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Asriel as Diamond Sponsor for CAFE 2024

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 14-04-2024 |
Claude Gunasekera

Asriel Pvt Ltd., a beacon of culinary excellence in Sri Lanka, proudly signed on as Diamond Sponsor for South Asia’s Largest Food Expo, the Culinary Art Food Expo 2024 (CAFE 2024), now in its landmark 21st edition.

The CAFE 2024 is a crucible of culinary innovation, slated to transform the gastronomic landscape from 7th - 9th June 2024, at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall Exhibition Centre (BMICH).

"The culinary arts are one of our nation's most unique distinguishing features. Already today, Sri Lankan cuisine is beloved around the world, but we believe that this is only scratching the surface of its true potential. That is why Asriel is proud to once again sign on as Diamond Sponsor to CAFE 2024, and help build the perfect stage to help our nation's best culinary talents showcase their skill and innovative spirit," Asriel Chairman, Shiran Peiris said.

CAFE 2024 promises an extravagant menu of events that will cater to enthusiasts and professionals alike. From live culinary competitions that challenge the skill and creativity of chefs, to exhibitions showcasing the latest in gastronomic technology and sustainable practices, the expo is poised to be a melting pot of tradition and innovation.

“From passionate home bakers to world-class chefs, Asriel has always celebrated the journey of culinary craft. Our sponsorship of CAFE 2024 is a testament to our commitment to nurturing this art form. We're proud to help turn their visions into unforgettable dishes that tell the story of Sri Lanka’s culinary heritage to the world," Asriel Managing Director Dimuthu Peiris said.

The three-day event will feature masterclasses, workshops, and tasting sessions designed to educate, inspire, and entertain a diverse audience of gourmands, hospitality experts, and food entrepreneurs.

As the culinary scene takes center stage, CAFE 2024 will also highlight the importance of food as a cultural touchstone and economic driver. The expo will facilitate meaningful exchanges among industry leaders, while budding chefs and established restaurateurs alike will have the opportunity to network, share insights, and collaborate on future ventures.

Asriel Holdings' support as the Diamond Sponsor reinforces the company’s dedication to nurturing the culinary arts and empowering the individuals behind Sri Lanka's celebrated cuisine.

Asriel Holdings is at the forefront of Sri Lanka's food solutions sector, catering to HORECA, QSR, bakeries, manufacturing, SMMT, Modern Trading, and dairy industries. With a flourishing export portfolio and cutting-edge facilities, Asriel champions quality and innovation, and is also a strategic partner to Brooks Running providing Sri Lankans with access to premium running shoes and supporting their pursuit of excellence.

Photo-caption: Asriel Chairman, Shiran Peiris speaking at the media launch of the 21st edition of the Culinary Art Food Expo 2024 (CAFE 2024).


Lankapuvath | Colombo | 14-04-2024 |
Claude Gunasekera

Sri Lanka Tourism concludes another successful stint at the Roadshows held in Australia.

The Australian travel industry in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne had a chance to experience Sri Lanka as an exciting travel destination and network with dynamic Sri Lankan travel agents, when Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau organized three roadshows in Australia as part of its worldwide promotion tour.

The three events, organized in coordination with the High Commission of Sri Lanka to Australia, and the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Melbourne, drew over sixty to seventy selective travel agents and tour operators in each of the three cities.

Travel industry players from both countries had the chance to connect with each other and explore potential partnerships in promoting Sri Lanka as a tourist destination for travelers from Australia, which is already Sri Lanka’s fifth largest market for tourists. With Australian travel projected to exceed pre-pandemic levels, and Australians looking to make up time lost during the pandemic by exploring new destinations, the roadshows came at a timely juncture to bring Sri Lanka to the forefront of everyone’s minds.

The roadshows also showcased Sri Lanka’s travel highlights, options and unique attractions, with plenary sessions highlighted by speeches from distinguished speakers, Sri Lanka Tourism videos and Q&A sessions giving participants the chance to explore the opportunities available to them.
In Brisbane, thirty-two Sri Lankan companies and sixty Australian travel and tour operators and Australian media personnel participated at the roadshow. During the plenary session, Her Excellency Ms. Chitranganie Wagiswara, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Australia, Mr. Sandith Samarasinghe, Sri Lanka's Consul General in Melbourne took to the stage to share their insights about the Australian market for Sri Lankan tourism, and to encourage the Australian industry to connect with Sri Lanka, as it surges forward in tourism. They were followed by Mr. Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), who spoke extensively on Sri Lanka’s opportunities, its increasing recognition by international media as one of the hottest places to travel, and innovations in tourism experiences.

Brisbane was followed by the second roadshow in Sydney, where over 75 Australian travel trade companies and 25 media representatives and influencers attended the event, which saw fruitful business discussions between Australian and Sri Lankan participants.
The opening remarks at the second roadshow were delivered by Her Excellency Ms. Chithranganie Wageeswara, the Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Australia. Mr. Chalaka Gajabahu provided the keynote speech on the new global positioning of Sri Lanka. Mr. Sandith Samarasinghe, the Sri Lankan Consul General in Melbourne, also addressed the attendees. Mr. Sakura Wijethunga, the Sri Lankan Airline Manager for Sydney, represented the National carrier in Sri Lanka.
The conclusion of the series of Roadshows in Australia was held in Melbourne, with over 50 Australian agents and 35 media representatives participating.

Following B2B networking sessions, the official session was opened with a warm welcome speech from Mr. Sandith Samarasingha, the Sri Lanka Consulate General in Melbourne. Mr. Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, provided valuable insights into Sri Lanka's tourism landscape, setting the stage for further discussions. the highlight of the event was the address by Sri Lanka Tourism Ambassador, Mr. Sanath Jayasuriya, whose presence captivated the audience. The keynote speech by Hon. Minister of Tourism, Land, Sports, and Youth Affairs, Mr. Harin Fernanado, emphasized the vast opportunities for leisure and investment in Sri Lanka.
Other highlights of all events included colourful dance performances by Sri Lankan dance troupes in Australia, interactive Q&A sessions with the Hon. Minister, Chairman, SLTPB, High Commissioner and Consul General, and raffle draws with air tickets from Sri Lankan Airlines, and tour packages from Sri Lankan travel trade participants.
The feedback received was overwhelmingly positive, indicating a fruitful exchange of ideas and opportunities. These road shows serve as vital platforms for development partnerships and enhancing collaborations between Sri Lankan businesses and their Australian counterparts. Moreover, they play a pivotal role in revitalizing the tourism sector in Sri Lanka by stimulating interest and engagement from Australian markets. The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau's adept organization of these events underscores its commitment to promoting tourism and facilitating meaningful connections within the industry.

Overall, these Roadshows provided an exclusive platform to develop further travel and trade contacts with the Australian community and promote Sri Lanka as one of their go to destinations for an enjoyable holiday experience worth their expenditure and holiday needs. The overwhelming support given by the High Commission of Sri Lanka to Australia, and the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Melbourne, added further to these roadshows conducted by Sri Lanka Tourism. Up to now, Sri Lanka has received several International endorsements as one of the best and safest Travel destinations in the world, and this success further highlights the fact that having Sri Lanka in your bucket list is certainly worth a try.

1000 vehicles to be imported for Tourism Development in Sri Lanka

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 03-04-2024 |
The Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for the importation of 1000 vehicles for Sri Lanka’s Tourism Sector.

According to the Cabinet decision, permission has been granted to import 750 vans which can seat 6-15 passengers, and are either electric or hybrid vehicles.

Permission has also been granted to import 250 buses that include small buses with 16-30 seats or large buses with 30-45 seats.

Sri Lanka imposed a ban on vehicle imports due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequently, extended the ban due to the economic crisis faced by the nation.

However, the vehicle import ban has been relaxed from time to time providing exceptions, with the government authorizing select ministries and state agencies to bring in a handful of new vehicles.

Sri Lanka’s tourism sector has become the latest industry to receive approval for vehicle imports. (

Sri Lanka tops best for solo female travel

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 03-04-2024 |
Sri Lanka stands out as a top destination for solo female travel in 2024. In a recent feature by 'Time Out' Sri Lanka and New Zealand have been chosen as top destinations for solo female travel.
( Time Out England Limited and Time Out Digital Limited are affiliated companies owned by Time Out Group Plc).

Women everywhere are jetting off to explore new cultures, and these are the easiest, safest, and coolest places to do so. Solo female travel is having a moment – according to a recent survey, over half of Gen Z women would consider travelling abroad alone. That means more women than ever are heading off to far-flung destinations in search of new friends, different cultures and memorable experiences. But where should they go, and what should they know?

A few countries are known to be relatively safe and easy to navigate for women looking for an adventure, with well-trodden backpacker routes, friendly locals and the chance to meet new people – or spend some good quality alone time. Sri Lanka is the top among nine of the best destinations for solo female travellers and good-to-know advice on how to stay safe.

Several countries are renowned for being safe and accommodating for solo female travelers, offering well-established backpacker routes, friendly locals, and opportunities for both social interaction and peaceful solitude. Among these destinations,

Sri Lanka shines at Ferien Messe Wien in Austria

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 03-04-2024 |
Sri Lanka shines through Ferien Messe Wien 2024, giving a glimpse of Sri Lanka's Vibrant Tourism and Culture

Sri Lanka Tourism made its valued participation at Austria's premier trade fair for holidays, travel, and leisure, the Ferien Messe Wien 2024, once again proved itself as the ultimate platform for holiday and adventure enthusiasts. The event took place from 14th to 17th March 2024 in Vienna, Austria, this international event is renowned as the leading public access tourism trade fair in Austria. Key stakeholders from the Tourism Sector, as well as representatives from the Gem and Jewelry and Tea Board, will be participated at this event. The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) was represented by Marketing Officer Mr. Jagath Perera, alongside the Sri Lanka Mission in Vienna.

Sri Lanka, a pearl in the Indian Ocean, is increasingly capturing the attention of Austrian travelers, with rising arrival numbers year by year. Austria stands as one of the top source markets for tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Stand at the event commenced with a grand Opening Ceremony on March 14th, 2024. The ceremony was honored by the esteemed presence of the Sri Lanka Mission in Austria, along with representatives from SLTPB and key stakeholders in Sri Lanka Tourism.The lighting of the Traditional oil lamp and a delightful spread of traditional sweets including Kaum, Kokis, and Athiraha were offered to refresh the invitees. Sri Lanka Tourism also arranged a Sri Lanka Kottu seminar, in order to highlight the destination’s much loved spicy snack, featuring experienced chefs to showcase the authentic flavors of Sri Lankan cuisine to Austrian audiences.

The Promotional activities carried out by Sri Lanka Tourism during the Ferien Messe Wien 2024 gained a major interest, as the visitors were able to experience and taste the tantalizing flavours of Sri Lankan cuisine and beverages, providing a taste of the destinations culinary richness, and not to mention the world renowned Sri Lankan hospitality. The Sri Lanka Stall attracted the Austrian visitors with its captivating video presentations, highlighting the beauty and charm of Sri Lanka. Throughout the event, live cultural performances & demonstrations enthralled the visitors to ask for a further ‘’encore’’ as they enjoyed Sri Lanka’s traditional music, dance & crafts. A mesmerizing display of Sri Lanka’s diverse attractions and offerings was also included, with exited fair goers participating in destination related contests and raffles, offering enticing prices such as free trips, hotel stays or tours.

Along with this Promotional activities, The Sri Lanka Embassy in Austria organized cultural and tourism promotional events in Vienna from 14th March to 16th March 2024, coinciding with the travel fair. Those events were at one of the prestigious venues/Shopping malls in the heart of Vienna, namely Lugner City Vienna, Designer Outlet Pandorf, and Westfield Shopping City – Sud.
This Programme showed Sri Lanka dancing/cultural performances together with promoting Sri Lanka Tea and Sri Lankan cuisine.

In summary, the Ferien Messe Wien 2024 created a firsthand experience, in discovering the wonders of this tropical paradise and immerse oneself in its rich culture, warm hospitality, and breathtaking landscapes. Austria can be highlighted as an emerging market for Sri Lanka Tourism, which has the potential of bringing more tourists to the destination, given the necessary promotion.

sureshnie |

Hilton to acquire the fan-favorite Graduate Hotels® brand

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 16-03-2024 |
Lifestyle Category with Addition of Graduate Hotels to Global Brand Portfolio
Pairing loyal Graduate fanbase with size and scale of Hilton will create new opportunities for owners and guests in some of the world’s greatest college towns

Va. and NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hilton (NYSE: HLT) on March 14, announced an agreement with Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners (“AJ Capital”) to acquire the fan-favorite Graduate Hotels® brand, adding a significant growth opportunity for the global hospitality leader in the fast-growing lifestyle hotel market.

Hilton will pay $210 million to acquire all rights to the Graduate brand worldwide, enter into franchise agreements for all existing and signed pipeline Graduate Hotels, and become responsible for the brand’s future development and growth. AJ Capital will remain the owner of the more than 35 operating and pipeline Graduate properties, each of which will be operated under long-term Hilton franchise agreements.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to customary closing conditions including review and approval pursuant to Hart-Scott-Rodino, will be immediately accretive to Hilton. The company expects the fee contribution for the first full year of ownership to be approximately $16 million.

“Adding Graduate Hotels to our portfolio of award-winning brands accelerates our expansion in the lifestyle space by pairing an existing much-loved brand with the power of Hilton’s strong commercial engine to drive growth,” said Chris Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton. “We have long had a high bar for adding brands to our portfolio, whether organically or through acquisition, and Graduate will be another driver of growth for us, presenting a unique opportunity to serve more guests in more sought-after destinations. With thousands of colleges and universities around the world, we believe the addressable market for the Graduate brand is 400-500 hotels globally.”

The addition of Graduate Hotels to Hilton’s global portfolio will offer millions of travelers access to unparalleled hospitality in their favorite university towns. Each Graduate hotel – steeped in local history, charm and nostalgia – is thoughtfully designed to reflect the unique character of its local university, offering the perfect setting for gamedays, reunions, graduations, campus visits and more. Since its inception in 2014, the brand has grown to span the United States and the United Kingdom, including locations in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Knoxville, Tennessee; Palo Alto, California; State College, Pennsylvania; and Oxford and Cambridge, United Kingdom, with new hotels opening soon in Austin and Dallas, Texas; Auburn, Alabama; and Princeton, New Jersey.

“We're proud to embark on this new chapter for Graduate Hotels with Hilton, the ideal partner to steer the brand's continued growth," said Ben Weprin, founder, Graduate Hotels and CEO, AJ Capital. "Both Hilton and Graduate Hotels are committed to delivering exceptional experiences and making a positive impact on communities. Our shared values and close collaboration will ensure a smooth transition while keeping the Graduate Hotels' unique brand identity intact. With Hilton's extensive network behind us, guests can anticipate even more exciting opportunities. We're certain this partnership will propel Graduate Hotels to even greater heights, while AJ’s ongoing ownership of the real estate assets lays a strong foundation for our future success."

The Graduate brand will be incorporated into Hilton’s fast-growing lifestyle portfolio alongside Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Tempo by Hilton and Motto by Hilton – each of which has been launched in the last 10 years to respond to growing demand from travelers for localized travel experiences. Hilton’s 2024 Trends Report identified that nearly a quarter of global travelers are planning getaways for concerts, sporting events and other one-of-a-kind, local experiences this year, many of which are happening in secondary markets anchored by universities.

Graduate Hotels are expected to be available for booking via Hilton channels later this year and will participate in Hilton Honors, Hilton’s award-winning guest loyalty program for the company’s portfolio of more than 7,500 properties worldwide. Members who book directly with Hilton can access instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, exclusive member discounts, free standard Wi-Fi and the Hilton Honors mobile app.

Hilton continues to offer customers the right stay for every travel occasion through an unmatched portfolio of industry-leading brands plus exclusive partnerships that create more experiences for guests to dream about. The addition of Graduate, as well as a recently announced partnerships with Small Luxury Hotels of the World and AutoCamp, adds to the company’s dramatic growth trajectory and reflects its focus on accelerating offerings for guests in the industry’s fastest-growing markets and segments.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. is AJ Capital’s sole financial advisor on this transaction.


Lankapuvath | Colombo | 16-03-2024 |
Anusha Maureen

In February 2024, Sri Lanka witnessed a substantial upsurge in international tourist arrivals, marking an impressive number, totaling 218,350 visitors. This surge was attributed to sustained peak tourism season momentum and favorable local and international conditions, contributing significantly to the overall rejuvenation of the tourism sector.

Throughout February, Sri Lanka experienced a notable surge in visitors from pivotal source markets, including Russia, India, the United Kingdom, Germany, and China. These nations played a pivotal role in propelling the surge in tourist arrivals, thereby providing additional support to Sri Lanka's tourism industry.

According to the most recent projections by PATA, international visitor arrivals (IVA) are expected to see substantial growth in 2024, surpassing the volume recorded in 2019. Furthermore, the forecasts suggest that this trend of annual increases will persist into both 2025 and 2026.
As per the UNWTO, despite the pandemic challenges, international tourism has rebounded to 88% of pre-pandemic levels, driven by strong pent-up demand. Forecasts indicate a complete recovery by 2024, with a projected 2% growth surpassing 2019 levels. Industry optimism is high, with 67% of professionals expressing positivity for 2024 compared to the preceding year, according to the latest UNWTO Tourism Confidence Index survey. The anticipated recovery by the end of 2024 is credited to the release of pent-up demand, improved air connectivity, and the robust resurgence of Asian markets and destinations