Sri Lanka once again named Asia’s most sought after travel destination

Posted on 29 November 2017 by admin

Sri Lanka has continued to receive a number of achievements for its recognition as a compact travel destination across the globe, and received another endorsement recently becoming one of the emerging destinations and one of the most popular global destinations from the key findings of the 2018 Virtuoso Luxe- Australian edition report.

In parallel to this achievement, Sri Lanka Tourism completed a successful series of road shows and a consumer fair in the major citiesof Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. Sri Lanka has bagged several awards as an upcoming destination this year, as Asia’s leading adventure tourism destination, Asia’s leading destination at the World Travel Awards, becoming the best long – haul destination at the family traveler awards held in UK, and also was voted as finalist for culture and holiday destination category at the travel bulletin star awards which was held recently in London.

According to Virtuoso’s Asia Pacific Managing Director, Michael Londregan, “Australians always have a robust bucket list and start each year ready to explore the world. This year it seems that many are drilling down the list beyond the perennial favorites’ to exotic cultures and natural wonders’’.

“It’s clear that 2018 will be a year of exploration and immersion. Perhaps it’s the geopolitical climate, but there is no doubting the trend for destinations that were once warm, are now hot’’.

Sri Lanka was named in the Virtuoso’s bucket list of emerging destinations among Japan, Iceland, Portugal and Norway, while the other categories included most popular global destinations, most popular global destinations, Most popular US destinationsand Most popular family destinations. The Virtuoso Company also has its own magazines and also expands its services to cruises, hotels and tours.

These were a few of the endorsements that Sri Lanka won for its uniqueness and holiday friendly atmosphere in par with the ongoing peace process in the country, which has been declared as a safe country to travel.Sri Lanka also has been featured on the National Geographic channel, Lonely Planet and many other international channels and also on social media platforms.

Virtuoso is the World’s leading network of luxury travel experts, revealing the top trends, destinations and motivations for upscale Australian travelers as they head towards the new year, with ‘’ticking items off the bucket list’’ the No. 01 motivation for people travelling in 2018. 

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Sri Lanka tourism hits record $3.5 billion in 2016

Posted on 06 January 2017 by admin

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka earned a record $3.5 billion from tourism in 2016, seven years after the end of a devastating civil war, a government minister said.

But sources in the industry warned that the post-war boom could be short-lived as planned airport closures forced the cancellation of international flights.

Tourism on the Indian Ocean island suffered heavily during a decades-long civil war that ended in 2009, but has been recovering in recent years.

Tourism minister John Amaratunga said Sri Lanka had 2.05 million arrivals in 2016, short of its target of 2.2 million but still the best the island has ever recorded.

The minister said he hoped for a further rise in 2017, but industry figures warned tourism could fall by 30 percent, hit by the daytime closure of the Colombo international airport for three months for a runway upgrade.

"The drop will be because of the partial airport closure and (national carrier) Sri Lankan stopping direct flights to France and Germany," a senior tourism official told AFP.

International airlines have reduced flights to Colombo during the airport refurbishment that is expected to continue until April.

Sri Lanka´s loss-making national carrier Sri Lankan has said it will lose $50 million as a result of flight cancellations.

Tourists have long been attracted to Sri Lanka for its golden beaches, cultural sites and picturesque tea plantations.

Authorities say tourism has also been boosted by improvements in the island´s international reputation for human rights following the ousting two years ago of former president Mahinda Rajapakse, widely criticised for suppressing dissent.

Courtesy: International TheNews

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More passenger vessels call at Colombo Port

Posted on 05 April 2016 by admin


According to recent reports during March 2016, 11 super luxury passenger vessels have called at the passenger terminal and other terminals of the Port of Colombo. Among them were MV COSALAM INOSA, MV COSTA NEORIVIERA, MV ISLAND SKY, MV ROTTERDAM, MV PACIFIC PRINCESS, MV AIDA BELLA AMESTERDAM, MV Europa – 2, MV AURORA and MV MEIN CHIFF.

Sri Lanka Ports Authority has extended all services required to local agents of these shipping lines towards timely facilitations in this regard as well. Thousands of school children visiting the Port of Colombo daily have also been able to observe the arrival of these luxury passenger liners at the port.

The Government has by now, has created, introduced and implemented a number of fruitful programmes to attract tourists and travelers to Sri Lanka from around the world. The Government has also launched several programmes to extend facilitation to them.

Under the guidance of Minister of Ports and Shipping Arjuna Ranathunga, all necessary instructions have been extended directly by the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Dammika Ranathunga and all officers and staffs at the Operations, Navigation, Logistics, Engineering, Security and other divisions are implementing these instructions efficiently in order to extend a productive service at Sri Lanka Ports Authority around the clock.

With the dawn of 2016, so far, 21 passenger vessels have called at the Port of Colombo. More passenger lines are scheduled to call at the port next months. 

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Sydney (Australia) promotes Sri Lanka Tourism

Posted on 02 April 2016 by admin


Sri Lanka Tourism (SLT) and the Consul General for Sri Lanka in Sydney held a promotional campaign at the Joan Sutherland Theatre of the Sydney Opera House recently.

It coincided with the final performance of Pearl Fishers Opera, a popular tourism attraction in Sydney. There were 1,500 patrons at the venue. As part of the promotional program, one-thousand packs of Ceylon Tea gifted by Dilmah Tea and Sri Lanka Tourism brochures were distributed to the patrons by the staff of the Sydney Opera House.

The Pearl Fishers teaser was shown on widescreen TVs in the lobbies of the Opera House which promoted Sri Lanka as a destination as the backdrop of the opera was of Ceylon and the cast wore colourful saris and costumes.

Australia is a key market for tourism in Sri Lanka and 57,940 Australian tourists visited the island last year, a 7% increase over the previous year.

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Jet Setter’s luxury travel guide features Sri Lanka

Posted on 11 December 2015 by admin






We've tracked down the most exciting luxury travel opportunities from new hotel openings in the Galapagos and Tel Aviv, to News and Special offers from hotels and resorts around the globe.

The highly anticipated luxury eco lodge is now open and will celebrate a grand opening on October 1st. A very special offer is available August 1 – September 30 to experience Pikaia and the Galapagos. Receive 20% off Rack Rates for all 7-night programs, plus a priority room upgrade, subject to availability.pikaialodgegalapagos.com

The Norman is set to open in Tel Aviv

Ready for their August 1st opening, The Norman dream is becoming a reality! Bringing an upscale product to Tel Aviv, the hotel features 50 rooms and suites, two restaurants, rooftop pool, and a wellness area. Book your next business trip or holiday to Tel Aviv. To explore further, please visit thenorman.com

Mark Twain called Sri Lanka "A beautiful and
most sumptuously tropical island."

Fishing for Cod at Fogo Island Inn

Experience North Atlantic fishing culture and connect with Newfoundland's roots by participating in a fishery that has shaped lives and culture. It is made for intrepid, curious and discerning high-comfort explorers who wish to immerse themselves into the local culture and experience a unique adventure. The full board package includes a community host island orientation, a half day fishing expedition with a lesson on cod fishing and full use of the Inn's facilities. Two-night minimum, package is available July 19 – August 10 and September 20 – 28. To secure your booking, please call: 709-658-3444 or toll free in North America at 855-268-9277 or emailreservations@fogoislandinn.ca.

Sri Lanka with Banyan Tours

Mark Twain called Sri Lanka "A beautiful and most sumptuously tropical island." Ceylon, or Sri Lanka as it is known today, boasts nine UNESCO World Heritage sites. The lush, tropical island offers serene Buddhist sites, aromatic spice plantations, pristine hills, and a beautiful coastline of azure seas bordered by golden beaches. For custom-designed luxury tours for individuals and small groups contact Shonali DattaShonali@banyantours.com

Villa Manzu Amazes in Costa Rica

Villa Manzu is the ultimate playground for groups of friends and ideal for a weddings, large or small. Many press clippings from this month agree. From Texas Weddings Magazine – "Looking to marry amongst your closest family and friends, on a cliff over the ocean? Villa Manzu is an eight-bedroom, 32,000 square foot home. When you stay here, you have the entire property. If you pack family and friends in, twenty-four people can sleep in beds- perfect for family and the wedding party." villamanzu.com

Rustic Yurt Adventure at Brush Creek Ranch

Glamping takes a decidedly adventurous twist at The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, where guests have the opportunity to overnight in the heart of Wyoming's alpine high country.

This fully-outfitted ala carte adventure allows for a private horseback pack trip for up to 6 guests, complete with private wrangler and adventure guide to a 700-square foot circular Yurt tent. Guests can enjoy hiking, fishing, archery and more, along with gourmet dinner and breakfast around the campfire. Board games, storytelling, wildlife viewing and stargazing are all part of the fun. Visit www.brushcreekranch.com to explore the vast options across 15,000 expansive acres for a truly memorable luxury ranch vacation.

Rancho La Puerta 1 Destination Spa

Rancho La Puerta has received top honours in the Travel + Leisure 2014 World's Best Awards, as the #1 Destination Spa in the world for 2014, and has received this honour four out of five years. AND, readers of Conde Nast voted Rancho La Puerta the #1 Destination Spa this year. If you have not yet experienced this award winning getaway, book the "Say Hello to the Holidays" special. Book by September 1, 2014 for stays November 15 -December 19th and receive the 7th night free for any one week stay. rancholapuerta.com

Large Villa Sale at Six Senses Zighy Bay

Pikaia Lodge Galapagos sealions

At Zighy Bay in Oman, three large villas are the epitome of luxury and privacy. The two Retreats each feature two bedrooms, plus a personal spa suite, a wine cellar and state-of-the-art entertainment systems. Huge outside space is within the privacy of high cobblestone walls, with plumped up sun loungers and shaded living and dining areas including a traditional Arabic summer house, surround the large infinity-edged swimming pool. One four-bedroom Private Reserve features separate living and dining room areas for entertaining, a private spa suite, a gym, a yoga studio, a wine cellar, staff quarters, a 17-metre infinity swimming pool and live-in butler. Reserve these large villas at great savings, 15% off for The Retreats and 25% off for The Private Reserve. Contact Jad Frem at dos-zighy@sixsenses.com for more information.

Mukul Beach, Golf and Spa in Forbes

Nicaragua's new luxury hideaway was written up in Forbes Magazine June 16th issue. Ann Abel writes about founder Carlos Pellas and the investments he has made not just in his multi-million dollar resort, but in the country he loves dearly.mukulresort.com

Introducing Fivelements Ambassadors

Many guests return to Fivelements because they feel a deep connection to the sacred site and staff, or because they have experienced a positive impact from the healing, wellness therapies and cuisine. Guests' passion for Fivelements has inspired a new initiative to invite select retreaters to become Fivelements Ambassadors. Truly engaged in their own wellbeing, the wellbeing of those close to them and of the world as a whole, our Fivelements Ambassadors are all extraordinary individuals who stand as an inspiration to us all.http://www.fivelements.org/en/about-us/living-in-harmony-blog/item/6-int…

New Zealand's ultimate lodge package

Experience the very best New Zealand has to offer with a very special nine-night package. Three nights at each Lodge – Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers, and Matakauri Lodge – each Lodge offering unique landscape and activities.

A stay at these lodges always includes daily pre-dinner drinks and canapés, gourmet dinner, and full breakfast – but guests who book the Ultima te New Zealand package also enjoy a quintessential New Zealand adventure at each property (per couple), plus lunch daily.

Options include spa treatments, excursions, kiwi discovery tour, cruises and more. This package offers substantial savings and is a perfect itinerary to explore both the South and North Island. http://www.kauricliffs.com/PicsHotel/KauriCliffs/Brochure/Packages/Ultim…

Muay Thai at the Siam Bangkok

Bangkok's most fashionable boutique hotel features the first luxury Muay Thai gym in Bangkok. Guests can participate in beginning to advanced lessons from one day to one week. The Siam's Muay Thai Master works with guests based on their stamina and fitness level. Two-night Muay Thai package includes full board, eight hours of Muay Thai instruction, massages, excursions to a local Muay Thai fight and more. thesiamhotel.com

Unrivaled art experience at Vik retreats

Estancia Vik and Playa Vik in Uruguay offer sumptuous accommodations, majestic landscapes and countless amenities, but the experience of artistic immersion is truly among the most inspiring aspects of the guest experience.

Havens of design, the retreats boast an unparalleled collection of contemporary Uruguayan and international art, including works by celebrated artists James Turell, Anselm Kiefer, José Trujillo, Carlos Musso, among many others.

With each suite having been imagined by an individual artist, Vik Retreats highlight the best of contemporary art, promising singularly remarkable experience for their guests.vikretreats.com

In search of serenity in the Maldives

Gili Lankanfushi's over-water Meera Spa offers a myriad of spa massage treatments by internationally-respected therapists, reiki, reflexology and ayurvedic experts. The "In Search of Serenity" package is the perfect choice for those looking for something extra in their Maldives holiday.

Available August 15 – October 31, 2014, the package includes Champagne on arrival, daily breakfast, roundtrip airport transfers by speed boat, 75 minute couples massage followed by in Spa Aromatherapy Bath, Private Yoga Session, organic garden tour followed by lunch, and more.http://www.gili-lankanfushi.com/view-offers/49542

News from Ananda in the Himalayas

Ananda received another celebrity visit, this time from the French duo "Les Twins", identical twin brothers Laurent and Larry Bourgeois, who are well known French dancers, choreographers, and models.

They called it "the experience of a lifetime." Also in the news, next month, from August 1 -15, Ananda will be hosting a special retreat, "Retreat for Management of Asthma and Breathing Disorders" which will be conducted by Head of Yoga, Sushant Panedy.http://www.anandaspa.com/

Courtesy: luxurytravelmagazine







– See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/sri-lanka-jet-setters-luxury-travel-guide#sthash.nwg6dAD9.dpuf

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Rohantha Athukorala: Tourism new ideas, new concepts and dreams- Sri Lanka must take the chance

Posted on 14 October 2015 by admin


Dr. Rohantha Athukorala at the OPA head quarters addressing the gathering
One of Sri Lanka's top professionals Dr Rohantha Athukorala addressing the Young Professionals Association( OPA) on the topic " Sri Lanka Towards a $100 billion economy" pinioned " Tourism gives a country an opportunity to come out with new ideas, new concepts and dreams which no other discipline can give back to a country. Sri Lanka has got that chance now! It's all about what we do together as coalition governments, coalition public sector boards to make Sri Lanka a $100 billion economy he said.

What is required is for the tourism industry policy makers and private sector to rally closer than ever before and behind their respective tourism brand marketing entities said Chairman Athukorala. Tourism must be a major catalyst for change, for the society as a whole and for this to happen we must invest on people and research. We must develop strategic partnerships linking the Tourism industry with top academia both in Sri Lanka and globally so that Sri Lanka become part of the Global value chain( GVC'c) he said.

Tourism must bring a fresh perspective and access to new ideas, concepts, and dreams" let's make this happen together like what we did the Guinness Book of record attempts where three institutions came together- Sri Lanka Tourism, Sri Lanka Tea Board and Sri Lankan Airlines. The launch of the global on line video completion partnering google, the one million tree stories project partnering Rotary that was launched by Miss World Rolene Strauss, the 500 pod blue whales that live 30 km from Kalpitiya endorsed global specialist Andrew Stutton, Sri Lanka Tourism partnering the Dalada Maligama to create awareness on the 1067th Esela Perahera at the largest tourism fair in the east "Japan Tourism Expo 2015 in Tokoyo", Sri Lanka Tourism together with National Gem and Jewellery Association to auction a " blue sapphire" at the largest tourism fair in Scandinavia " TUR international travel fair 2015 to name a few he voiced.

 Athukorala went on to say that "Growth of the tourism industry offers us a chance to take a step forward and to overcome our differences and capitalize on our diversity to connect Sri Lanka into the global value chain. This is our unique DNA . Let's Make this the best year for Sri Lanka tourism he voiced given that we are focussing on the $ 3 billion tourism receipts for 2015 with $250 + per day so end stacking the numbers he said.

"Let's make the tourism industry the the pillar of our economy, demands that our country and its people work in total partnership with the SME sector that is accounting for 49% of the tourism receipts" he said. It's important that the tourism industry to be together and making the policy makers become market driven."If we seize this chance for growth, then tourism can become a major tool for good and for our future prosperity that will account for 22-24% of GDP like many other developed tourism businesses.

We must keep tourism visible as an industry that brings economic stability, provides employment, and keeps the world connected which is why we launched the global online video competition where a ideal dream vacation branded " 365 day holiday". Meaning twenty lucky winners will get a twenty day holiday with a media link to make the vacation memorable. After all 77% of the travellers make decisions with on line data and hence this competition becomes unique said Athukorala.

As at end August Sri Lanka tourism has recorded a 16.8% growth with 1.1 million visitors coming into the country.


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Minister John Amaratunge dissolves four tourism related director boards

Posted on 13 October 2015 by admin

Minister John amaratunga

Minister John amaratunga

Tourism and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunge has dissolved the four director boards related to tourism of the Ministry with immediate effect. The boards were appointed in January by the then Minister Naveen Dissanayake. Minister Amaratunge said he will forward the names to be appointed to the four bodies today for the approval of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Asked if there were new names included in this list, he said there were. “But the final appointments will be made by the President and the Prime Minister.” 

The four bodies are

  • Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority headed by Paddy Withana,
  • Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau headed by Rohantha Atukorale,
  • Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management chaired by Riza Deen and the
  • Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau headed by H. K. Udaya Rupasinghe. 

TSL Editor's Comment: The four director boards have been in existence long before the entry of former Tourism Minister Navin Dissanayake. The four boards were around during the Rajapaksa regime. Having said this, from reports in the media there have been mass scale corruption on all these boards in the past. It is therefore a good idea that Minister John Amaratunga has dissolved the four director boards. Since this government came into power, SLTPB Chairman Rohantha Athukorala has been a breath of fresh air coming in and revamping the vital tourism sector with his inimitable leadership skills and marketing acumen. My opinion is that Mr. Athukorala should be supreme head of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board with sub-divisional directors overlooking each vital unit such as SLTDA, SLTPB, SLIT & HM and SLCB.  We will then have a streamlined tourist board with a young and dynamic leader in the shape of Rohantha Athukorala.

I know my opinion does not count but as the saying goes, "nothing ventured, nothing gained"!

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Tourism is a “masala tea”

Posted on 06 October 2015 by admin

Courtesy: Daily FT.

We sat in the newly-opened restaurant, styling itself on the trendy Indian fast food concept, quick, clean and easy on the purse. My companion wanted a typical vegetarian meal – “the kind of meal they used to serve at Greenlands,” a popular eating place in the austere 1970s for the middleclass.
Born a Sri Lankan, Peter has chosen Australia, where he has now resided for over 35 years, as his country of domicile. He was 16 when he arrived there. The adopted country has been good to him. He holds a government job in the transport sector. A public service career anywhere in the world is not dedicated to building fortunes. Yet, he is comfortable and secure; earning enough to indulge his passion for travel; Europe, South America, Africa, Exotic Asian destinations, the South Seas, Peter has seen the world.
Like to most immigrants to the West, the adopted country has given him an attractive air of assurance, a ‘let us fix it’ spirit, discernible in those living in dynamic societies, open and accepting. “Why is this road flooded or that drain blocked? Why is that driver sounding his horn incessantly or this government department not replying my written inquiry?” These are not hopeless questions or situations to which he is only a passive observer. Something can be done and ought to be done.


There is a huge gap between potential and reality of our tourism. Like the oil under the desert sands, tourism potential cannot be a success story without human ingenuity and application


Unique insights
Although there is no one of his immediate family living in Sri Lanka now, Peter still feels the “pull” of his land of birth. Having no close relatives to visit or sites to see, he returns regularly only to spend his holidays travelling around the country with no particular plan or purpose. In the course of his travels Peter has gained unique insights into the realities of our tourism industry from the perspective of a “guest”.
Clearly, tourism in Sri Lanka is not a success story relative to other destinations. Nature has been generous when bestowing her blessings on this small island. The things that the average visitor to the tropics seeks, the exotic culture, the beaches, the lush greenery, historical sites, are in abundance, and within short distances. Our roads, railway/taxi service, banking and medical facilities may not be up to the standards of advanced countries. Both our infrastructure and other services are erratic and patchy at best, and wont to break down under pressure.
But that weakness or irregularity may be one of the reasons a person travels, to experience something different to the accustomed efficiency and the predictability of his culture. In this day and age, it is really interesting that no one answers the phone at a government department, even at the Ministry of Telecommunication! If the frustrations of a weak system can be overlooked, they may even add to the quaintness of the place, an interesting experience perhaps!



Huge gap
Nevertheless there is a huge gap between potential and reality of our tourism. Like the oil under the desert sands, tourism potential cannot be a success story without human ingenuity and application.
“As I see it, tourism is fundamentally a matter of service and hospitality. Without understanding the idea of service or living the concept of hospitality, there cannot be a successful tourist industry. In many of the large shops I go into there is a kind of shop detective following you about. I never buy from a shop which treats you like a potential thief. Shoplifting is a concern all over the world, although the percentage of those who commit the offence is very small in numbers. In other countries they have more sophisticated surveillance. The crudity of a man following a customer around is unbelievable. How will you react if a friend you visit treats you in that manner, having his servant to follow you about?”



Less than satisfactory
Peter, I gathered, avoided the more expensive five-star type accommodation, preferring the smaller hotels. In Australia such hotels come with good amenities, the guest is assured of a comfortable stay in a clean and secure environment. But Peter’s experiences in the smaller hotels here have been less than satisfactory.
“They were not exactly cheap; some of them were only a couple of thousand rupees less than the so-called five-star hotels. In many BUP_DFT_DFT-12-INof these small tourist hotels you find out that the air conditioner does not function, taps leak, the bathroom is mouldy, the paint peeling and the overall standard of hygiene pretty low. Many a time, I noticed human hair on the bed sheets, maybe from a previous guest.”
Peter was not the type of person to turn a blind eye to such neglect by a service provider.
“Did you not complain?” I inquired
“I did, however soon realised there was a huge cultural problem we confront. You know that maintenance and upkeep is not a strong quality here. It is always somebody else’s job. The managers are told to listen to the complaints of the guests with a smile. They do that, but nothing happens. It has to be reported to somebody else who has to report it to yet another. The owner of the hotel maybe living in Colombo, yet he has to be first told about the hair on the bed sheet!”
He paused: “These hotels reflect something deeply symbolic of the way things operate in the country. In the front of the hotel they may have a neat looking security hut with a uniformed gateman guarding the entrance. The kitchen, which will be in a dingy corner, will be unsanitary. This inconsistency is something nobody wants to grapple with or even think about. It is as if they are playing at being hoteliers, posing off as a serious service provider. They are happy to let the pretence be, call it ‘Paradise Hill’ or some such thing, but in reality everything about the hotel denies its grand name.
“On this practice of adopting grandiose names or making incredible claims, you feel that there is no meaning in the words used. Paradise Restaurant could be just dirty little eatery selling very cheap stuff. ‘Paradise’ could be even a health hazard! Titles like Hill Top, Beach View, Ideal Resort and Gourmet Food are used so meaninglessly. Hill Top could be in a valley, but it does not seem to matter.”



Service providers
It is difficult to conceive of a hospitality industry manned predominantly by persons who have never or rarely been service receivers. These service providers have no experience in the role of a service receiver in any form. For example, for the waiter serving your order at the table it is only a convenient livelihood, with no real understanding of his role, with no pride in his function. He has never been waited upon and has no concept of receiving a good service. It was an AC room the hotel advertised. Yet, when the guest points out that the AC is malfunctioning, in the mind of the hotel odd-job man he is just being fussy, what is wrong with a fan?
“I have eaten at many restaurants, particularly at those that operate near tourist sites. All they want is your money. They don’t care whether you enjoyed the meal or whether you were satisfied with the service. Sadly, I have not come across any restaurant that took genuine pride in their food or the quality of their service. In some restaurants the food was good, or let us say passable. But that was rare and again not consistently good.
“Tourism now is not the old case of a rich European booking in at a five star hotel and then being driven around by a uniformed chauffeur with a desperate looking ‘tourist guide’ for ‘company’. Today’s tourist wants a much bigger experience, eat at small restaurants, explore the local scene, do something physical like a trek in the jungles, take a bicycle ride, a train journey, sports , nightlife and so on. Most prefer to be left alone to enjoy these things. But that is not possible in Sri Lanka. The harassment of the visitor, by the parasitic element feeding off him such as the beach boys, touts, village toughs, tuk-tuk drivers, trinket sellers and so on is unbelievable.”



Apparent failure
We are in a region of the world which is competing hard for the tourist dollar. When we look at comparable destinations like Thailand, Malaysia or even the Maldives the degree of our failure becomes apparent. Thailand alone attracted something like 26 million visitors last year.
A hidebound approach, hackneyed ideas, combined with the prevailing ‘missing the wood for the trees’ mentality of the industry is not a recipe for success in the highly-competitive and dynamic hospitality industry. The problems facing the industry are complex and deep-rooted. It is a challenge requiring leadership of the highest calibre, as shown repeatedly in our country, a very rare commodity!
“Another problem which no one seems to care about is the unavailability of clean toilets in most places. If you want a fairly decent toilet, the only recourse is to drive into a five star hotel. In every other place I will not consider the available facilities as civilised. I think if the country is serious about its hospitality industry, personal habits and public hygiene must become part of the school curriculum. Today we have graduates whose toilet habits are dreadful.”
Having partaken our vegetarian meal, we decided to wash it down with a masala tea, price Rs. 125. But here we hit a problem. Peter follows a gluten free diet which keeps him off dairy food. He asked the waiter whether he could have his tea without the milk. The waiter looked as if struck by thunder.



"We are in a region of the world which is competing hard for the tourist dollar. When we look at comparable destinations like Thailand, Malaysia or even the Maldives the degree of our failure becomes apparent. Thailand alone attracted something like 26 million visitors last year. A hidebound approach, hackneyed ideas, combined with the prevailing ‘missing the wood for the trees’ mentality of the industry is not a recipe for success in the highly-competitive and dynamic hospitality industry. The problems facing the industry are complex and deep-rooted. It is a challenge requiring leadership of the highest calibre, as shown repeatedly in our country, a very rare commodity!"

“Masala tea is made with milk, sir,” he said, giving Peter the kind of look you may reserve for a retarded child. But Peter simply would not have the milk. This resulted in the waiter having a quiet conference with the other waiters and then all of them heading towards the kitchen. A little later the manager appeared with another man who I believed was a cook, perhaps the tea maker.
“Why don’t you make the tea with the usual spices, but without the milk, as the customer wants?” I suggested, being more familiar with the language. “But that is not a masala tea,” he remonstrated. “Does not matter what you call it. Just make the tea without the milk,” I insisted. They walked back to the kitchen rather confused and palpably unhappy. Perhaps they could not conceive of a customer refusing the precious milk in the tea while still agreeing to pay the appointed Rs. 125 for the “masala tea”!
Peter quite enjoyed his spicy black tea. I noticed that a film of cream had formed like a skin on my tea, as happens with milk when boiled. Next time at this restaurant it will be a “masala tea” without the milk, for me too.

– See more at: http://www.ft.lk/article/479419/Tourism-is-a-“masala-tea”#sthash.AlUnmoWG.dpuf

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Sri Lanka Tourism Chief says, “Need is to attract $250 per day tourists”!

Posted on 05 August 2015 by admin

“The travel and tourism industry is going through radical change and unless we adjust we will perish. The formal sector being flat on growth in Q1 whilst tourist receipts up 14% are indications of the reform required on Policy and private sector business model"

– July arrivals growth at 31.2%
– Total arrivals crossing the 1 million mark at a 16.8% by end July 2015.

Whist Sri Lanka Tourism industry can be proud of the end July performance of 2015 at end July visitor arrivals up 16.8%, crossing the 1 million visitor arrival mark with July recording a 31.2% the Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Dr. Rohantha Athukorala voiced that " Sri Lanka must stop chasing visitor arrival numbers but focus on attracting the $250 per day guests into the country if we are to make the industry financially viable" at the SKAL EGM which he was the key note speaker hosted by Galadari Hotel. He went on to mention that revenue growth being flat in the formal sector was worrying given that central bank confirms the tourism receipts at a 14% growth.

SKAL was founded in 1932 in Paris by travel managers and the idea of international goodwill and friendship grew and, in 1934, the “Association Internationale des Skål Clubs” was formed with Florimond Volckaert as its first President, who is considered the “Father of Skål”. Today, the organization has earned it self the reputation to be the 'Voice of the Tourism Industry" and in Sri Lanka attracts the best names of the sector making it a key stakeholder in the industry under the leadership of Dushy Perera.

Dr Athukorala's logic of targeting the minimum threshold traveller of $250 was that given the high cost of construction and labour in Sri Lanka, unless we have a hotel property that can attract a $250 it will not be financial viable. If not the owner will have to wait for asset enhancement alone which is not a strong business model that can be marketed for a potential investor he commented. Whilst we can do all the focussed B2B marketing on a private-public partnership for us to attract a $250 tourist Sri Lanka needs a strong brand building communication campaign targeting UK/Europe traveller who nets in a 22% of the net proceeds whilst though the Asian travellers account for a higher footfall due to India and China the revenue to the country is only 13% which clearly justifies the argument for the core markers to be Europe. The sad story is that for the last 3 years we have neglected the western markets by pumping in a colossal Rs.860 million to China alone which needs to be balanced if we are to name the industry financially attractive said Dr Athukorala who also has experience of serving the 12 billion dollar export development board and the Sri Lanka tea board for the last five years that gives him an insight to the cross sectoral policy issues the country needs to address.

The reason for the informal sector booming was the online travel agencies driving growth explained the Chairman. A typical dot com has over a 4000 entities in the list whist at SLTDA we have around 1200 registered which explains the gap on the number on arrivals. We don't have to go far even in the formal sector on line booking was just 4-5% around four years back and today it has shot to as high as forty percent which means the business model has to change. The industry is going through radical change and now the industry has to align. We cannot change the game, we have to now do reforms on policy and as a business model voiced Athukorala.

Whilst commending the SKAL members for the strong private- public sector partnership on the below the line marketing strategies he urged the industry to focus to strategically positioning the country with brand equity developing initiatives and be vocal in an appropriate manner post the 17th August so that policy makers give priority to this issue and the radical changes that are required in the industry he said. The good news us that the top 8 global advertising agencies has expressed their interest in the Global Tourism tender pitch. We must now get things firmed up for a quick launch globally said Athukorala.

Courtesy: Etn Global Travel Industry News

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19 top global agencies vie for honours – SLTPB Global Advertising campaign

Posted on 19 July 2015 by admin

A total of 19 top rung global advertising agencies are vying for honours at the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board's global advertising campaign which will enjoy a Rs 200 million creative budget. When we opened the bids at 2 p.m. (on Friday), there were 19 global advertising agencies who had submitted their applications. These agencies vying for the position will enjoy a creative budget of Rs 200 million for the next two years, SLTPB Chairman Rohantha Athukorala told Ceylon


By Chanaka de Silva – Ceylon Finance

A total of 19 top rung global advertising agencies are vying for honours at the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board's global advertising campaign which will enjoy a Rs 200 million creative budget. When we opened the bids at 2 p.m. (on Friday), there were 19 global advertising agencies who had submitted their applications. These agencies vying for the position will enjoy a creative budget of Rs 200 million for the next two years, SLTPB Chairman Rohantha Athukorala told Ceylon FT on Friday.

"Out of the 19 bids received we will shortlist 6 or 7 agencies within the next four days of whom the one will be selected. We have a lot of plans. We must select the best agency capable of effectively projecting Sri Lanka to the world and the shortlisted bidder will create the right pitch for Sri Lanka," Athukorala said.

The agency selected will have to come up with their plan how best to promote Sri Lanka. We have a Rs 200 million creative budget for the next two years. Our media budget will Rs 1 billion for the advertising under this programme he said.

"The Expression of Interests (EOI) handed in by the international ad agencies should have an experience of 10 years minimum in the global market along with experience of handling international brands. The agencies shortlisted will have to recommend the strategy best suited for the task, he said.

He also said that the routine promotions such as the road shows and the Familiarization tours for the leisure industry and the promotional tours for the journalists will also be continued, in addition to the global advertising programmes as well






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