Posts Tagged ‘Travel Sri Lanka’

Sri Lanka’s travel trade veterans reminisce the halcyon days


Veterans Ravi Dias Jayasinha (left) and Omar Nawaz at the FITUR in Madrid

By Harischandra Gunaratna

Veteran Sri Lankan tour opetator and president and CEO, Gateway in Milan ,Italy, Ravi Dias Jayasinha expressed confidence that Sri Lanka’s tourism industry would do well with the introduction of professionals, with a wealth of experience, as done by the new government.

“The key is awareness and we need to market our product to the world after identifying the needs of the prospective visitors, he said.

Jayasinha, a pioneer in Sri Lankas’ tourism industry said that Tourism Minister Naveen Dissanayake had taken a step in the right direction in filling key posts in Sri Lanka Tourism with those with a proven track record and experience and added that Paddy Vithane, the new chairman, is a tourism professional with many years under his belt in the hospitality industry and the Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, Rohantha Athukorale, a young marketing professional, who should be able to take our tourism product to the world with ease.

“Sri Lankan tourism professionals living overseas would rally round to support efforts by the new team to promote Sri Lanka as a top destination to the world, the veteran assured.

Jayasinha recently had discussions with Project Research Coordinator for the Regional Programme for Asia and the Pacific of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Omar Nawaz, at the FITUR, the premier travel fair in Madrid, Spain.

Reminiscing the old times, Omar who was in-charge of the Sri Lanka ( then  Ceylon) Tourist Board’s office in Paris, for over three decades, regretted the absence of Sri Lanka at FITUR. For many years, dating from the 1970s, Sri Lanka was a regular exhibitor at the fair which commenced with the initiatives of  Sam Samaradivakara, the charismatic Director of the  Tourist Board’s European office in Frankfurt.

The continuous presence of Sri Lanka at FITUR since the early seventies  had been terminated about three years ago. Omar recounted an interesting anecdote of one of his first experiences at FITUR. The Sri Lanka stand was staffed by Omar and  Shelton de Alwis, who was Samaradivakara’s assistant in the Frankfurt office. The  10 sq mt little stand  had been decorated with traditional Sri Lankan Batik hangings. After the official inauguration the King and Queen (H.H.Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia) had  paid a courtesy call on the various exhibitors and  visiting the Sri Lanka stand, the Queen was mesmerised by the the Batiks produced by Sri Lankan artistes; she remarked about its beauty. Another tourism veteran Shelton de Alwis had the presence of mind to present some Batiks on display to the queen. It had been splashed in the media in Spain with Sri Lanka receiving wide coverage at a minimal price. Omar still regrets a call of nature making him momentarily absent from the stand at that critical moment…..

Working at the UNWTO Omar paid tribute to the other Sri Lankans who had worked in the organization in the past,  such as Mano Handy and H.M.S. Samaranayake  who are in retirement in Sri Lanka and said it was vital that the government makes use of their experience and expertise in rebuilding tourism in the country.



Emirates unveils Emirates Arena

Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, has announced a major sponsorship deal that includes a multi-million pound sponsorship with Glasgow City Council. As part of the agreement, Emirates now holds the exclusive naming rights for the city’s new world-class sports facility, the ‘Emirates Arena’.

The ten-year partnership will enable the airline to strengthen its presence in Glasgow with prominent branding on and throughout the Emirates Arena, highlighting a long-term investment in Glasgow and giving the venue an internationally recognised brand name.

“As a truly global airline, we are committed to connecting people and cultures and this new sponsorship in Glasgow is a true reflection of this commitment. We sponsor a number of the world’s most prominent international sporting and cultural events and this multi-million pound agreement will not only help to inject significant funds into the Glasgow economy, but will also highlight Glasgow’s place on the international sporting stage,” said Emirates’ Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Europe Richard Jewsbury.

The £113million Emirates Arena will open its doors for the first time on Friday, October 5 and in its first four months of operation, will play host to eight Scottish, European and world level sporting events. As well as creating an all-round sport and community facility available to professionals and locals alike, this deal has secured employment for over 500 people during construction.

Emirates has a long history of supporting sport both in the UK and worldwide, including The International Cricket Council, the FIFA World Cup, the 2012 Ryder Cup and the Arsenal Football team at the Emirates Stadium in London.

“This is a fantastic deal for the people of Glasgow,” said Leader of Glasgow City Council Gordon Matheson. “Many of the world’s top sports venues already enjoy the considerable benefits and prestige secured through a naming rights agreement and this partnership with Emirates puts us firmly in that elite group.

“The Emirates Arena is a truly world-class venue that will host a genuinely world-class sporting events programme. This partnership will bring that venue and global brand together and it will be the people of Glasgow who will reap the benefits. Over the next 10 years, this multi-million pound deal will leave a lasting legacy.

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Aitken Spence bags top travel awards

Only travel company in Sri Lanka to enter the Hall of Fame, Aitken Spence Travels won the awards for the Best Tour Operator Emerging Market and Best Conference Organiser at the Fifth Sri Lanka Tourism Awards. The company’s first employee and also a past Chairman of Aitken Spence PLC Prema Cooray were recognised with a Legend award.

Having won the award for the Best Tour Operator in Sri Lanka in the first three years, Aitken Spence was the only travel company so far to enter the Awards Hall of Fame.

(Aitken Spence Travels senior management team with the top travel awards.)

Being a futuristic company, it has already thought of the future and has aligned with its joint venture partner TUI Travel PLC to cater to all important segments of the market. TUI Travel PLC is the largest integrated leisure company in the world.

They own over 150 aircraft, 3,500 retail shops in Europe, market leading tour operators in main tourist generating countries and is the leader in online services in tourism.

They are also the leader in cruise handling and operate its own cruise line Hapag Lloyd. TUI is the No. One Leisure hotelier in Europe with nine brands.

In order to consolidate its market leadership position Aitken Spence Travels is now a part of the umbrella brand Worldcome which will further enhance its marketing capability worldwide.

With regards to the important and fast growing online segment Aitken Spence Travels has teamed up with Hotelbeds to procure services in Sri Lanka. Aitken Spence Travels is already a member of Intercruises the world’s largest network providing shore excursions to cruise operators. They are currently in negotiations with the leading international brand Pacificworld serving the MICE segment to increase their foothold in the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions segment. In Adventure Travel, they are in discussions with Purequest brand developed within the TUI group to cater to Adventure Travel.

Commenting on the accolades received, Gehan M. Perera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels and Director of Aitken Spence PLC attributes the remarkable achievements to the exceptional team at Aitken Spence who continue to rise above themselves and out-perform the market consistently.

“Such achievements and to retain market leadership position for such long period is only possible if we continue to work as a well-knit team, to offer outstanding value and service to our customers and principals.”

“We are indeed grateful to all our hotel partners and suppliers in Sri Lanka as well as all our overseas tour operators who have supported us throughout our long journey. Whilst acknowledging this honour with humility, we will re-dedicate ourselves to support our partners even more and exceed our customer’s expectations, whilst expanding our operations with the new initiatives taken by the company to operate on an international platform.”


Heritance Ahungalla Provides ‘Service with Care’

Located along the golden stretch of Ahungalla, Heritance Ahungalla is a five-star luxury hotel designed by the legendary Geoffrey Bawa. Comprising of 152 rooms on a 15 acre property, Heritance Ahungalla is complete with themed and buffet restaurants, spa facilities and an infinity pool, set on a picturesque beach front location.

Come the summer holiday season, in promoting Sri Lanka as a destination, Heritance Ahungalla also promotes several offers and activities to please the influx of foreign and local guests. Heritance Ahungalla welcomes families – one and all – with activities for kids, teenagers and parents.

Kids holidaying at Heritance Ahungalla can take part in sand castle building, kite making, drawing and art and fancy dress competitions and win exciting prizes. Generally held on Saturdays and Sundays, these programmes will be held every day during this holiday season. Other activities at the Kiddies Club include video games, a kiddies magic show, face painting, musical chairs, horse riding, water sports and a kiddies disco (held from 5-6.30pm). The kids are also treated to special kiddies menus and buffet corners, during lunch and dinner times.

‘Our dedicated team of animators care for the kids from the time they eat breakfast, until the day is done, providing parents with ample time to relax and unwind at the hotel’ commented Refhan Razeen, the General Manager of Heritance Ahungalla.

Teens and young adults at the Hotel also have a range of activities to choose from – from water volleyball and beach cricket, to evening movie times and work-outs at the Hotel’s gymnasium.

Adults holidaying at the hotel are also treated to many recreational activities. Commencing with water aerobics at 11am, to beach volleyball games, beach rugby and beach football, everyone is guaranteed to have a good time at Heritance Ahungalla. Parents, especially, can put their worries to rest and enjoy extreme relaxation, complete with spa treatments and morning walks/stretching on the beach, while their children enjoy their holiday with trained children’s animators.

The whole family can come together, on request, to enjoy a ‘Heart of the House’ hotel tour – a comprehensive tour, demonstrating the inner workings of the hotel, also including a visit to the Hotel’s famed chocolate factory. The chocolate factory is a speciality of the Hotel, and manufactures over 20 varieties of handmade chocolates, in addition marketing gift boxes to present to loved ones.

The recent recipient of the Sri Lanka Tourism award for the Best 5 – Star

Resort in the island, Heritance Ahungalla has now emerged as the Best Hotel Team and Best Culinary Team in Sri Lanka, after competing against both international and domestic star class hotels at the 14th Culinary Art Competition held from the 29th to the 1st of August, 2011.

The Hotel takes pride in its celebrity chef, Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe, winner of 5 Culinary Olympic gold medals and 4 Culinary World Cup medals, who hopes to compete at 2012’s Culinary World Cup to be held in October as well.

All in all, according to Razeen, for Heritance Ahungalla employees it is more than just a service, it’s about ‘caring’. “We provide ‘service with care’ and an experience to take home,” he added.


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