Friday, 17 September 2010
The country is to benefit from the introduction of charter flights linking it to European destinations.
Flight will initially be operating on weekly basis and will soon become more regular, confirmed Jean Deboutte, ambassador of Belgium to Sri Lanka.
European tourists will be able to take advantage of this new route from the end of October and will no doubt head to the country in hordes to enjoy the natural beauty and thrilling activities offered by Sri Lanka.
In recent times, the island-nation has received a lot of attention from foreign investors after civil strife was resolved in 2009.
The United Nations Word Tourism Organisation recently published findings revealing a surge in international travel. With Asia leading the way, Sri Lanka came out first in the list of countries pushing this growth further.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
The most encouraging sign was from Western European tourists who showed a 46 percent boost while UK and German arrivals saw a 43 percent rise. France increased to 74 percent to 2,925. This is very impressive since this is the off season.
For the first time a group of 25 tourists from USA arrived in Sri Lanka though an initiative launched by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington last month and this trend is expected to continue.
One of the main reasons for the increase of European arrivals is the lifting of adverse travel advisories imposed against Sri Lanka due to the war, which ended last year. South Asian visitors grew 15 percent.
Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa predicted that this year, tourist arrivals and revenue will hit an all time record.
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Sri Lanka's Aitken Spence and John Keells Holdings had long relied on their Maldivian resorts to compensate for lower earnings or losses in their local hotels during the island's ethnic war.
But earnings from Maldivian hotels were hit last year owing to global recession which reduced arrivals from the main market in Western Europe.
Although arrivals from Europe are likely to be affected in the short to medium term by the region's economic woes, CT Smith Stockbrokers said in a report they expect this to be mitigated by increased arrivals from Asia, especially China.
In July 2010, Maldivian resort occupancy rose to 65.9 percent from 58.4 percent in July 2009, albeit off a low base.
"Capacity in the Maldives is also expanding, as international hotel chains and the government have plans to open more resorts and hotels in the archipelago," CT Smith Stockbrokers said.
Registered average resort bed capacity in the Maldives rose to 21,040 beds as at July 2010 from 20,514 beds as at July 2009.
"Thus average room rates could possibly become constrained due to likely increased room supply in the Maldives in the longer term," the brokers said.
Although tourists from Western Europe still dominate arrivals in the Maldives, new markets such as China and Russia have been growing fast in recent years.
Tourists arrivals in the Maldives rose 29 percent to 57, 232 in July 2010 from a year ago, the highest ever July arrivals in the archipelago.
This was the tenth consecutive year-on-year monthly rise in arrivals, once again bolstered by arrivals from China, CT Smith Stockbrokers said.
China was the highest tourism generating market to the Maldives in July 2010 with a 22 percent market share followed by the United Kingdom with 16 percent.
China is the second highest tourism market to the archipelago so far this year with a 14.2 percent market share preceded only by the UK with a market share of 14.8 percent.
Monday, 6 September 2010
Since the end of the war late last year, investment and tourism-related revenue has been steadily increasing. The Board of Investment (BOI) in Sri Lanka is enabling growth in many aspects. One example of this attractive new investment arena can be seen in the benefits on offer to investors who set up a BOI company, which requires US$500,000 of initial investment in the country. The company is then entitled to a lengthy tax free period of operation and duty free imports on machinery and building materials, in addition to residency options for the directors of the company.
According to the latest figures from the government’s tourism board, visitor arrivals rose just over 31 per cent to 50,757 in January 2010, with the majority arriving from Western Europe. Interestingly, tourists visiting from South Asia were up around 44 percent to 12,500 in January 2010. Economic growth has exceeded all expectations at 7 percent and with an increase in the number of large projects coming on board in the next one to two years, Sri Lanka, and in particular, the East Coast is set to benefit enormously from this activity.
Saturday, 4 September 2010
According to Dr Nalaka Godahewa, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism, the tendering process for leasing out identified lands in these 12 islands will begin within a month’s time. The lease period will be for 35 years and further enhancement will be considered depending on the volume of investment that comes in.
Godahewa mentioned that Sri Lanka Tourism is in the process of identifying more locations for developing tourism infrastructure, including hotels, resorts, convention centres, entertainment centres, marinas, etc. in the island nation. He informed that interests of investors will be fully protected in Sri Lanka. “We can think of separate tax holidays for investments amounting to more than USD 500, 000,” added Godahewa. When asked about his expectation in terms of Indian investments, he said that Sri Lanka Tourism expects between USD 300 and USD 400 million from Indian investors.
Sri Lanka Tourism has set a target of 2.5 million foreign tourist arrivals by 2015. “We need to have around 30,000 more hotel rooms to achieve the target growth. We have achieved a growth of more than 40 per cent in arrival numbers in the first half of the current year and hope to achieve the target of 2.5 million before 2015,” said Godahewa.
When asked about the infrastructure development of North and East of the country, Godahewa said that they are virgin territories as far as tourism development was concerned. He said that land for two beach resorts and two island resorts have already been identified in these areas and more locations will be identified in the coming months.
For all kinds of investments in the tourism segment, the Sri Lankan government has empowered Sri Lanka Tourism Board as the ‘single window clearance’ body.
The tour finished with high tea and a press conference at the renowned Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, capping a 10-day adventure that included beach-side resorts, wild animal parks, a ramble through the lush, high-country tea plantations and visits to historical heritage sites.
The tour, which was arranged by the Sri Lanka Embassy of Washington, D.C., began on 9 August, 2010 and ran through the 28th August 2010.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya said that the American travelers would return to the U.S. with a new understanding of Sri Lanka. "They will be like tourism ambassadors volunteering for Sri Lanka," Ambassador Wickramasuriya said. "Each one of them has many friends and professional colleagues -- including travel writers -- back in the U.S. They will tell them about the trip and expand the size of our next Signature Tour."
Ambassador Wickramasuriya said the tour series was developed on the initiative of the Hon. Minister of Economic development, Basil Rajapaksa whose objective was to promote tourism through respective foreign embassies and missions.
The Ambassador also noted the work of Mr. Sanjaya Hettihewa, president of the International Club in Washington, D.C. and a Sri Lanka native, for his contribution to the tour. The Travel Club has over 40,000 members and works closely with foreign embassies to conduct programs and stage events in their countries.
"What they really saw is how safe it is to travel," said Mr. Hettihewa of his tour group. "We covered more of Sri Lanka in 10 days than I saw in the 14 years that I lived in Sri Lanka."
In addition, the press briefing included remarks by the chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa.
The tour itself drew rave reviews from participants, most of whom are professionals and business people and members of the International Club.
Mr. William Bowling, a Hollywood film location specialist and former executive at Warner Brothers Studios, said that Sri Lanka was one of the best of the 88 countries he has visited. (Mr. Bowling made a special visit to the Ran mini thenna film village in Hambantota and said that he was impressed by the complex).
Another traveler, Christopher Wang, a U.S. Department of Justice attorney, said that the trip was beyond his "highest expectations." "The biggest thing I'll remember about Sri Lanka is how the people are wonderfully friendly," Wang said. "Complete strangers, both children and adults, just waved at us from the road sides and were more than happy to talk to us."
Mrs. Belinda Shandra said that she was impressed by the attention to detail and the way in which the tour was organized by the Ambassador and his team.
"It has been the most remarkable experience of my life," Shandra said. "The country is beautiful and the people are so warm and friendly and the nice thing is that every day was a surprise."
Matthew Schmidt, said that, "We have had a fantastic time seeing the national parks and climbing Sigiriya rock. It was an amazing experience and I will never forget it. Everyone here on this journey has had the trip of a lifetime."
Ambassador Wickramasuriya noted that the trip was the first in a series of "Signature Tours" established by the embassy. "Anybody who is talking negatively about Sri Lanka is invited to come to Sri Lanka," he said. "As soon as they come here and travel all around the country, it's a different story."
The inaugural tour included visits to UNESCO World Heritage sites and the Kandy Perahara Buddhist festival. It commenced with a City tour of Colombo and then covered some of the world heritage sites in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the ancient city of Sigiriya the Cave Temple of Dambulla the old town of Galle and its fortifications and the sacred city of Kandy.
The travelers also visited the Yala National Park which is the second largest and most visited national park in Sri Lanka, Minneriya National Park where they witnessed the elephant gathering. The tour also included a visit to the Pinnawela elephant orphanage which has the greatest herd of elephants in captivity in the world.
Courtesy : Embassy of Sri Lanka - Washington DC
Dileep Mudadeniya who held the Managing Director position of the Tourism Promotions Bureau earlier was appointed to a newly created position of the Head of Special Projects. He now operates from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.
Upali De Silva was appointed as the Director Events of Tourism Promotions Bureau. He was in the Exhibition and Convention Bureau of Sri Lanka earlier.
Government sources say more structural changes are expected in tourism sector of the island which is in a push to thrive in the post-war era.
The Tourism Promotion Bureau is responsible for all local as well as overseas marketing and promotional functions.
The plans include the acquisition of five Airbus A320's and two Twin Otters. Three of the A320's will be the first brand new aircraft acquired by the Airline since the year 2000, and will be fitted with the latest Audio-Video On Demand (AVOD) entertainment systems. The Airline will also re-launch its SriLankan Air Taxi domestic service as early as this winter, with plans to fly to more than a dozen destinations island-wide including the city of Colombo.
SriLankan is also finalizing plans to launch new services in 2011 to several cities including Guangzhou in China, expanding its global network to over 50 destinations. Meanwhile the Airline's existing long-haul fleet of A330 and A340 aircraft will be fitted with Flat-Beds, providing absolute luxury for Business Class passengers on all flights to Europe and other long-haul routes.
Nishantha Wickremasinghe, the Airline's Chairman, said: "SriLankan Airlines intends to be a catalyst for our country's economic expansion, by supporting the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to transform the island into a hub. Our plans will spur growth in all types of export and import industries, with particular emphasis on tourism. We believe this is the right time for the National Carrier to expand our products and services - our country is at peace; tourists are flocking to our shores in record numbers; and the economy is growing.
The Airline's subsidiary SriLankan Catering (Pvt) Ltd. just took over the management of the 24-roomed Transit Hotel at BIA last month. SriLankan Catering also recently launched a new Laundry Service targeted at airlines using Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), hotels in the Negombo region, and factories in the area's industrial zones.
SriLankan's plans were announced at a ceremony on 3rd September in Katunayake for the Airline's 31st anniversary, which was attended by Sri Lanka's two Deputy Ministers for Ports and Aviation, Dayashritha Tissera, and Rohitha Abeygunawardena, together with Member of Parliament Namal Rajapaksa.
The Government of Sri Lanka recently underlined the leading role it expects from the National Carrier by purchasing the shareholding earlier held by Emirates, and increasing the Treasury's stake to 94.68%. The remaining 5.32% shareholding is held by employees of the airline.
Mr. Wickremasinghe noted: "SriLankan continued to support our nation's travel and freight-related requirements even during the worst of times, when the global economy was in recession over the last two years.
During this time, we acquired four aircraft, launched services to Shanghai and Milan, and significantly expanded our freight handling operations at BIA. But all this pales into insignificance in comparison to what we have planned for 2011."
SriLankan Engineering is also likely to secure its largest ever contract for aircraft maintenance from a regional airline for the year 2011, and is likely to see further investment to enhance its facilities at BIA.
The Airline has already signed an MOU to set up a Full Flight Simulator Centre at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) with SIM Industries BV of The Netherlands within the next six months, which it will market to other airlines in the region for their training purposes.
During the last year, SriLankan Engineering enhanced its position as a maintenance-repair-overhaul institution with major contracts from the large regional airlines GoAir and IndiGo; while SriLankan Cargo doubled its handling capacity at BIA. The Airline's Ground Handling operation continued to support the expansion of BIA which is fast becoming a modern, sophisticated air terminus.