time when tourism can be promoted unprecedentedly.(The writer holds a BA in Economics from the University of Colombo)


SriLankan Airlines clarifies

In response to media articles published on SriLankan Airlines’ alleged lapses in safety, the Airline wishes to clarify and place on record the following:

The Airline has a Safety Management System, part of which is flight data monitoring on a continuous basis through the digital flight data that is received from the aircraft. This is used to identify any event that exceeds the pre-set profiles of the flight and is flagged as a deviation. Pre-set profiles are applicable to a particular aircraft type and sector and are in line with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the Airline.

The Flight Safety Section of the Airline monitors these trends on a continuous basis and identifies any deviations which are safety critical. In this process the Airline confirmed that it had not found any instances which exceeded the pre- set profiles which were safety critical nor any evidence of instances of Flight Crew deactivating certain functional and vital flight instruments/engines/systems in flights (including the IRS)  engaged in commercial passenger operations with a view to getting an opportunity to practising certain abnormal and emergency conditions, as mentioned in the Article  and as mentioned in quoted letter of Director General of Civil Aviation.

However, there was in fact a case of an inflight turn back due to suspected engine high vibration. As the pilot’s occurrence report had not given sufficient details to identify the root cause of the said vibration SriLankan Engineering requested Airbus Industries for an in depth report of the Digital Flight Data Recordings (DFDR) pertaining to that particular flight.  As per the report, the Airline found that the Flight Crew which operated that particular flight had deviated from the SOP’s of the Company. Immediately, the Airline appointed a panel of inquiry consisting of the most senior instructor pilots, which,  after due inquiry found that the Flight Crew had violated SOPs of the Company but not to the effect of simulating conditions with passengers on board as stated in the Article.  The Company based on the findings of the Inquiring Panel has taken appropriate action vis – a – vis the Fight Crew to address such violation.

SriLankan Airlines has an unblemished safety record and its crews have been trained in keeping with the highest international standards which have been recognised as such by the regular inspections and audits conducted both by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka and other international institutions such as International  Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). The last such IOSA audit was conducted in December 2014 at which the Airline was re-certified.

With regard to the other incident mentioned, SriLankan hereby refers to the entry logged in the Captain’s Report where the Captain, upon his return to the cockpit had found the door being opened manually by the first officer who has gotten up from her seat. The captain has de-briefed her thoroughly of the seriousness of the event and it was acknowledged by her. And the matter was handled then and there and closed.

SriLankan wishes to reaffirm that the Airline and its flight crew, at no point, had compromised on the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.- SriLankan Airlines


Sri Lanka tourism urged to go for new branding


By Harischandra Gunaratna

A veteran and one of the most successful hoteliers, tour operators and travel agents from the Maldives with a considerable stake in the hospitality industry in Sri Lanka and elsewhere yesterday told The Island Financial Review that there was a dire need for Sri Lanka’s tourism product to re-position itself and go for new branding if the country was to become one of the top destinations in Asia.

Sri Lanka had been stagnating as a destination for sometime though there had been much rhetoric and bragging by the officials, he added.

“The trend and demands in the tourism industry have changed drastically and we have to gear ourselves to meet them with a new approach. We cannot solely depend on trade markets, but go beyond , the veteran said under condition of anonymity.

‘It is sine-qua-non that the stakeholders, including the tourism authorities change their mindset and give the much needed facelift to the industry, discarding the hackneyed philosophies by introducing new concepts and following new trends, he pointed out.

The seasoned campaigner in the tourism industry on a brief visit to

Colombo said that the scope is unlimited for Sri Lanka and it should explore new markets with a desire and will without depending on traditional markets only.

“Sri Lanka should explore the oil rich countries in Central Asia where high spending holidaymakers are looking for new destinations and the country fits the bill.It should act fast, he advised.

The veteran opined that “Sri Lanka’s national carrier should introduce direct flights to Central Asia and Africa and the tourism authorities should conduct aggressive promotions in wooing the the holidaymakers from those markets. On the other hand, Colombo could easily become a hub for traffic from those countries visiting here and moving to other destinations if properly marketed.

‘There are several hitherto untapped niche markets and one is ‘tea tourism’. If properly marketed the benefits could be immense as there is a ready demand for it. For some reason those at the helm in the past had ignored this niche segment and those handling tourism promotions at present should take cognizance of the fact that it is a gold mine and the country has all the ingredients needed to sustain this segment of the market and start promoting it without delay.

“Ceylon Tea is known the world over and why not the tourism authorities capitalise on that,” he asked.

‘No one can tell the outside world about Sri Lanka than Sri Lankans themselves and the country could achieve its goal easily with qualified ,experienced,non- poiltical persons at the helm, he said


The Galle Face Hotel’s architectural resonance ready to begin a new chapter in its history


South Asia’s leading Grande Dame, The Galle Face Hotel is testimony to both Sri Lanka’s colonial past and its independent present. An icon in the hospitality world, it blends historical architectural splendor with crafted modernity to form a new model for heritage properties.

Restoring Galle Face Hotel to its former glory through leveraging its exceptional architectural resonance will commence a new chapter in its history. The entire North Wing, formerly known as the ‘Classic Wing’ of the hotel has undergone a two year restoration in which significant changes to the structure and service facilities have been carried out. Maintaining the Hotel’s original architectural and historical value has been foremost in the Owner’s mind.

The North Wing, its roomsand restaurants have all been remodeled, refurbished and upgraded with added luxury to deliver seamless service.While blending with the culture and heritage of the country, the hotel has also been modernized to keep up with global service standards.

The Hotel is intrinsically linked to the history and heritage of Sri Lanka and the project is guided by an uncompromising commitment to preserve the unique ambience for guests to enjoy. The Hotel has invested heavily on staff training and back of house refurbishment to increase service standards to ensure our internationally acclaimed world-class hospitality. Sophisticated travelers from all walks who enjoy the finer things in life, seek out the most exclusive and memorable experiences. Each trip is approached as an opportunity to seek out atypical destinations, to discover somewhere new with singular charm, distinct traditions and stories. To this end, the Hotel is working hard to achieve so much more than just delivering a normal hotel experience.

As part of the restoration the entire front façade of the hotel has been completely revamped to restore it to its former glory and is modeled on its original design reflecting its unique style of timeless architecture for which the hotel was renowned in its early years. The interior of the wing has also been similarly restored to its former glory including the Sea Spray Restaurant, Executive Lounge, Verandah Restaurant and barand The Grand Ballroom, Jubilee Room, Conservatory and Reception. In addition the Galle Face Hotel will have an internationally acclaimed stand-alone restaurant, renowned for its strong concept, impeccable service and outstanding dishes.

All rooms and suites too have undergone a significant facelift to reflect all of the old world charm that the Galle Face Hotel is internationally renowned for, while blending all necessary modern amenities for the comfort and luxury of the most perceptive traveler. All furnishings and facilities in the roomshave been tastefully designed to reflect traditional values whilst maintaining a balance of modernity.

All team members have been intensively trained to give a professional guest experienceand are given the opportunity to learn in depth about the hotels history in order to use that knowledge to offer superior customer service, adding value to the hotel experience.