Pics by Chanaka de Silva
Hotel Show Colombo Launched
Hotel Show Colombo is back again after 3 years!
Sri Lanka’s only Hotel Show Exhibition is back after a lapse of 3 years. It will be held on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of July 2023. Hotel show Colombo is organized by the Sri Lanka Hospitality Graduates Association together with CDC Events, and the support of the state and private sector. The annual exhibition has driven its way over the past 25 years improving its standards and services while creating opportunities for exhibitors to meet their business expectations. The event attracts products and services representing thousands of brands from all over the globe while many visitors and buyers including Sri Lanka, Maldives, India and other South Asian Countries. With the resurgence of the tourism industry in the country and the increased demand for hotel supplies and services the hotel show Colombo 2023 will take place, setting the platform to showcase all hotel supplies and services under one roof. The National Barista Championship, National Room Stylist Challenge, Ceylon Tea Masters Cup, Bar Champs- bartenders competition and several Industry focused Masterclasses will be held concurrently together with the Hotel Show Colombo exhibition.
While the theme for this year’s exhibition will be PRODUCE OF SRI LANKA. There will be over 175 stalls from all over the world show casing products and services ranging from Kitchen Equipment, Linen, Housekeeping Equipment, Leisure & Entertainment etc.
Trevin Gomez, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee state that “at the time when tourism is just starting to peak many hotels & resorts will be looking at upgrading and refurbishing their facilities. Keeping in line with this year’s theme is ‘Produce of Sri Lanka’, the organizers wish to give prominence to Sri Lankan-made products and services in order to give a boost to the economy”.
The Principal Sponsor of the exhibition is Cargills Ceylon PLC, Pragmatic International is the Diamond Sponsor, while Suyamas International (Pvt) Ltd, Venture Hotel Supplies Pvt Ltd, Nitmo Pvt Ltd & World of Outdoor Pvt Ltd are Gold Sponsors.
Fits Retail Pvt Ltd (Damn Fine Coffee) is the Coffee & Machinery Sponsor for the National Barista Championship while Liquid Island Pvt Ltd (Monin) is the Syrup Sponsor for the National Barista Championship. Celcius Solutions and Suyamas are the sponsors of the National Room Stylist Challenge. Rockland Distilleries Pvt Ltd is the sponsor for the Bar Champs -Bar tenders competition. The concurrent events will be held in 5 regions namely: Colombo, Negombo, Cultural Triangle, Central and South. While the finals will be held in Hotel Show Colombo. Judges of international repute will be flown in to officiate the competitions while as in the past, these events will be conducted as per international rules & regulations.
Granbell Colombo clocks one year
By Shivanthi Medagoda
Granbell Hotel Colombo celebrates its One-Year Anniversary on May 12, 2023. The Hotel announced this at a press conference to the media , and noteworthy industry individuals.
Despite various challenges, Granbell Hotel Colombo defied the odds and opened its doors in April 2022. The hotel maintained a strong occupancy rate of over 40% from November onward, thanks to the unwavering support of the government, Sri Lanka Tourism, travel agents, corporate partners, and overseas tour operators. The event was graced with the presence of guests and dignitaries, including Belluna Co. Ltd, President, Kiyoshi Yasuno, Belluna Co. Ltd, Director, Hiroshi Yasuno, Belluna Japan, Director, Junko Kato, and Partner of Belluna Lanka, Nishantha Perera. The Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management (SLITHM) Chairman, Shirantha Pieris was also present.
The management of the hotel attributed their success to the commitment of their outstanding team and the hotel's commitment to giving each guest a unique experience. The hotel also announced an exciting social media giveaway to their loyal patrons of an exclusive overnight stay, a themed dinner week at The All Day Dining Restaurant, and special entertainment at The Bar on the Top.
Addressing the gathering SLITHM Chairman Peiris, said that he was pleased that the students who pass out now have good places like the Granbell to start their careers. Therefore choices had been limited to a few hotels in the country. However, now they have a wider choice.
The Granbell though located in the midst of the busy capital city of Sri Lanka, promises a tranquil island getaway with elegant décor and an unobstructed view of the azure shoreline and its surroundings one’s bedroom, rooftop pool and bar. They offer o The facilities like spa treatments, saunas, and jacuzzis; a dance studio, meeting room, banquet hall, and fitness centre; and not to forget the infinity pool as well.
Granbell Hotel Colombo also participated in the prestigious SATTE 2023 travel fair in Delhi and the Arab Travel Mart in Dubai, where it showcased its world-class facilities and exceptional service. In order to further promote Sri Lanka's tourism business, the hotel is looking forward to participating in the World Travel Mart and other travel fairs in the upcoming year.
Belluna, also the owner of Le Grand Galle, eagerly awaits the property's fifth-anniversary celebration this August. Perched gracefully just five minutes away from the historic Galle Fort and the mesmerizing sea, Le Grand offers spacious rooms starting at generous square meters' check out here.
Pics by Chanaka de Silva
CAFE 2023 - 20TH EDITION BATTLE OF THE CHEFS
The chef’s guild of Lanka was initially formed in 1988 by late chef Neil Gow with the fellow chef’s community in Sri Lanka namely chef Marie Nugapitaya, chef Nisal Fernando, chef Gerard Mendis, and the team of about 40 senior Chefs from the Colombo City Hotels.
Today we have an executive committee of almost 40 Chefs representing most of the 5-star properties and a membership of almost 4500 Chefs in Sri Lanka representing the Hotels and Restaurants.
The first Culinary Competition in Sri Lanka was held in 1992 with just 75 participants and today it has grown to be one of the most participated Culinary Events in Asia. We were unable to stage this event in the last 3 years due to the situation the country faced, and in 2019 we had 2600 Chefs participating with over 3200 food entries.
This event also creates a platform for our young up and coming chefs to showcase their talent and skills to the public and create the path way for them to pursuer their career in a very professional manner with winning of medals and awards. Due to the lack of space, we are not able to open this event to many other countries that have shown interest in participating and we hope that there will be a professionally built Congress center soon for us to extend this facility globally that would definitely attract many countries.
Many of our Sri Lankan Chefs are today holding high positions in the culinary Industry in many parts of the world, and this is an area of growing demand and we the Chefs Guild of Lanka continuously keep on updating the Culinary Industry in Sri Lanka on global food trends etc. to ensure that we are within the new concepts and global high food standards.
CGL team of chefs has represented Sri Lanka at all the bi annual world congresses since 1992 held globally in order to develop global trends and changing culinary concepts to be adopted and maintained in Sri Lanka. We have attended these Congresses / Forums in Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Dubai, Greece, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, to name a few
This competition categories are being judged by international famous WACS approved judges from America, Europe, Far East, Pacific rim and the middle eastern regions along with the presence of our WORLD PRESIDENT Chef Thomas Gugler.
This year our President Hon Ranil Wickremasinghe has confirmed his attendance as the Chief Guest for the inauguration on the 8th of June at 10 am together with the Hon Minister of Tourism Harin Fernando and many other dignitaries.
CGL received the WORLD HUMANITARIAN AWARD by the World Association of Chefs Societies for the services rendered during the Tsunami by cooking and feeding the refugees in Balapitiya, Koggala and Hambanthota. We cooked 20 thousand meals a day for almost 2 weeks.
We also set up a satellite kitchen during the tail end of the war in the north in Mannar and Cooked meals for refugees in Manik Farm Camp site feeding about 25 thousand refugees for one month. PROFESSIONAL CULINARY DEVELOPMENT CONTRIBUTED TO THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY AND THE YOUTH
identify the talents and skills through training and culinary competitions to select the best and pave the way to get to the international arena
special training and sponsorship of chefs to represent Sri Lankan youth chefs for global culinary competitions SICA, FHA, HOFEX, WORLD CUP IN LUXEMBOURG, World CULINARY OLYMPICS in Germany, world pastry cup in Singapore etc. Sri Lankan young chefs have received over 20 gold medals at every world culinary Olympics event which is held every 4 years in Germany and the World Cup in Luxembourg in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2020.
YOUTH / COMMUNITY PROGRAMS
The CGL has developed the most up to date cookery curriculum with the assistance of AUSTRALIAN AID and endorsed by the VTA, NAITA, NYSC, SLITHM and TVEC and used presently at the training centers. The CGL has completed a full 10-day residential training programmes for the entire VTA, NAITA, NYSC and selected SLITHM faculty and instructors during COVID in 2022 and 2021. The CGL initiated in assisting and organizing the professional training kitchens of 3 centers of NAITA and VTA namely in ANURADHAPURA, KADURUWELA and AHANGAMA.
The CGL nominated 06 chef instructors, initiated and completed the full 06 months training for the center resource person and 125 students from the respective national training centers for NVQ 4 level.
The CGL has developed competitions and criteria for the industry needs and international standards along with multinational companies NESTLE LANKA Ltd by conducting the “NATIONAL GOLDEN CHEFS HAT COMPETITIONS " in Sri Lanka
The CGL developed and managed for 3 seasons since 2018 - 2023 the world renowned “SUPREME CHEF CULINARY CHALLENGE " the tv series which was telecasted over SIRASA TV AND RUPAVAHINI CHANNELS
Every year on the 20th of OCTOBER the "WORLD CHEFS DAY " is celebrated with CSR projects and fellowship for the chefs in all districts in 1 location to develop team spirit, friendship and share professional knowledge
The CGL has initiated along with Australian aid with the assistance of the VTA/NAITA/NYSC/SLTHM best students in identify 40 innovative AUTHENTIC REGIONAL RECEIPES, prepare and present and develop contemporary menus to mark an identity to our national Sri Lankan cuisine which will be completed and launched during CAFE 2023.
We look forward to a great event of a ' Battle of the Chefs "
Pics by Prabodha de Silva
An Island’s Eleven –A complete history of Sri Lankan Cricket
Sri Lanka Tourism marked another milestone in its promotional activities by hosting the official book launch of ‘’An Island’s Eleven - a book written by British sports media journalist Nicholas Brookes, as a result of his thorough research of Sri Lanka Cricket. The book has won the prestigious ‘Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year award for 2023, out of the six shortlisted nominations for the award. It was followed by another accolade a few days later, winning the ‘Wisden Book of the Year’’ by the world-famous Wisden Cricketers Almanac.
The launch ceremony was held on the 2 nd of May 2023 at the picturesque Mt. Lavinia Hotel, overlooking the endless ocean. It was held under the patronage of H.E Sarah Hulton, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka as the Chief Guest, H.E Michael Appleton, High Commissioner for New Zealand in Sri Lanka as the Guest of Honor , .Arjuna Ranatunga, former cricket captain, administrator and MP , .Chalaka Gajabahu - Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, including the author himself graced the head table among the distinguished audience of Cricketing Legends, Cricket Commentators, Diplomats, Travel Agents, Hoteliers and Tourism Associations and Tourism officials.
Being a UK national, Nicholas is another cricket enthusiast, writer and analyst who falls into the category of those who were fascinated by the island destination and it’s cricket alike, such as Tony Greig, Harsha Bhogle and several others. The main purpose of this event was to promote the publication and also launch the book in Sri Lanka for the first time. Beginning the launch, Chalaka Gajabahu , Chairman SLTPB, welcomed the guests by
describing the reputation which Sri Lanka has received as a Cricket loving nation and the respect and love its inhabitants have for foreign cricketers and analysts. He further mentioned that this initiative taken by Sri Lanka Tourism will be a very fruitful effort in the long run.
In his speech, Mr. Brookes explained how he got the initiative to write the book by doing thorough research on the Sri Lankan cricket history at the Library at Lord’s, and his first visit to the island in 2017 convinced him it was a project well worth the effort. All those whom he met in Sri Lanka had a story to tell, and he further learnt the true meaning of Sri Lankan hospitality. He also mentioned about cricket legends such as Michael Tissera who had done a yeoman service for his country. During his stay in Sri Lanka Nicholas was able to learn a lot about the Sri Lankan culture and also taught at St. Thomas’s College, Mt. Lavinia for a short period. His notable remark was that Sri Lanka is cricket and Cricket is Sri Lanka, and there is no other
nation in the world where cricket is almost the second religion, due to its immense popularity among the locals.
Afterwards, several copies of his books were handed over to the distinguished guests including the Chief Guest H.E. Sarah Hulton (British High Commissioner), H.E. Michael Appleton (New Zealand High Commissioner) and all the cricket legends who were present at the venue. H.E Michel Appleton, High Commissioner for New Zealand in Sri Lanka also made a short but informative expression on the book, and Sri Lanka cricket in general. He stressed that Sri Lanka’s moment of glory was winning the 1996 world cup, which brought down all the cricketing giants such as England, Australia and India. The book is all about a little nation winning over the big countries. He recalled how Sri Lanka won its first overseas test match in 1995, what he expressed as reasons for Sri Lanka's victory were persistence and, innovation. He said that innovation was crucial when being underdogs of Cricket, and coming up as a small nation. He also commended the friendliness of the Sri Lankans which were not seen in many countries. The national pride which Sri Lankans have for their country was also mentioned, and if anyone needs to go to a country in South Asia where cricket is the national sport, it’s Sri
Lanka. He further reiterated on the cricket enthusiasm of Sri Lankans coming to watch the Australia-Sri Lanka match series, coming together to cheer for their team even when the country was going through a turbulent time. Mentioning all these facts, he expressed the value of this book for those who are interested in Sri Lankan cricket history and wished all success.
The event was made more colourful with a performance by a traditional dance troupe, and tokens of appreciation were handed over to each of the guests also especially to Nicholas Brookes, the author, by the Chairman of SLTPB, Chalaka Gajabahu in order to appreciate his effort and contribution. A special token of appreciation was handed over to Arjuna Ranatunga for his leadership and effort in winning the 1996 world cup and showcasing true leadership. It was a moment when all cricket lovers and cricket legends got together to reminisce on the good times, meeting legendary commentators including.Ranjith Fernando, Michael Tissera, . Premasara Epasinghe and cricketing giants like Brandon Kuruppu, Michael Thesera, Mevan Peiris, Mano Ponniah, .Lionel Gunasekara, . LR Goonethilleke, LCR Wijesinghe and .Yajna Tyagarajah- daughter of legendary cricketer/batsman, .Sathasivam and Ms Apsari Thilakarathne were among the distinguished attendees of the event.
Sri Lanka Tourism’s initiative of hosting such events will not only further strengthen the bilateral ties between the two nations, but also from a Tourism angle, this is considered a great opportunity to market the destination to sport-based travellers, especially cricket lovers in the UK who will be further encouraged to visit Sri Lanka with the hype that has been created by this book and take Sri Lanka Cricket fraternity towards a new dimension.
'Thought you knew Sri Lanka' by Dentsu, SLAITO and THASL
: In a bid to support the revival of tourism in Sri Lanka, the Dentsu Grant Group Sri Lanka and Dentsu India have joined hands to gift an integrated marketing campaign titled; "And you thought you knew Sri Lanka" to the tourism industry. The campaign was created specially targeting the younger Indian tourist market for The Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) and The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) to help them promote the country to this potential target market. With the latest data showing USD 10 Billion was spent by Indians on foreign travel, the time seems opportune to try to woo some of this market to Sri Lanka.
The new campaign positions Sri Lanka as an exciting destination that offers a wide array of experiences many that are little known and off-the-beaten track. The campaign launch event was graced by the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka - His Excellency Gopal Baglay; Harin Fernando MP Minister of Tourism and Lands; the President of SLAITO Nishad Wijetunga; the President of THASL - M. Shantikumar and the Chairperson of the Dentsu Group - Neela Marikkar, along with other industry stakeholders and social media influencers.
Commenting at the event, Nishad Wijetunga President of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) said, "The Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators and The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka are grateful to the Dentsu Grant Group for creating this very exciting integrated marketing campaign that will resonate with young Indian professionals who are seeking adventurous holidays, away from the stressful corporate environment. The campaign will highlight Sri Lanka's hidden gems, which offer authentic and unique experiences that appeal to the target demographic. The Indian market has been a key
support for Sri Lanka's tourism industry always and we believe this re-energized effort to attract more Indian Millennials and Gen Z's will be a win-win initiative for all parties and support Sri Lanka's economic recovery."
M. Shantikumar President of The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) commenting on the initiative said "Sri Lanka possesses a rich culture that is truly unlike any other in the world. And we think this campaign resonates with the core values and the mission we try to achieve through our association while really bringing out the idea that this little island can surprise you in all that it has to offer. We at THASL are excited to partner with SLAITO to bring Dentsu's idea to life and we also truly believe that the Indian market will be moved by the exciting and heartwarming experience created by Sri Lanka and its people, while helping the tourism
industry boom once again"
First-ever MICE Expo by Sri Lanka Tourism
by Chanaka de Silva
The event scheduled to be held at Shangri-La aims to draw over 150 participants from identified key markets. India, China, Russia, Australia, the Middle East, Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, Bangladesh and Pakistan are among them. Organized by Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) in association with Sri Lankan Airlines, MICE Expo will occur from 13 to 15 March 2023 at Shangri-La, Colombo.
The SLCB seeks to market the nation as a destination for both business and events. This boosts foreign currency inflow into the economy. The bureau is hoping to take advantage of the combined effect of pent-up demand, ease of travel restrictions, and regular
Sri Lanka with its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and modern infrastructure, has become a much sought-after destination for MICE tourism. The country offers a unique blend of business and pleasure, making it an ideal location for companies and organizations to host events, meetings and conferences in a professional and yet setting.
Sri Lanka is targeting US$ 300 million by the end of 2023 through tourist arrivals, earnings from meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. “MICE travellers spend three times more than leisure and other tourist segments.
Cinnamon Life partners as the host for the gala dinner, and Shangri-La serves as the hotel host. The MICE Business Forum, which will be hosted at the Galle face hotel, will provide an excellent opportunity for business networking, while MICE EXPO will showcase 22 exhibitors and 75 local vendors from Sri Lanka. MICE forum on 13 March, followed by the opening ceremony on 14 March, where B2B meetings between local MICE suppliers and buyers will take place. The event will be inaugurated by Tourism Minister Harin Fernando.
Noting that Sri Lanka’s geographic location has a greater advantage to develop the MICE tourism segment, he said the development of the sector is necessary for economic development as well as to reduce seasonality limitations by providing year-round tourism revenue.World-class infrastructure from hotels to many in-progress developments, such as Cinnamon Life, ITC Hotels and Port City Colombo, will also open more doors to growth and investments in the future.
Pics by Prabodha de Silva
Famed British naturalist to tour and promote Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan Airlines recently teamed with Jetwing Eco Holidays to sponsor the air travel of British travel writer and naturalist, Ed Hutchings, on his bird-watching tour of Sri Lanka, which will be featured in the Bird Watching magazine, UK. Hutchings’ work in Sri Lanka will help promote the island as a premier bird-watching destination in the UK. A strong advocate of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, SriLankan Airlines frequently collaborates with local tour operators and travel writers to promote Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka at Bocuse d'Or 2023 Grand Final
Bocuse d'Or- the coveted culinary competition named after Paul Bocuse has been taking place biennially in Lyon, France since 1987. In a resounding victory for our nation, Sri Lanka has qualified to compete in the Finals of the SIRH/+ BOCUSE D'OR 2023, which will be held in Lyon, France on the 23 of January. This is the 2nd time in the history of the event that Sri Lanka has been selected to participate in the Grand Final, the first being in 2013.
Following aggressive rounds of culinary competitions, top-notch training by the industry pioneers and nerve-wracking expectations, Team Sri Lanka's Chef Mihishan Silva of Hilton Residences together with Commis Chef Siyathma Perera of Waters Edge, coached by Executive Chef Priyantha Weerasinghe of Movenpick have qualified locally as well as within the region to take on the diverse flavours of Ceylon, with innovative dishes, on their quest for the Bocuse d'Or 2023 Grand Final. They will be using their gourmet abilities to compete against culinary champions from 24 nations. The team will be flown to France by Srilankan Airlines.
A competition eagerly anticipated by the hospitality industry, the Bocuse d'Or event extracts the very best of young men and women with a penchant to benchmark their gastronomical skills globally. Sri Lanka has participated in the competition since 2011, with the intention of grooming young and upcoming chefs to take on the challenging field of food and beverage. Speaking about the importance of events such as this, President of Bocuse d'Or Sri Lanka, Rohan Fernandopulle went on to state, "We believe that this is a great opportunity to position Sri Lanka on the global map promoting Sri Lanka as a tourist destination, and are excited to portray the skills and talents of our young Chefs." Adding to this, Director-Dilmah Tea, Roshan Tissaaratchy had to say, "Dilmah has supported Bocuse d'or Sri Lanka as part of the brand's commitment to innovation and tea gastronomy. Uplifting culinary standards in the country through the participation of Chefs and their apprentices in the global contest initiated by iconic Chef Paul Bocuse, is key to strengthening the hospitality industry in Sri Lanka and opportunities for Sri Lankans in the sector"
Furthermore, Trevin Gomez, Past President of Sri Lanka Hospitality Graduates Association, added how this was a proud moment for not just the 2 individuais representing Team Sri Lanka, but the entire culinary community and Sri Lanka as a whole itself. "The event is the most coveted competition in this craft, and it is a great honour to qualify for the Grand Final against some top notch contestants!"
The press conference to felicitate and wish the best of luck for the contestants was organized by Bocuse d'Or Sri Lanka, was held on the 11th of January 2023 at the Hilton Colombo Residencies. The event was graced by the presence of Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Tourism and Lands and the Ambassador of France to Sri Lanka and the Maldives His Excellency Mr. Jean-François Pactet.
MICE Tourism includes in the Tourist ETA system
An initiative of Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB)
Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) in collaboration with the Department of Immigration and Emigration has made arrangements to include MICE tourism in the Tourist ETA Application. https://eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ With the new arrangement, MICE travellers will recognize under the tourist visa category. MICE Tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions/Events), Weddings, Sports events and Pilgrims were included in the Tourist ETA application under the “Purpose of Visit”. SLCB is of the view that this facilitation will provide a solution for the long-lasting issue faced by the local travel industry on the unavailability of MICE statistics.
MICE is an acronym for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions/events. Globally, MICE Tourism has emerged as a key revenue-generating niche for the industry and has a clear separation from leisure tourism. It is not a new sector for Sri Lanka and it goes back to 1976 by hosting of fifth Non-aligned Summit in Sri Lanka.
As per the research findings, the global MICE industry would expect to reach $ 1.5 trillion by 2025 (Allied Market Research 2018 February). The International Convention & Congress Association (ICCA) published that the size of the global meeting industry is 860 billion USS in 2018. The discussion emphasizes that the industry is important to segment with growth potential. Although, MICE is a promising segment with high potential, the unavailability of statistics was a major drawback to benchmarking the Sri Lanka MICE industry. The main reason of the non-availability of MICE statistics was that the ETA system did not provide provisions to include MICE Tourism, weddings, and sports events in the Application form. Only Meetings and conferences have been categorized under the Business visa ETA. There is a gap of USD 10 between a tourist visa and business visas. Since, Meetings & conferences were categorized under a Business visa, most of MICE travellers were tend to obtain tourist visas instead of business visa due to the difference in visa fees.
Due to this reason, the real potential of the MICE industry could not be explored. Further, the in-house methods used by SLCB over the past years for data collection were not successful in capturing the data. With the facilitation of MICE under the tourist visa stream, MICE visitors and groups could now apply for visa under the tourist visa category. SLCB expects to make aware of the local travel
industry about the new facility and thereby all MICE visitors could be recognized.
Uga Jungle Beach celebrates 10th anniversary
Uga Jungle Beach, the second resort launched by Uga celebrated its 10th Anniversary on the 22nd of June 2022. Located in Trincomalee, the property is set in an entirely natural and harmonious blend of Sri Lanka’s most celebrated natural virtues, its wondrous beaches, and teeming jungles, which provide guests spectacular views of the ocean or the lagoon.
Uga Jungle Beach includes 48 luxuriously designed cabins nestled within luscious foliage offering utmost privacy and seclusion. Each 650-square-foot cabin is crafted from indigenous materials and furnished with king-sized beds, high-end entertainment systems, private decks, and outdoor rain showers. Uga Jungle Beach also offers guests a spa, gym, pool, expansive beach stretch, myriad of excursions hosted by resident naturalists and an open-air restaurant, which features several elegant signature-dining options on open decks on the beach and in the trees.
Renowned for its unparalleled service and facilities, Uga Jungle Beach has been a recipient of many awards and certifications including the World Luxury Lifestyle Awards 2012 and 2013, TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice since 2014, Booking.com Guest Review Award since 2016 and Recommended by HolidayCheck since 2015. It has also been awarded the highly sought-after TraveLife Gold certification for its pioneering efforts to promote sustainability in tourism.
To commemorate the property’s 10th anniversary, a religious and awards ceremony was held in the presence of Managing Director, Priyanjith Weerasooria, Chief Executive Officer, Ramli Ghafoor, and General Manager, Neranjan Morais. During the ceremony, long service certificates were awarded to team members for a period of service of 5 and 10 years, and certificates of appreciation were presented to all staff members.
Commenting on the Uga Jungle Beach’s 10th anniversary,. Priyanjith Weerasooria, Managing Director of Uga Escapes Management (Pvt) Ltd, said, “We are indeed proud to be celebrating our 10th anniversary. At Uga Jungle Beach, we have continuously worked closely with the local community by recruiting 50% of our staff members from the area and have completed cleaning & donation projects at local schools, hospitals and places of worship. We wholeheartedly believe in sustainability initiatives as tourism and sustainability are closely connected. Our aim is to provide our guests with an immersive experience with our signature local hospitality and we will continue to prioritise sustainability at the heart of everything we do.”
Uga is a fully owned subsidiary of Finco Holdings. Uga comprises Uga Ulagalla in Anuradhapura, Jungle Beach in Trincomalee, Uga Bay in Passikudah, Chena Huts in Yala, and Uga Residence in Colombo. Uga operates as a homegrown luxury brand that is committed to preserving natural splendour and indigenous culture whilst providing a unique accommodation experience.
Granbell Hotel Colombo opens in Sri Lanka
The Granbell Hotel Colombo recently opened its doors, warmly welcoming all to experience a fusion of Japanese and Sri Lankan hospitality. The property is owned and managed by the leading Japanese company Belluna Co. Ltd, a listed company on the Tokyo Stock exchange. The Granbell Hotel Colombo, adds to a growing portfolio of properties around the world owned and managed by Belluna.Co.Ltd. The hotel chain includes 17 properties in Japan, 1 in Hawaii, 1 in the Maldives and 2 in Sri Lanka.
The Chief Guest, HE. Mizukoshi Hideaki - the Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka together with several invitees including, Kiyoshi Yasuno - the President of Belluna Co. Ltd, graced the launch event for the hotel.
The launch of the hotel is in line with the long-standing friendship between Sri Lanka and Japan, which dates back over 70 years. The project commenced in 2016 with a foreign direct investment of USD 60 million. The construction was carried out by the Hazama Ando Corporation of Japan and was completed in line with the highest construction standards, combining Japanese architecture and Sri Lankan craftsmanship.
Today, the hotel provides a large number of employment opportunities for the local communities, in a post-pandemic era, further strengthening the economic revival of the nation. The hotel ensures high-quality Japanese service standards, and operations will be carried out with the strictest attention to detail and efficiency.
With a sustainable design concept with open-air corridors, the Granbell Hotel Colombo is located in proximity to the Colpetty Railway Station in the heart of Colombo and provides a host of exciting facilities and services. This includes a rooftop infinity pool & bar, gymnasium, spa, yoga, dance studio and an all-day dining restaurant. The hotel features a mix of Sri Lankan and Japanese design, and elegant interiors that match the coastal surroundings and vistas, promising an ideal island getaway.
Kiyoshi Yasuno, Chief Executive Officer of Belluna Co. Ltd commented, “The Granbell Hotel Colombo not only looks to become Sri Lanka’s newest city escape but also to revitalize the overall hospitality industry of the nation. The hotel supports significant investment opportunities in Sri Lanka which in turn, will also explore opportunities in the hospitality job market.”
While the Heads of Departments and staff are Sri Lankan, the hotel also brings forth Japanese expertise in terms of the General Manager and the Head Chef to offer an authentic combination of the two cultures.
Tourism in dire straits with proposed new tourism act - ASMET
Text and Pics by Chanaka de Silva
Sri Lanka (ASMET) lashes out at the failure of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority's (SLTDA) failure to take responsibility and take necessary action for the plight that is presently faced by the tourism industry today.
Addressing a recently held press meet ASMET Past President Rohan Abeywickrema said this was the singular most pressing issue faced by the industry as a whole. He further stressed that which supported the local population with both direct and indirect employment was in dire straits. with the Colombo City Restaurant Collective(CCRC) president Harpo Gunaratne, who was also present at the occasion of the 'One Industry One Voice' joint press conference held in Colombo.
Speaking further on the plight of the tourism industry Abeywickrema said, the negative travel advisories issued of Sri Lanka has already begun to take their toll. Several operators have reported cancellation and if the situation is not put right fast the Summer Season was going to be very bleak for the country as a whole. Also addressing the gathering Colombo City Restaurant Collective(CCRC) president Harpo Gunaratne said, today they are unable to keep up with changing prices of the ingredients needed. Further to cater to an international market one has to provide a diverse range of food which cannot be made using all local ingredients either. At this point, the SLTDA should step in and provide this industry relief informs of import exemptions and tax relief measures. But neither seems to be forthcoming so far. Besides the foreign tourist today the patronage of these establishments are made up of the local without whom the restaurant industry would have collapsed during the post COVID period. Further in spite of the tourism levy collected there has be promotional work done by the SLTDA for some time now and this is the time when it is most needed, he said.
When asked as to the reason why these pressing issues were not addressed, the table unanimously said that the present priority of the SLTDA was to change the Tourism Act and to complete this task all other priorities have been put aside. They also said while at this juncture this was what should take precedent it also did not serve any purpose. On the contrary on points noted whilst scrutinising the draft provided, it was found that certain well-established practices of certain committees being consulted on trade issues have been dropped. Also, give unrestricted access and the authority to dispose of the large land bak which is under the purview of the SLTDA at present. Further, the new proposed act centralizes all decision making power with the sole head of the SLTDA, whilst not demonstrating how this new act will improve the number of tourists to the country, they said.
Finally speaking further Abeywickrema said, the tourism sector is the most labour intensive industry in the country. It supports both direct and indirect
livelihoods to around three million people in this country. With the date drawing near to the expiry of the present tourism act the proposed does not provide and tangible solutions to the current situation nor promise better times to come.
Inspiring Indian Travel to Sri Lanka through the largest travel convention in 2022
(Pics by Prabodha de Silva)
In 2022 Sri Lanka is going to witness the largest Travel Convention ever held in the country where over 500 delegates from India will be attending to promote Si Lanka as a destination. TAAI (Travel Agents Association of India) is partnering with Sri Lanka Tourism and SLAITO to host their 66th annual convention in Colombo on the 19th, 20th and 21st of April. Sri Lanka had close to 500,000 Indian arrivals in 2018 and this number will continue to rise as the TAAI Convention takes place intending to inspire immense growth for inbound tourism in Sri Lanka from al parts of India and bring global media attention to the pearl of the Indian ocean.
With 500 delegates attending this event and 50 media invitees to get global coverage, the TAA convention will take place over the course of 3 days where the delegates will leam about the destination and interact with many inbound tour operators of Sri Lanka to initiate and develop new links between our country and one of the largest markets in tourism The prime members of TAAI India's premier travel and tourism association will be attending this 3-day convention to involve a wide variety of industry verticals and hopefully sign a Tri party agreement with Si Lanka Tourism and SLAITO. Hence all the parties involved will stand to gain
significant value in the long term.
The tourism minister Prasanna Ranatunga will be the chief guest and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau will be the main sponsoring partner for his first-ever TAAl convention in this holiday destination Slaito President Thilak Weerasing he said, "This is a great opportunity to create new connections between India and Sri Lanka and build towards the newfound, heightened interest n Sri Lanka after the borders opened last year" The Colombo Convention will not only be an exceptional inspiration for Indian travel, it is also a fantastic period to promote Sri Lanka and all it's stunning facets that make it a unique bucket list destination, amidst all the global media coverage. The focal points of the convention will be Sri Lanka inbound tourism, Indian outbound tourism, destination promotion and organising leisure. Inclusive of all segments from MICE, speciality events, sports tourism to airline ticketing and more.
French and Belgium press on a familiarization tour
Text and Pics By Chanaka de Silva
A French and Belgian Media delegation organized by Connaissance de Ceylan and Theme Resorts & Spas and Salaün Holidays successfully completed a familiarization tour of the country. An initiative of Connaissance de Ceylan and Theme Resorts & Spas, Chairman and Managing Director, Chandra Wickramasinghe, organized in collaboration with Salaün Holidays a leading tour operator in France.
Speaking at the press meet Wickremasinghe said, this team of travel journalists were specifically brought down so that they can see first hand the situation in the country and report. This has been confirmed judging by the responses of the media team. Further as there are a lot of French tourists who are keen to visit Sri Lanka we have taken this initiative to spread the word internationally that Sri Lanka is safe to Travel he said.
Also addressing the gathering Salaün Holidays, Chairman and Proprietor, Michel Salaün, said, we have been working for a long time and very satisfactorily with Theme Resorts. This is why we had no hesitation to come in organizing this media group to come and experience Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has a lot to offer and there is a big requirement to cater to. Once this team shares its’ experiences it has had we are sure that there will be a lot of French tourists who will then decide to visit Sri Lanka , he said.
During the four-day tour, the participants explored the cities of Sigiriya, Kandy and Colombo, three of the main attractions of any tourist who visits the island. The main highlights of the tour included the helicopter ride from the Colombo to Sigiriya, discovering the ancient Sigiriya Rock Fortress, inauguration of the Computer and Language Center in Audangawa, cookery demonstration at the “Nagula” paddy museum at Aliya Resort & Spa, Jeep Safari at the Minneriya National Park and Visit of Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy.
The Computer and Language Training Center in Audangawa was inaugurated by His Excellency Mr. Eric Lavertu, the Ambassador of France to Sri Lanka and Mr. Michel Salaün, the Chairman and Proprietor of Salaün Holidays who has always believed in contributing to the social and cultural development of the host countries. A CSR initiative of Connaissance de Ceylan conducted through R.e.V (Reconstruire et Vivre), this project would immensely aid in improving the English language proficiency and the computer literacy of the young students of the region.
The biggest group of media personnel from France and Belgium to arrive in the country since the Easter Sunday setback, the congregation consisted of 20 journalists representing 20 press and media enterprises in France and Belgium. The objective behind the familiarization tour was to showcase cultural and historical attractions of the country and to boost the tourism industry of Sri Lanka.
The media value of the event is immense, owing to the French and Belgian media partners who collaborated on this venture. Among the media personnel who participated in the familiarization tour was Emmanuel Langlois from France Info, a renown national radio broadcasting channel in France.
SOUTH ASIAN TRAVEL AWARDS OPENS NOMINATIONS 2020
By Chanaka de Silva
South Asia Travel Awards (SATA) announced the opening of nominations for the 2020 awards recently, SATA awards which had its' inaugaral ceremony in Sri Lanka has since held the 2019 SATA awards here in Sri Lanka as well.
The SATA awards is much awaited awards is held this year for the 4th time. Growing from strength to strength SATA has become one of the industry's more sort after and preferred awards. Serving Sri Lanka, Maldives, India, Nepal and Bhutan. SATA catering to all categories of in travel tourism sectors is fast becoming the industry's hallmark of standards. The prestigious annual event honours stellar organizations and individuals in a wide array of categories. This year SATA has added 9 more categories making it a total of 52 categories for properties and brands to compete, in addition to Visitors Choice Awards and Special Recognition Awards.
SATA has been endorsed by over 15 International and government agencies for its work to elevate tourism and hospitality in the
region. Properties can now nominate online via www.southasiantravelawards.com until 29th February 2020. SATA is yet to announce the evaluation period and online voting time. During the Grand Gala held last year, SATA announced to have the main event in the Maldives.
SOUTH ASIAN TRAVEL AWARDS
The South Asian Travel Awards (SATA) has been recognizing the best of South Asia’s hospitality and travel industry
since 2016. The prestigious annual event honors stellar organizations and individuals in a wide array of categories.
Strategic Plan 2017- 2020 wont fail - Kavan
By Chanaka de Silva
Speaking exclusively to CeylonBusinessNews.com, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman, Kavan Ratnayake spoke of the plans drawn out to improve the industry by 2020.
Sri Lanka Tourism has a clear set plan and mode of operation to bring the industry and all its stakeholders up. This is one industry that the benefits trickle right down to the grassroots. As a result, the government has placed the tourism industry among the highest of its’ priorities to develop to the next level, said, Sri Lanka Tourism, Chairman, Kavan Ratnayake. The future of the industry now depends on handling this stage very carefully. With the rate of growth, the country has experienced and along with it, the industry’s growth has given a clear indication of the potential.
For this purpose Strategic Plan 2017- 2020 has been formalized. This plan takes all stakeholders in tourism in their plan. Elaborating on the key areas Ratnayake said, this country can give more opportunities for investment and employment. These revenues could then be channelled into environmental support thereby helping communities in all parts of the island.
When asked about where the country would like to see the benefits of development showing fast yields, fast Sri Lanka Tourism, Chairman , Kavan Ratnayake said, the Home stays. This is the segment that people will see the direct benefit at grass root level. People with a room or two to spare can now let them out to tourists and see can immediate benefit. This is also an avenue for people to earn a little money. This will also provide the tourist with real experience of staying in the country. Tasting home cooked food, seeing the local area rather than the more popular sites, he said.
Commenting on the Sri Lanka Tourism Strategic Plan, Ratnayake said, the very realistic target of making the No. #3 net foreign exchange earners by the year 2020 with the target of US$ 7 Billion in earnings have been set. The present level of income stands at US$ 3.5 Billion for the year 2016. This in turn will support a 600,000 work force of which 10% will be women. The present US$ daily spent will increased to US$ 210 from the present US$ 164, he said. To achieve these goals, certain guiding principals have been laid. They are as follows; capturing benefits of tourism for Sri Lanka, democratization of economic participation, conservation and world class management of assets, local community involvement, memorable experiences rooted in heritage, responsible destination marketing and safety and security for all. As today tourism is about experience rather than only seeing a place it is important to see that all stake holders are made aware of the importance of upgrading our skills and facilities. As the future development will stem from visitor segmentation this is vital Ratnayake said. International Source markets Mainstream Market Segments, Niche Markets and Domestic Markets are the segments that tourism will fall into in the future.
To feed the growth and make this sector sustainable to the above segments sustainable destinations must be developed. Sri Lanka can accommodate a greater diversity of visitors who could stay longer. To achieve this every visitor should have world class experiences where ever possible. This tourist would on their return home will promote Sri Lanka to others because of the experience they had. Achieving this depends on the total immersion of all stake holders of the industry in the development of it, he said.
When asked what chances of this Strategic Plan succeeding over where several other have failed , Ranayake said, This Strategic Plan has taken all stake holders into the picture. Everyone involved in the industry will be a part of the upgrades and the benefits. We will educate every stake holder why their contribution and participation is vital for the success of this program. The success that will be achieved will be a collective effort. With the engagement of the workforce and communities in this drive it cannot fail, he concluded.