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Press Release - Floods have no adverse impact on Tourism in Sri Lanka - 30th May 2017

The floods and landslides which caused damage to lives and properties in some parts of the country have spared the tourist areas of Sri Lanka.

The floods and landslides have affected only the interior parts of some districts of Sri Lanka. Key tourist areas patronized by foreigners, namely, the coastal belt of South, East and West, sacred city of Kandy, the cultural triangle and the commercial city of Colombo are not affected and easily accessible by road. Tourist hotels in the country are fully operational. Traveling is safe in Sri Lanka during this period but should be cautious if traveling to flood affected areas of the country.

Incessant rains during the past 48 hours across Sri Lanka have caused floods and landslides in some interior parts of Sri Lanka causing damage to lives and property. It has been reported that flood waters were receding in the worst affected districts of Ratnapura and Kalutara. Clean up operation is currently underway.

The government has deployed a large number of tri forces personnel and teams are currently involved in rescue and relief efforts in flood affected areas and the teams are presently working in close coordination with the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) and relevant District Secretariats of Sri Lanka.

The private organizations and the UN agencies are working closely with the government’s relief efforts of coordination and mobilization of resources.

Media Unit
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau. (SLTPB)
No: 80, Galle Road, Colombo 03. Sri Lanka.
Tel : 0112426900 (Ext.: 411)
Fax : 0112426981

Sri Lanka one of the most tourist-friendly countries

According to the World Economic Forum’s index of most tourist-friendly countries Sri Lanka has been ranked 63rd out of 141 countries. Ahead of the Sri Lanka on the index were Malaysia (25)m Indonesia (50) and India (52). Based on the report, Sri Lanka ranked well in terms of Prioritization of Travel and Tourism (30th), and Natural Resources (35th). However, Sri Lanka scored poorly when it came to Environmental Sustainability, ranking 103rd out of 141 countries. It also ranked towards the bottom in terms of ICT readiness (92nd), Human Resource and Labour Market (86th), Tourist Service Infrastructure (74th) and Air Transport Infrastructure (71st). Spain topped the World Economic Forum’s index of most tourist-friendly countries for the first time. The WEF’s global Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index ranked 141 countries on how well the countries can deliver sustainable economic benefits through the travel and tourism sector. Spain was cited for its cultural resources (1st globally), as well as ability to support online searches for entertainment (4th) and excellent infrastructure (4th). The top 5 also included France, Germany, United States and United Kingdom.

Rounding out the top 10 are Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan and Canada. In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia (7th) was the most “tourist-ready” country, followed by Japan (9th), Singapore (11th), Hong Kong (13th), New Zealand (16th) and China (17th). Malaysia ranked 25th, followed by South Korea (29), Taiwan (32) and Thailand (35).

““The diversity in the top 30 shows that a country does not have to be wealthy to have a flourishing tourism sector… But many countries should still do more to tackle travel and tourism challenges, including visa policies, better promotion of cultural heritage, environmental protection and ICT readiness. This in turn would drive economic growth and the creation of jobs,” Roberto Crotti, WEF economist, said. The WEF report identified areas where countries can better adapt to changing global trends and growing market segments, such as middle class travelers from emerging and developing countries, senior citizens and millenials. The WEF report also cited a need for countries to adapt faster to online services and marketing, since many travelers use mobile internet to plan their trips. Meanwhile, the least “tourist-friendly” country on the WEF Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index was Chad. It ranked lower than Guinea, Angola, Yemen, Mauritania and Myanmar.

New boutique hotel Casa Colombo Collection Mirissa joins The Sri Lanka Collection

The Sri Lanka Collection announced the addition of their new Collection member, Casa Colombo Collection Mirissa. This six-suite boutique hotel on the south coast is a sister hotel to their existing member property, Casa Colombo Collection Colombo, winner of the ‘best classic boutique hotel’ category at 2014’s Boutique Hotel Awards. The addition of Casa Colombo Collection Mirissa into The Sri Lanka Collection’s fold brings the number of properties represented by them to 11, and this will be the first of their hotels to be located right on the beach, within metres of the dazzling blue Indian Ocean.

As an introductory offer, Casa Colombo Collection Mirissa is currently offering a ‘four nights for three’ deal until the end of June. “With the expansion of our ‘Casa Colombo Collection’ brand and the recent launch of our second property ‘Casa Colombo Collection, Mirissa’ we are happy to be partnered with The Sri Lanka Collection as we are confident that their travel trade and PR related activities will help us make an impact on the UK market and further establish our properties as the preferred choice in Sri Lanka,” commented Casa Colombo Collection Director Sales and Marketing Zacky De Silva.

Much like its sister hotel, Casa Colombo Collection Mirissa is defined by its innovative design style. It is home to expansive suites lavishing abundant home comforts and the latest mod cons including Nespresso machines, portable speakers and smart TVs. The hotel is also characterised by its eye-catching one-of-a-kind fittings and furnishings, designed by proprietor, Lalin Jinasena. The hotel is small and presides over a sandy stretch of beach.

Of the six well-furnished suites, five come with ocean views and balconies or terraces. The decadent Lounge Pool Beach Suite boasts its own plunge pool. Two suites interconnect making them highly suitable for families whilst the two most secluded suites, set in a separate annex, may be booked together to become a ‘two-bedroom villa’. Living areas, including a cushioned open-air beach lounge, are plentiful, and there is also a swimming pool, a bijou upper floor library/lounge area and a restaurant where you can select your choice from the fresh catch at the hotel’s daily-changing Seafood Market to be cooked anyway you like.

Personalised service is a benchmark of the Casa experience. Casa Domos – private butlers – tend to guests requests 24 hours a day. Acting as your personal concierge they book activities and tours, including day-trips to Galle and Matara’s forts, romantic sun downer cruises and whale watching voyages aboard Miss Elle, a luxurious 33ft fly-bridge yacht. This yacht may also be booked for private sun downer cruises. Other local activities include bicycle rides and surfing, whilst ATVs may be booked at the hotel for riding up and down the beach.

First international hotel to debut in Kandy for over 20 years

Key green features

OZO Kandy is located just minutes from the town centre and offers uninterrupted vistas of Kandy Lake and the surrounding hills, including Knuckle Mountain. The last international hotel brand to enter Kandy was in 1981 and since then the market has been dominated by local operators. ONYX, alongside joint venture partners Sino Lanka Hotels Holdings and The Kandy Hotels Co. identified Kandy as a potential destination to develop a midmarket property and the end result is OZO Kandy. Offering 122 cosy guest rooms, each smartly designed to keep travellers well connected including free Wi-Fi and a multimedia connectivity panel for gadgets, OZO Kandy offers visitors everything they could wish for after a full day of exploration. OZO’s sleep promise ensures feather soft pillows, signature beds, blackout curtains and even a sheep counting screen saver on the IPTV to help bring on the zzzzs. When morning arrives, OZO makes sure guests have everything they need to kick start their day. In addition to connecting guests to their lives back home, OZO also aims to connect guests to the locale. Friendly staff, known as vocal locals, are on hand to provide insider tips on what to see and do nearby.

And if that’s not enough, information is readily available on the in room IPTVs and at the guest lectern located by the Spot giving itinerary suggestions tailored to length of stay, whether it be 24, 48 or 72 hours plus.

“Free time at the hotel can be spent working out at fitness room, ‘Tone’ or chilling at the rooftop pool, ‘Splash’. After a good night’s sleep, guests can ensure they wake bright with a breakfast ‘boost’ at EAT, OZO’s signature restaurant serving breakfast lunch and dinner. Each evening, EAT will showcase the best of Sri Lankan and international cuisine with a variety of tempting buffets. For the best view of the surrounding hills, BOMMU rooftop lounge is ideal for cooling drinks and poolside bites all day long. Guests with early starts or long journeys can make the most of grab and go outlet EAT2GO, which is always on hand for fresh and tasty snacks 24 hours a day.OZO Sri Lanka Area General Manager Alexandre Glauser commented: “We are very excited to welcome our first guests to experience the OZO philosophy of great sleep and good connectivity in this much loved town. Kandy is a destination with huge potential for local and international visitors, and by adding a quality hotel product like OZO, we hope to be able to introduce a new type of visitor to the destination who will in turn help to boost the local economy. Following the successful launch of OZO Colombo in 2014, the team and I are confident that OZO Kandy will soon become the most sought-after property in the area by both locals and international visitors.” OZO Kandy is now welcoming guests to enjoy a special opening offer with rates starting at $ 85 per night. The offer includes breakfast, an upgrade to the next room category (subject to availability) and early check-in and late check-out. The offer is exclusive of taxes and service charges and is valid until for stays from 1 May-30 June. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.ozohotels.com.

Centara Ceysands opens in Bentota

Softlogic Holdings PLC had joined hands with Centara Hotels and Resorts of Thailand and had recently declared open the new Centara Ceysands Resort and Spa in Bentota with an investment of Rs. Three billion. The resort looks to break-even with a Return on Investments (RoI) in five to seven years time.

The property comprises of 165 rooms and suites inclusive of family residences. Facilities at the restaurant include provision of Sri Lankan and internationally influenced cuisines, 360 Seafood and the Ceylon Club which serves an assortment of Ceylon Teas.

The Chairman and Managing Director of Softlogic Holdings PLC Ashok Pathirage said, “We are excited about our venture with the opening of this resort and it is located in one of the best and most popular locations in Sri Lanka. This would also mark our first entry into the hospitality field. We are very hopeful about the prospects of this industry and hope to open our second property, the Movenpick City Hotel by the fourth quarter of 2015.”

The chain’s inclusive Spa Cenvaree will be offering their services and this will constitute of traditional Sri Lankan and Indian treatments along with a range of signature Thai therapies. The resort will also feature a fitness centre, an ocean-front swimming pool with Jacuzzi and a kiddies pool. Additionally, a water sports centre and a separate Kid’s Club is also available.

The resort’s versatile events space can accommodate a wide-ranging number of functions including meetings, incentives groups, weddings and outdoor receptions, all supported by state of the art audiovisual equipment as well as facilities available at the business centre.

The resort is just a few minutes from Aluthgama railway station. Colombo is reached in less than two hours by road and Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport is 100 kilometres away from the resort.

Centara Hotels and Resorts is Thailand’s leading operator of hotels, with 46 deluxe and first-class properties covering all the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom.

The resort’s arrival lounge is situated at Aluthgama, on the inland side of the river, with guests travelling across the water by barge; a journey that takes two minutes.

The resort was inaugurated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa amidst a privileged gathering.

Cinnamon Bey becomes first hotel in Sri Lanka to win LEED Gold

Cinnamon Bey Beruwala became the first hotel in Sri Lanka to be awarded the LEEDV-2009 Gold certification after observing and meeting the expectations of all green standards required of a business entity. Its sustainable efforts from its inception as a project were recognised and rewarded by LEED as one of the best projects in Sri Lanka.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings, homes and neighbourhoods. Developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is intended to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently. LEED is the most popular and most recognised green rating system in the world and obtaining a certification is deemed very prestigious for any organization. “There aren’t many businesses which approach sustainability through the discipline of engineering but I am proud to say that Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts is a hotel chain that drives sustainability through modern engineering techniques. Obtaining LEED Gold certification shows how far we have come in this journey and I am pleased to announce that this only one milestone in a series of such achievements we have envisioned as a group,” said Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts Head of Projects & Engineering and John Keels Group Vice President Michael Jayasekera.

The LEED Version of 2009, which is the current rating system, audits and examines five key areas as follows: sustainable sites which look at ecological impact, water efficiency – which covers reduction of total water usage and water efficient landscaping, energy and atmosphere – for energy efficiency of the building and integration of all systems and equipment properly into the building envelope. The fourth area is material and resources which cover what green materials have been used in a particular project and finally indoor environmental quality which looks at measures taken to prevent air pollution and strategies established to gain more daylight into the complex and less thermal energy. A minimum of 60 points were required to receive the LEED Gold certification, which Cinnamon Bey Beruwala comfortably achieved.

“With this achievement, John Keells Group has let all sectors of our society know that we can meaningfully address the threats to our planet, that all businesses, even those that operate large and complex hospitality arenas, can reduce energy use, protect our climate, and protect biodiversity,” commented Environ Sustainability Globe Ltd. Co-Directors Keerthi Ratnayake and Dr. Rahula Attalage.

Key green features

Some of the key green features in the hotel building included: an energy efficient envelope and mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems, resulting in utility cost savings of 32.2% and innovative water management strategies that allow the building to use 65.62% less potable water than a conventional building. During construction, 70% of the construction waste was diverted from landfills and sent to recycling plants for reuse. Innovative water-efficient landscaping system that was in place also reduced the potable water usage in the irrigation system by 100% and a commendable strategic Erosion and Sedimentation Control System kept the contamination and pollution to the eco system at a minimum

These were only some of the focus areas in their environmental sustainability journey and Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts strives to continuously improve their green initiatives across all properties, to portray themselves as a good corporate citizen. “We are very proud that Cinnamon Bey Beruwala was the only hotel in Sri Lanka to be awarded the LEED Gold certification. The Environment plays a key role in sustaining the modern day hospitality business and Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts believes it is our responsibility to communicate this message via solid action on ground. Being one of the pioneers in environment friendly hospitality business, Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts has taken many initiatives towards our five pledges in the leisure sector, including ‘I will be green’ where employees are encouraged to carry out responsible tourism” said Sri Lanka and Maldives Resorts Sector Head and John Keells Group Executive Vice President Sunimal Senanayake.

The Fortress crowned Sri Lanka’s best resort spa by World Luxury Spa Awards

The Fortress Resort & Spa claim to fame received yet another boost as it won at the World Luxury Spa Awards. The annual announcement of the World Luxury Spa Awards winners marks the highlight of a year-long search for the world’s most coveted spa experiences as testified by hundreds of thousands of discerning travellers. The Fortress was awarded the country award for the best luxury resort spa. The winners including The Fortress stood up to the highest expectations of visitors and critics from over 140 countries with spa-goers looking for the ultimate experience where only the absolute best makes the list.

“In 2014 we have seen many new spa additions and the level of competition was exceptional evident from the calibre of spas nominated by guests and participation of voters in the annual voting process,” said Marinique de Wet, Director of the World Luxury Spa Awards.

“It has been a phenomenal experience for us at The Fortress in recent times as our iconic property continues to attract international accolades.  Now to be named the best resort spa in the island is testimony to our passion in creating a complete experience for our guests encompassing every aspect of a world-class resort,” said Sumith Adhihetty, Managing Director of the Fortress Resort & Spa.

“For participants the World Luxury Spa Awards challenge service excellence and highlight the importance of constant improvement. The award truly puts the award winning spas ahead of their peers from a marketing perspective whilst consumers are increasingly using the list of winners and finalists as a reliable guide when booking their spa visits,” de Wet added.

The plusses are substantial

Sri Lanka has tremendous potential as a key hub for healthcare tourism. The country’s medical services are now being improved to such an extent that it will not be necessary for anyone to seek medical attention overseas, says Dr. Amal Harsha De Silva, the newly-elected President of the College of Medical Administrators of Sri Lanka (CMASL).

“We are now in discussion on developing healthcare tourism. Foreigners can be encouraged to visit Sri Lanka for medical treatment at a level of one-hundredth the cost of such attention in other parts of the world, he said in an interview with The Sunday Island last week.

He stressed that the plusses in healthcare tourism are substantial. More so, they would get medical attention at competitive charges, which are affordable. An influx of people seeking medical attention from abroad would be quite in keeping with our plans.

“Such possibilities are now being discussed and it would not be long these ideas will be implemented. Additionally, we are also in discussion with manufacturers of drugs and medicines to set up their production facilities in Sri Lanka”, said De Silva, a senior medical administrator, who serves as the Additional Secretary (Medical Services) and Western Provincial Director of Health.

His induction as the CMASL chief will be held on May 2 at Hotel Kingsbury, with President Rajapaksa scheduled to attend as chief guest. Directors of all health facilities and senior officials, including the Health Secretary and the DGHS, are members of this organization.

“It would still be cheap in the long run that we encourage such curative action and after treatment, we give them a paid holiday for a week, and they would leave completely satisfied”, he said. “Sri Lanka’s standing in health services in the region will open many doors”.

Curative and preventive care and special treatment for serious illnesses, including AIDS, are now positioned that treatment is available in Sri Lanka. Nobody needs to travel to any international destination because all such care is available in the country, he explained. “This will be the future. Not in a distant context, but more of current standing”.
Take the treatment for AIDS, as an example. The anti-rectal, viral treatment which is costly, is administered free of charge to these patients. Such treatment available in the country, and at no cost to patients, is a facility available exclusively to AIDS sufferers. They are assured confidentiality adding credible concern that they would not be shunned socially, De Silva underscored.

Q: We have interviewed doctors from Singapore, for instance, and it was their contention that Sri Lankan medical practitioners are professionally competent to care for the sick, but what was lacking was modern medical equipment. Do you agree’?
A: Equipment and machines are aspects we have to deal with, but what we have to be concerned about is inter-personal skills. Courtesy to patients, spend some time with them. Our doctors have improved. We have come forward in these practices, but we have quite a way go.

Q: Doctors are professionally qualified and capable. They are courteous. That can be accepted. But, there are common complaints that nurses are rude and they don’t care to make patients comfortable. Could this be a common factor that prevails in most government hospitals?
A: We have to improve their social and PR skills. I have to accept that. But, it does not mean we are doing nothing. They are effectively trained and those who pass the nursing qualifications are in a total atmosphere of patient caring.
Are you aware that OPD treatment is now available until 8 pm daily? This aspect of medical care has been an additional intervention of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who brought about such attention to treatment.


Q: Annual allocations for the government health sector have increased tremendously.
A: Yes, the budgetary allocations for 2014 saw a whopping Rs. 176 billion for health services. Previously, allocations were restricted to around Rs. 60 billion. However, with these substantial funds we can ensure that results would not be inconsiderable. Thanks to the vision of the President and Ministerial intervention, plans to achieve hub status for Sri Lanka are bearing fruit.

Are you aware that each patient in intensive care costs us Rs. 100,000 per day? The treatment is administered absolutely free. There is a doctor and six nurses to care for these patients 24 hours of the day. It happens around the clock.

De Silva has achieved academic excellence with a MBBS, MSC and a post graduate doctorate in medical administration (PhD) from the Colombo University. In addition, he has a MSc in health economics from the prestigious London School of Economics and a diploma from the London school of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

He has also served as a WHO expert on quality in health care for the Ireland College of Surgeons and held the Chairmanship of WHO consultative meetings of the South East Asian region for achieving universal healthcare in New Delhi

Amaya acquires controlling stake of East Coast hotel

The Shangri-La hotel chain, which will be initiating Sri Lanka’s first seven star hotel, has revised its plan of construction and has decided to increase their investment to US $450 million, excluding the cost of the land and along with an increase of rooms from the initial 500 to 625. The hotel is to be built on 10 acres of land overlooking the Galle Face Green.

The land was initially bought in 2010 with a price tag of US $ 125 million and the approval for the construction was received in the same year. With the increase of rooms and a newer plan already paving the way for the new building, the deadline has also gone up, with hopes for the project to see completion in 2017, though the preliminary plan was to finish the project in 2015.

The proposal for the new project has already been approved and the tax concessions will remain the same. With the project seeing fruition, the Electricity Board (CEB) will also have to shift one of their high-tension cables which are getting in the way of the construction and therefore, there are discussions underway between the relevant authorities with regard to this.

Shangri-La Colombo will comprise of a sushi bar, steakhouse, seafood market and Irish pub, speciality restaurants with Indian, Islamic, Szechuan and Macanese cuisines, a Sky lounge, meeting facilities, a swimming pool, spa and tennis courts.

In addition to this, Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort and Spa, which is also in the pipeline, is set to include an 18-hole golf course and is set to offer 315 rooms, including 24 suites. Hambantota Resort and Spa will also comprise of a Sanctuary.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is a Hong Kong based company and five star properties are located across Asia, the Middle East, North America, Oceania and Europe. The first hotel of the group was the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore and this opened in 1971.

The chain is the largest Asian-based luxury hotel group in the region and is regarded as one of the world’s finest hotel management companies.

Amaya acquires controlling stake of East Coast hotel

Amaya Leisure PLC, a subsidiary of Hayleys Group said it acquired the controlling stake of Sun Tan Beach Resorts (Pvt) Ltd, the owners of Centara Passikudah Resorts and Spa, a resort hotel managed by Thailand’s Centara Group.

“We hereby inform that Amaya Leisure PLC invested Rs.499, 399, 997. 73 in the equity stake of 45.2 percent in Sun Tan Beach Resorts (Private) Limited.”

The company further acquired equity stake of 5.8 percent for a consideration of Rs.63, 911, 046. 42 in the same company, taking its total equity in Sun Tan Beach Resorts (Private) Limited to 51 percent,” Amaya Leisure said in a stock exchange filing.

Centara Passikudah Resorts and Spa is a 125-room resort, and according to the acquirer it would complement the rest of Amaya chain of hotels.

Tourist arrivals cross half a million mark in 4 months

Tourist arrivals have crossed the half a million mark by end April as the country continues to enjoy high growth with the post-war rebound in the leisure sector. As per data released yesterday, tourist arrivals in April grew by 39.5% to 112,631 over a year earlier and the large numbers brought the total during the first four months to 534,132, an increase of 27.6%. So far this year, monthly arrivals have been over 100,000 each

April arrivals were boosted by good performance from both traditional and emerging markets. Arrivals from Western Europe rose by 48% to 37,369 in April with UK arrivals up 43% to 12,380. Visitors from Germany were up 59.6% to 8,137. France came third with 5,970 arrivals, up by 43% over April 2013.

In the first four months, Western Europe produced 181,129 tourists, up by 18.5% with UK responsible for 51,415 arrivals, up by 9% and Germany following with 41,101 arrivals, higher by 24% over the first four months of 2013. India dominated April arrivals with 17,192 up by 36% whilst in the first four months the figure was 71,346, up by 20%. Arrivals from South Asia rose by 20% to 112,232 up to April and by 28% to 28,000 in the month. China, the new star, produced 36,803 arrivals up to April, a growth of 136% whilst in April Chinese tourists rose by 170% to 8,005. Japan, produced 12,377 tourists, up by 42% up to April whilst in the month arrivals grew by 90% to 2,368.

Overall the East Asian region generated 91,055 tourists up to April, a growth of 55% whilst in April arrivals rose by 61% to 18,416. Eastern Europe is the third largest generating market with 77,265 arrivals up to April, up by 51% whilst it saw 25% growth in April to 10,844. Arrivals from the Middle East were up 17% to 23,692 up to April and by 25% to 5,302 in the month.

On Monday the Central Bank said earnings from tourism rose by 34% to $ 609 million in the first three months of 2014.

Japan- Sri Lanka tourism to expand

Tourism between Japan and Sri Lanka will be developed with special emphasis on Ayurveda, Japanese Member of Parliament Dr. Arai Hiroyuki said

He said vast resources usually not seen in other countries are available in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Ayurveda system is popular among the Japanese people.

He said so when he met Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, recently. Dr. Hiroyuki added that Japanese tourists to Sri Lanka had increased from 10,000 to 20,000 and most tourists are significantly women and children.

Action had been taken by Japan in response to a request made by Minister Rajapaksa during his last visit to Japan, to send Japanese investors to Sri Lanka. He added that Japan is ready to contribute towards building capacity of local tourist guides by providing training and knowledge of experienced tourist guides in Japan. He also requested the government to nominate commercial entities where Japanese tourists will be able to make trustworthy purchases.

Japanese Member of Parliament Shimpei Mathmitha said Sri Lanka is considered to be one of the most sought-after countries in the world. This is a most opportune time to strengthen existing relations between countries through the Ayurveda system. He pointed out that a Japanese newspaper had named Sri Lanka as the number one among countries for tourism.

Minister Rajapaksa said assistance had been extended by Japan towards development in Sri Lanka which in turn has strengthened the relationship between the two countries. He said assistance will be extended to Japanese investors to develop tourism and the ayurveda system in the future. Tourism Development Authority Chairman Bhaswara Senanka Gunarathna and other officials were present.

Aliya carries home First Ever Gold Award

GBCSL Gold Award in GREEN Rating System – New Buildings, for Aliya Resort & Spa, first recipient in the hospitality industry. Aliya Resort & Spa has been recognized as a resort committed to Green and received the Gold Award in GREEN Rating System of New Buildings, from the Green Building Council of Sri Lanka (GBCSL), the recently constituted not-for-profit organization responsible for Green rating buildings and Green labeling products.

This award, the first of its kind presented to a recipient in the Hospitality Industry, was the first award to be accorded to the resort. ‘Green Building’ is a way of building structures to enhancing our surrounding environment. While natural and resource efficient features can be highlighted in a building, they can also be invisible within an architectural design. A genuine ‘green building’ takes a holistic approach to programming, planning, designing and constructing buildings and sites.

The Aliya Resort & Spa complex extent is approximately 5.39 hectare acres and the total build-up area is approximately 1,018,500 square feet. Salient green features of the Aliya project were highlighted in order to obtain high rating on the Green Scorecard. Eco huts, optimum day light utilization by proper design, proper environment management plan, landscaping with indigenous flora and fauna, lake that was artificially created to store waste and storm water of the area, water treatment plant, utilizing grey water to sustain the landscaped gardens as well as the agro-areas, and energy efficient lighting were all factors that pushed up the scorecard to achieve Gold.

“A micro socio-economic system was modelled by creating the lake and introducing a small paddy field on the site”, Chairman of Aliya Resort & Spa Chandra Wickramasinghe stated. The design was to keep the environment as untouched as possible, which resulted in only one indigenous tree being uprooted and re-planted elsewhere. “The site is green after all the construction of built environment and landscape was completed. The footprint of the built environment was calculated as only 20 percent of the entire site”, CEO Chamin Wickramasinghe added. The GBCSL is affiliated to the World Green Building Council with over 80 affiliated countries as part of its membership. The Green Building Council of Sri Lanka held its Awards Night 2013 at the BMICH with Chief Guest Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa as well as Minister of Technology, Research and Atomic Energy Champika Ranawaka and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Bashwara Gunaratne as Special Guests.

Sri Lanka tourism anticipates over $ 2 b earnings

First four months of 2014 add $ 719 m foreign earnings to national economy

By Cheranka Mendis

Sri Lanka can surpass the $ 2 billion foreign revenue injection from the tourism industry by end this year, if conditions remain stable and arrival numbers continue on an increasing trend.

An anticipated 10-12% increase in domestic tourism activity this year, exceeding the six million listed last year, would add to the victory, in the backdrop of domestic travel exceeding two million by end March this year. Sri Lanka Tourism Director General Dr. D.S. Jayaweera yesterday noted that given the steady rise in tourism numbers to reach half a million by end April (534,132) recording a 27.6% increase over the same period last year, the industry is poised to reach beyond $ 2 billion earnings by end this year. By end April 2014, earnings have reached $ 718.9 million. “We have seen a steady rise in tourist earnings over the years,” he said. In 2004 earnings from the tourism industry were recorded at $ 416 million. “Last year earnings recorded a healthy $ 1.75 billion.” This would mean that the tourism industry could contribute a greater amount to the national economy, as the industry’s foreign inputs are only 10-20%, compared with 40-60% foreign inputs in the apparel industry. The domestic tourism market is also on the rise, Dr. Jayaweera said. “More and more locals are keen to travel around the island.”

The trend is increasing with more opting to travel during weekends and long holidays thanks to infrastructure such as express-ways in place. “We are sure to record a number that is far more than six million this year, which was last year’s number.” Most of this travel takes place around wildlife and beaches.

The Theva Residency awarded 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

Recognised as a top performing hotel as reviewed by travellers on the world’s largest travel site The Theva Residency Hotel – Kandy has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Establishments awarded the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website.

“Winning the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for three consecutive years is a true source of pride for the entire team at Theva and we would like to thank all of our past guests who took the time to complete a review on TripAdvisor,” said the Managing Director, Dheeshana Ameresekere.

Presidential opening for Centara Ceysands Resort on 29 May

Centara Hotels & Resorts of Thailand will officially open its newest resort in Sri Lanka this month. Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa Sri Lanka in Bentota will open on 29 May 2014 at a grand opening ceremony under the patronage of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa

The resort is located on the south-west of the island, with the Bentota River on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. The resort is accessed by a short boat ride across the lagoon from the resort’s arrival lounge at Aluthgama, on the inland side of the river. The guests travel across the water by barge, a journey that would take only a few minutes.

"The opening of this beautiful new resort, set in one of Sri Lanka’s most outstanding tourism destinations, is a proud moment for us,” Centara Hotels & Resorts chief executive officer Thirayuth Chirathivat said. “We view Sri Lanka as being of great potential for us, and the island is part of our strategy for developing our market in the Indian Ocean region."

The resort has 165 rooms and suites, including family residences, with all the accommodations featuring views across the river, or across the beach and the ocean. Restaurant facilities will include Cafe Bem, serving Sri Lankan and international cuisines along with buffets; 360 Seafood, which specialises in locally sourced seafood; and Ceylon Club, which will have a gourmet selection of Ceylon teas. Spa Cenvaree will offer traditional Sri Lankan and Indian treatments along with its range of signature Thai therapies, there is a fitness centre, an oceanfront swimming pool with Jacuzzi and a children’s pool, a water sports centre, and a Kids’ Club with separate zones for the youngsters and the teens. Centara Hotels & Resorts Sri Lanka area general manager Alexandre Glauser says that the hotel is ready with a full complement of staff to welcome its first guests. The resort’s versatile events space can accommodate a wide-ranging number of functions including meetings, incentives groups, weddings and outdoor receptions, all supported by state of the art audiovisual equipment and the facilities available at the business centre. Centara Hotels & Resorts also manages Centara Passikudah Resort & Spa in Passikudah in Batticaloa.

Sri Lanka recognized as "Best Travel Destination" for China

Sri Lanka was awarded with the "Best Travel Destination" Award at the Annual Travel Award Ceremony of the Travel and Leisure Magazine of China held on January 16, 2014 in Beijing.

Awards were given for Best Travel Destination, Best Hospitality Provider, Best Airlines and Best Travel Organizer.

Sri Lanka's Ambassador to China Ranjith Uyangoda received the Award at the awarding ceremony, which was attended by more than 400 representatives including diplomats, travel executives and travel media personnel.

The Travel and Leisure Magazine identified Sri Lanka as the Best Travel Destination through an opinion poll conducted among its Journalists and Readers in China.

Ayubowan! Sri Lanka - 6th Sri Lanka news edition

First month of the New Year heralds record arrivals of 146,575; up 32.6% from a year earlier.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry had begun 2014 with double digit growth with arrivals in January recording a 32.6% increase to 146,575.
This is the highest ever arrivals figure for the month of January whilst the achievement is also comes on the back of all time high arrivals of 154,000 in December 2013...

Read more..

Vesak Tour

Vesak - Time for reflection

Move to promote maritime archaeology from next year

A new program to promote maritime archaeology in Sri Lanka will be implemented from next year, Culture and the Arts Minister T. B. Ekanayake said in Parliament. He said the program will be implemented mainly in Kalpitiya, Galle, Kuda Ravana and Maha Ravana.

The minister noted that visitors will be provided facilities to dive and examine underwater archaeological sites with the use of modern technological devices under this program. The minister said visitors will be able to see sunken ships in silk route and other ruins by diving, once this program begins. He said a maritime museum has been opened in Galle to display replicas of sunken ships and other items taken out from them.

The minister underlined that a special integrated program will be implemented from next year jointly with the Ministries of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs, Economic Development, National Heritages and Culture and the Arts to promote religious tourists sites of the country. All airline companies have been distributed newly composed CDs with aerial views of Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura to promote cultural heritage among tourists.

The minister mentioned that the number of foreign visitors to local Cultural World Heritage sites has doubled over the past three years. He said in 2010 the number of foreign visitors to the sites was 208,461 while in 2012 it increased to 587,738. The income from these sites which was Rs. 761 million in 2010 increased by Rs. 1,341 million in 2012.

Dehiwala Zoo, Pinnawala Orphanage to get a facelift

Director of the National Zoological Gardens, Anura de Silva said during a media briefing that he would be concentrating on improving visitor experiences at the Dehiwala Zoo and the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in 2014.

"This year, we had 1.5 million visitors to the Dehiwala Zoo and 980,000 visitors to Pinnawala, and 30% of the visitors to Pinnawala were foreign tourists. Such large numbers cannot be accommodated at present and it is causing a lot of congestion and inconvenience to the visitors, so we plan on creating more space within the existing area by reducing the number of redundant exhibits, so that people will have more space to move around when they visit," he explained.

Dehiwela Zoo will implement the following sub projects next year: The implementation of stage two in rhinoceros enclosure, work on the exotic bird aviary, renovation of the reptilian area, and the building of a new enclosure for Bengal tigers and jaguar. Rs 180 million have been allocated for these projects.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage will be expanded and the land acquisition for this will be completed in 2014. The orphanage will thus get a new elephant holding area for musth elephants, a separate facility to keep disable elephants and an improved car park to accommodate more visitors.

Mirissa whale watching attracts over 4,000

Over 4,000 tourists visited Mirissa for whale watching last month. Since September, the number of tourists has rapidly increased. In November, 4,556 tourists participated in whale and dolphin watching. Of this, 4,362 were foreigners and 194 locals, Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG) sources said. Among the frequent visitors to Mirissa for whale watching are tourists from China, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Russia and USA, the sources said.

SLCG has deployed personnel from the Rohana Coast Guard base to monitor whale and dolphin watching activities in Mirissa since last September. Coast Guard personnel are also involved in assuring boat operators, crew and tourists to follow safety precautions prior to departure, sources told the Daily News.

Among the rules that boat crew and visitors should follow are the distance to be maintained, method of approaches, boat speed etc. to ensure that the mammal's natural habitat and behaviour is not disturbed, the sources said. Coast Guard personnel have also taken the initiative to educate boat crew on safety aspects and basics of lifesaving.