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Sri Lanka; Transforming to High-end Tourism

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 09-12-2023 |
By Claude Gunasekera | A group of 15 member travel agents from FTI Touristik, world renowned tour operator based in Europe arrived in Sri Lanka this morning (Dec.9) by UL554 from Frankfurt for a week's familiarisation tour.

These high-end travel agents have visited the country for the first time, hosted by HOT House of Travels (Pvt) Ltd.

"The group will cover strategic locations in the paradise Island visiting Dambulla, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Galle, Bentota and Colombo.

Nalin Malwenna Chairman HOT Tourism told that December 14, the final day is scheduled to be a fellowship with the hotel industry representatives to promote their properties to FTI travel agents followed by a media briefing held at 7Degrees Restaurant Colombo 5.

"FTI, plans to actively engage in promoting Sri Lanka in Europe for high end tourists as the local citizens demands for tourists who spend.

Thus FTI will support self-drive holidays, beach holidays, individual tours, long-haul tours, package, and modular services" said Paul Hiemo, Director Biz Development HOT Tourism and former Regional Head, FTI.

The group will leave the country early December 15.


Lankapuvath | Colombo | 18-11-2023 |

By Claude Gunasekera | A group of 25 leading travel agents from Germany arrived here last morning (15) by UL554 for a Familiarization tour in Sri Lanka organized by House of Travel (HOT) Pvt. Ltd in association with PATA German Sector who handles the FAM Tour.

“These Travel Agents are here to attend the ground work to bring in over 1000 high-end tourists during the upcoming season” said Nalin Malwenna Managing Director of HOT Travels. He said they will be shown best locations in the country in order to accomplish their mission to attract high end tourists from Germany”

Malwenna also told that Germans are basically spending over Rs.100,000 every day at Hotels for liquor alone and along with other extra spending they total spending per visit exceeds millions of rupees. He noted “Our company focuses mainly on high end tourists who bring more dollars to the country”.

“Germany has been one of our traditional markets for a long period of time and basically most of them are considered to be high end tourists. Therefore we appreciate for the efforts taken by private sector to focus on high end tourists and particularly fr House of Tourism (HOT) for the initiative taken for Germans. There is a potential for about 200,000 tourists from Germany a year. Sri Lanka Tourism will support our maximum to achieve this targeted arrival” said Priantha Fernando Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

He also said that several plans are underway to facilitate high – end tourists in the coming year while the Tourism Minister Harin Fernando and the team of Sri Lanka Tourism is hardly working to achieve this goal with the support of tourism private sector.

During a one week’s stay in country the German delegation has visited central hills Kandy, Upcountry, wild life at Yala and now enjoying beautiful beaches at South. Their final stay at present is at Cinnemon Hotel Beruwela. They will be here until Nov.21 and address the local media at Seven Degree Restaurant in Colombo on Monday Nov.20.

Sri Lanka Tourism steers ahead towards a successful growth in the Tourism Sector

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 31-10-2023 |

Claude Gunasekera | Sri Lanka Tourism has been able to enjoy a tremendous success in its Tourism activities in 2023, as well as surpassing the milestone of one million tourist arrivals this year, as a result of its continuous efforts to promote Sri Lanka as one of the best tourist destinations in the world. Sri Lanka received several international endorsements this year, being ranked among world’s top 10 islands recognized by the big 7 travel, also being one of the most instagrammable places in the world for 2023, recognized as one of the best destinations to travel in 2023 by the Independent, whereas being one of the safest countries to travel in 2023 by the World Packers community. The rising number of tourist arrivals each month showcases the positive success which Sri Lanka Tourism has earned through its continuous global campaigns, roadshows and participating in leading travel fairs across the world. Sri Lanka participated in several International Tourism fairs such as FITUR (Spain ) , ITB ( Germany ) , SATTE (India )and MITT (Russia) . Another two crucial International events, the WTM UK and CITM China, will take place respectively this year. Several international Media FAM tours/Travel blogger FAMS were also organized, whereas several foreign celebrities too visited Sri Lanka to highlight it further as an ideal travel destination, blessed with all the natural resources and holiday opportunities that a modern traveler needs to find. Thus the SLTPB has been highly successful in its promotions while its sister organizations SLTDA, SLCB and SLITHM had their fair share of achievements throughout this year.

Mr. Chalaka Gajabahu , Chairman SLTPB , expressed his positive output on the successful journey Sri Lanka Tourism has been through this year ,also highlighting on more tourism projects which are to be implemented in course of the upcoming year. ‘’ This is seen as a very successful time period for both Sri Lanka Tourism and the Tourism Industry in general. By now, we have also passed 1.1 million tourist arrivals which is a good sign, and will indicate there’ll be more tourist arrivals in the long run. We have also initiated some new projects for the season, whereas the much awaited global campaign will be carried out in 9 countries. Another two important Trade /Travel fairs, WTM UK and CITM China are on their way and Sri Lanka Tourism has been a regular participant in both fairs all these years. This time too, Sri Lanka will be highlighted as an ideal destination to visit, and have the holiday of your choice, while proudly showcasing its latest tagline ‘’you’ll come back for more’’. Sri Lanka Tourism certainly has several key projects coming up for the upcoming year, and I ‘m positive all these initiatives will enable Sri Lanka to be a global icon among all travel destinations’’.

Nevertheless, Sri Lanka Tourism has also focused on creating many employment opportunities in the Tourism sector, especially taking up the small and medium scale tourism stakeholders.
Sri Lanka is on a successful journey ahead – despite all the challenges it has faced throughout these years, highlighting Sri Lanka’s name on the global map, as a world renowned travel destination.

USAID and Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance Launch Social Media Influencer Campaign to Boost Tourism

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 01-10-2023 |
MEDIA RELEASE | COLOMBO | The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) -Indo Pacific Opportunity Project (IPOP) and Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance (SLTA) recently launched a social media Influencer campaign to support efforts to increase Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals and boost the tourism industry.

The campaign will be conducted by a team of 10 global influencers with followers from top tourism source markets, including: the U.K., India, France, Germany, Poland, Scandinavia, Canada and the United States. The team will travel to many exotic locations around the country to showcase a range of sustainable niche tourism products and experiential cultural attractions that Sri Lanka has to offer to attract more visitors to the country.

Tourism is critical to Sri Lanka’s economy as it exits the pandemic and deals with its internal economic crisis. Pre-pandemic tourism represented 12 percent of the country’s GDP, generating US $4.3 billion in revenue in 2018. Sri Lanka is currently experiencing an encouraging surge in tourist arrivals and on Tuesday 26th September, crossed the crucial landmark of One million tourists for the year 2023 - easily surpassing the total of 720,000 recorded for the whole of 2022. The landmark also coincided with the celebration of World Tourism Day on the 27th September.
“The increase in tourist arrivals this year in Sri Lanka is very encouraging,” said Chief Guest, Julie Chung, Ambassador of the United States to Sri Lanka, at the special launch event held on Monday 25th September at Cinnamon Grand Hotel. The Ambassador added, “It shows that Sri Lanka is again ready to realize its full potential as a global tourist destination, following years of downturn due to the COVID pandemic and the economic crisis. I am particularly pleased that USAID is engaged in this important sector and that we are supporting Sri Lanka’s return to economic stability. With the United States having worked side-by-side with Sri Lanka for 75 years, this is what a strong partnership looks like.”

“I had the pleasure of meeting some of the influencers personally earlier in the evening and I was truly impressed by the stories they shared of their experiences and I am sure Sri Lanka will benefit immensely by this innovative campaign to showcase Sri Lanka to the world and attract more visitors to this beautiful country”, said Ambassador Chung.
Using social media influencer campaigns has become a popular strategy for brands and organizations globally to communicate their messages, products, or services to a broader and more engaged audience. USAID has successfully sponsored social media influencer campaigns in Georgia and, most recently, Nepal. Theses campaigns are especially useful to target specific markets (e.g. UK, Germany, India, etc.) as well as certain interests (Adventure, Culture, Wellness etc.).

“This social media influencer campaign is a novel idea and very timely boost for tourism in Sri Lanka. Our country is blessed with a diverse range of tourism offering which are available all year round. Indeed, Sri Lanka is not a place that you visit just once but a country that people will visit over and over again,” said Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau.
Sri Lanka possesses rich and diverse tourism offerings, including sustainable niche tourism products and experiential cultural attractions. By leveraging the power of social media through high-quality influencers, it is possible to increase the global awareness of the amazing tourism assets in Sri Lanka, positioning the country as a high-value destination. Through captivating content, engaging storytelling, and strategic targeting, the campaign can generate demand, stimulate tourism growth, and contribute to the economic recovery of Sri Lanka's tourism sector.
“I’m so excited to partner with USAID and Steller again. I can’t wait to see what an incredible journey awaits in Sri Lanka and to immerse myself in its vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes!” says Evelyn Cheng, UK based traveler influencer.

USAID launched the Indo Pacific Opportunity Project (IPOP) tourism activity in July 2022 to support economic reforms and promote foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka. The two-year project is assisting the Sri Lanka Tourism Ministry to streamline and implement new policies and procedures to enable fast-tracking and attraction of foreign direct investment in the tourism sector. The launch of this social media influencer campaign is another step forward in USAID-IPOP’s strategy to boost Sri Lanka’s tourism.

PIX1 – Ambassador Julie Chung with the team of influencers and USAID Mission Director, Gabriel Grau (extreme Left) and USAID Director of Economic Growth, Christopher Powers (second from left).
PIX2: Ambassador Julie Chung meeting with the team of influencers
PIX3: Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau

University of Colombo inaugurates Sustainable Tourism Unit

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 01-10-2023 |
Colombo | By Claude Gunasekera | The Faculty of Arts at the University of Colombo is set to inaugurate its Sustainable Tourism Unit (STU) tomorrow (October 2) from 2:00 p.m. onwards at the Senate Hall, College House; marking a significant milestone for Sri Lanka's tourism industry.

Aligned with the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the establishment of the STU signifies a paradigm shift from unsustainable practices towards integrated, inclusive, and eco-conscious tourism development in Sri Lanka.

The initiative recognises the critical importance of evidence-based knowledge, data-driven insights, stakeholder awareness, and industry implementation of sustainable tourism practices.

The primary objective of the UOC-STU is to serve as a knowledge hub, offering evidence-based insights, outcome-oriented training, public awareness campaigns and intellectual contributions to drive inclusive and integrated sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka.

Prof. D.A.C. Suranga Silva, Coordinator of the Sustainable Tourism Unit, expressed his vision for the UOC-STU, under the direction of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo and the recommendation of the Dean, Faculty of Arts, emphasising the unit's unique initiation and commitment.

“The ultimate aspiration of UOC-STU is to emerge as the premier centre of excellence, fostering innovation, sharing knowledge, and catalysing actions to propel Sri Lanka Tourism to the forefront of the global stage. This milestone inauguration sets a promising trajectory for the future of sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka,” he said.

To kickstart this endeavour, an Industry-Policy and Diplomatic Dialogue themed ‘The Future of Wisdom Enlightening for Sustainable Tourism Development’ will be held concurrently at the launch to mark the UNWTO World Tourism Day Celebration 2023.

This dialogue aims to bring together international and national organisations, including UNDP, ADB, USAID, UNWTO, SLTDA and the Ministry of Tourism, along with industry experts.

Prof. Silva said by leveraging the expertise of 13 departments and multiple teaching units in the Social Sciences, the STU is poised to make a substantial impact on sustainable tourism development.

He also emphasised the pivotal role of Social Sciences in understanding human behaviour, cultural dynamics, and economic factors underpinning sustainable tourism. The unit's motto, ‘Wisdom Enlightening for Sustainable Tourism’, encapsulates its commitment to integrating industry best practices and global standards into Sri Lanka's tourism landscape.


Lankapuvath | Colombo | 28-09-2023 |
Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) continues to scale up training regional hoteliers in MICE industry.

SLCB has conducted a series of MICE tourism training sessions for the regional hoteliers including Kandy and South regions and the latest was conducted in the Cultural Triangle area on the 05th September 2023. The aim of these training sessions was to reestablish and enhance the awareness of the importance of Sri Lanka’s MICE industry.

Mr. Krishantha Fernando – General Manager SLCB, by delivering the inaugural and welcome speech elaborated in a nutshell how to make optimal use of environmental resources in cultural triangle to constitute a key element in tourism development focusing at biggest markets of India, China and Europe.

Prominent personalities from the hospitality and event Industry comprising Mr. Trevin Gomez- senior hotelier, former president of Ceylon Hotel School Graduate association, focusing on Business events and Incentive Travel from a hoteliers perspective, Mrs. Paddy Paul Managing Director of Golden Isle Pvt Ltd Entrepreneur & member of SLAPCEO on Reshaping of MICE Tourism - Technology and HR and Mr. Gihan De Silva – Corporate Facilitator, trainer, coach & mentoring specialist & member of SLAPCEO on experiential Marketing were present.
Panel discussion on current status of Business Events , Incentive Travel and new trends was conducted with the Participation of Mr. Trevine Gomez Mr. Asela Wavita General Manager Heritance Kandalama, Mr. Kasun Wijerathne Resident Manager Aliya Resort & Spa accompanied Mr. Krishantha Fernando General Manager SLCB, Moderated by SLAPCEO President Mr. Imran Hassan.

Participants from leading hotels in cultural triangle joined the training and actively carried out group work and presentations. All participants were issued with certificates of participation followed by a group photograph.

SLCB will continue to conduct these training programs in all regions in order for all hoteliers to be fully geared up to serve MICE travelers in the upcoming seasons.

German National Ursula Sudu Amma to spend 8 million on Farm Wells in Vavuniya on her 121st visit here.

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 25-08-2023 |

BY CLAUDE GUNASEKERA | Ursula Beire, the German national known as “Sudu Amma” among many less privileged people in Sri Lanka made her 121st visit to Sri Lanka since 1979. The Sri Lanka Tourism held a felicitation yesterday at Spring of Life Ayurvedic Centre by Lakeside Bolgoda yesterday.

Priantha Fernando Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority along with the staff recognized her as an asset to the country not only for visiting the country as a tourist but for the great charity done for the poor community in Sri Lanka in addition to promoting German tourists to visit Sri Lanka for Spiritual Tourism. He said Beire along with her team had conducted number of spiritual tourism events in Germany.

Beire on her 121 visit has decided to launch a project in Vavuniya district to provide farm wells to micro farmers with an estimated cost of Rs. 8 million. This is her newest welfare project while many other welfare programmes are in operation in many parts of the country solely funded by her and family. These activities are carried out by the Foundation of Peace & Love, Ursula Beire Cultural Centreand Spring of Life Ayurvedic Centre.

She had built and donated about 1000 units of small houses, schools, temples, community halls, sports fields and wells along with a complete housing scheme as comprising 35 houses in Solingen Village. In addition, Beire has also supported rural hospitals with ECG & dental equipment, Ultra Sound Machines and sundry items such as blood pressure gaug, Scissors, Bandages etc.