MARCH 2014 EDITOR IN CHIEF Harsha Udayakantha Peiris CONSULTANT EDITOR Renuka Bandaranayake DEPUTY EDITOR Rathindra Kuruwita SUB EDITOR Rikaza Hassan CONTRIBUTORS FROM MAIDEN ISSUE Prof. Rohana P. Mahaliyanaarachchi Dept. of Agri Business Management of Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka Dr. Iraj Ratnayake Dept. of Tourism Management of Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka Dr. Ashoka Dangolla Senior Lecturer of University of Peradeniya Sri Lanka and Veterinary Specialist Anslem de Silva - The President of Amphibia and Reptile Research Organization of Sri Lanka (ARROS) Dr. Ruchira Somaweera – Senior Zoologist, BIOLOGIC Environmental Survey, Australia Vasantha Nugegoda – Zoologist and Animal Habitat Specialist Chamalka Kothalawala – Taxidermist, National Museums, Colombo Sri Lanka Chandima Jayaweera – The Most Outstanding Chauffeur Tourist Guide (Nature & Wildlife) SLTA 2012 Raju Vyas – Gujarat, India Sujitha Miranda – Veteran Journalist Indaka karunadasa – Journalist Teshani Wanninayake - Freelance writer Sri Lanka Tourism National Museums Colombo
PHOTOGRAPHY Aloka I de Silva Chandima Jayaweera Maheesha Mindula Warna Liyanawatte Sanju Samarasinghe Suranga Cooray K. Herath Achintha Dahanayake Upul De Zoysa
SRI LANKA – THE GIFT OF NATURE
BE INSPIRED AS THE NATION TRANSFORMED
BUTCH HICKS A US NATIONAL WHO RECENTLY VISITED EXPERT INSIGHT INTO SRI LANKA’S 5 HUB STRATEGY SRI LANKA UNVEILS THE BEAUTY OF THE ISLAND TO FOR DEVELOPMENT THE REST OF THE WORLD.
ECONOMY BENEFITS TREMENDOUSLY FROM TOURISM
LAKSALA CHAIRMAN ANIL KOSWATTE IN AN INTERVIEW DISCUSSES OF SRI LANKA’S POST WAR ECONOMY AS A WHOLE AND GIFT AND SOUVENIR INDUSTRY IN PARTICULAR.
CULTURE THROUGH AGRICULTURE – NATIONAL AGRI TOURISM CONFERENCE 2014
A SPECIAL NOTE ON THE NATIONAL AGRI TOURISM CONFERENCE 2014 HELD RECENTLY AT SLF IN COLOMBO.
OF MASKS LACE & METAL WORK
A BRIEF OVERVIEW FOR AN IN-DEPTH NAVIGATION INTO PROMOTING TRADITIONAL CRAFTS OF SRI LANKA
Bharatha Gunathilake Chief Executive Officer Global Media Holdings (pvt) Ltd
Santhush Fernando Head Of Business Promotion Nilan Wijeratna Head of E- Marketing
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ROLE OF PRINT MEDIA IN PROMOTING AGROTOURISM IN SRI LANKA
THE REMARKS BASED ON THE PRESENTATION OF MEDIA’S RESPONSIBILITY AND CHALLENGES IN PROMOTING AGROTOURISM IN THE ISLAND. BHADRAWATHI STUPA BUILT DURING THE LATTER PART OF 1947 ON A BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF MOUNTANIOUS LAND AT GALAHA CLOSER TO THE CITY OF KANDY IS A BEAUTIFUL DESTINATION THAT OFFERS PEACE OF MIND.
BHADRAWATHI STUPA AT GALAHA – AN UNFORGETTABLE ENVIRONMENTAL DESTINATION
EUPHORIA SPICE & HERBAL OF THE SPICE CAPITAL
A SUCCESS STORY OF A SPICE VILLA LOCATED IN THE SPICE CAPITAL OF SRI LANKA – MATALE ON THE MAIN ROAD FROM KANDY TO DAMBULLA THAT MAKES A PART OF THE MAIN A 9.
HIKING ALONG TO PORAGALA VANTAGE POINT
PORAGALA VANTAGE POINT IS LOCATED IN BANDARAWELA AND IS MERELY LOCATED IN WALKING DISTANCE JUST 3KM AWAY FROM THE TOWN. THERE ARE THREE PATHS THAT ONE CAN REACH THE TOP OF THE VANTAGE POINT, A PICTURESQUE DESTINATION.
THE WORLD’S TALLEST FREESTANDING BUDDHA STATUE AT MALIGAWILA
MALIGAWILA SITUATED IN THE MONERAGALA DISTRICT, 15KM FROM BUTTALA TOWN TOWARDS OKKAMPITIYA BAZAAR IS VERY FAMOUS FOR ITS COLOSSAL BOSATH BUDDHA STATUE, ANCIENT FORT, THE PALACE COMPLEX AND THE TEMPLE.
ANANTAYA OPENS ITS DOORS, UNVEILING INFINITE POSSIBILITIES
PUTTING A STOP TO THE BRUTAL CIVIL WAR AND HERALDING PEACE WAS THE BIGGEST INCENTIVE GIVEN TO THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY, WHICH LED LAUGFS HOLDINGS TO VENTURE IN TO HOSPITALITY SETTING UP ITS SUBSIDIARY – LAUGFS LEISURE AND CONSTRUCT THE ANANTAYA RESORTS AND SPA
GANTHERA ECO – THE EXTREME EXCURSION
SITUATED FEW KILOMETERS AWAY FROM THE CITY OF KANDY AND IN CLOSER PROXIMITY TO THE TOWN OF DIGANA IS THE ‘GANTHERA ECO’ THE EXTREME NATURE EXCURSION VENUE.
THE KINGSBURY CULINARY CHALLENGE 2014
KINGSBURY HOTEL COLOMBO IDENTIFIES ITS STAFFS’ BIGGEST STRENGTHS AND PORTRAY THEIR TALENTS IN SUPPORT OF PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE.
A CLARION CALL TO HOTEL CLARION
EXPLORING CNNGO EXPLORES THE SERENE SRI LANKA
CNNGO SHAKES IT UP IN THE ISLAND NATION OF SRI LANKA TO TASTE OF ITS WORLD RENOWNED SEAFOOD.
RED BULL SOUNDS BATTLE CRY FOR SOUTH AND EAST COAST SURFERS
SRI LANKA SET TO GET HIT WITH A HEAVY SURGE OF SURFING PASSION AND EXCITEMENT AS RED BULL RIDE MY WAVE PIT THE BEST SURFERS FROM SOUTHERN SHORES.
HOTEL CLARION IN KIRIBATHGODA STARTED AS A HUMBLE BUDGET HOTEL IN THE 1990S HAS IN TIME BECOME ONE OF SRI LANKA’S TOP TRANSIT HOTELS.
WOODEN MASKS OF SRI LANKA WOOD CARVING IS ONE OF THE OLDEST CRAFTS THAT ARE STILL PRACTICED IN SRI LANKA. AMONGST, DEVIL WOODEN MASKS CARVED ON WOOD ARE EXTREMELY POPULAR AMONG BOTH LOCALS AND FOREIGNERS AND SRI LANKA’S SOUTHERN COAST , ESPECIALLY THE CITY AMBALANGODA, IS FAMOUS FOR AUTHENTIC SRI LANKAN WOODEN MASKS. LEARN MORE ON SRI LANKAN WOOD CARVINGS AND WOODEN MASKS AT THE INSIDE STORY ON CRAFTS IN THIS EDITION OF SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND. Pix by; Maheesha Mindula 10 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
BE INSPIRED as
nation transforms Expert insight into Sri the
Lanka’s 5 hub strategy for development Background pics: SLTI Library | Conference pics: D.K.Welikala
n exclusive Management Conference organized by the MBA Alumni Association of the University of Colombo and the premier National business newspaper Daily FT was held recently at the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Colombo with the participation of the Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa as the Chief Guest. The conference themed “5 Hubs – Fiction or Reality” included guest speeches, key presentations and panel discussions under banner ‘BE INSPIRED AS THE NATION TRANSFORMS. The speakers and panelists included industry leaders and authoritative policy formulators. The programme was targeted at the Sri Lankan business community as well as CEOs, Senior Managers and Middle Level Managers from both private and public sector organizations. CAUSE FOR A WORTHY COURSE A broad framework to secure Sri Lanka’s 5 hubs concept namely, the maritime hub, aviation hub, commercial and tourism hub, knowledge hub and energy hub for its growth in the global economy was outlined in the document ‘Vision for Sri Lanka -2030,’ as clearly depicted in the policy document ‘Mahinda Chinthana – Vision for the Future,’ of the Government of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. “The objective of our next massive leap forward is to transform Sri Lanka into a strategically important economic centre of the world. My determination therefore, is to transform Sri Lanka to be the Pearl of the Asian Silk Route once again, in modern terms. Using our strategic geographical location effectively, I will develop our motherland as a Naval, Aviation, Commercial, Energy and Knowledge Hub, serving as a key link between the East and the West.” Mahinda Chintana -Vision for the Future
As well expressed in Mahinda Chinthana in 2005 and 2010, Sri Lanka envisaged to become the Emerging Wonder of Asia has set targets amidst a rapid ongoing infrastructure development process. “My Intention is to generate environment friendly sustainable tourism instead of relying only on leisure seeking popular tourism.” (Mahinda Chintana 2005, p-59) “..will introduce an accelerated development programme for the tourism industry. I will launch a programme to fulfill the infrastructure and other requirements in order to attract 2.5 million tourists annually, by the year 2016.” (Mahinda Chintana 2010, p-94) FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT DERIVED FROM COMMERCIAL AND TOURISM HUB PRESENTATIONS AT THE CONFERENCE. The Sri Lankan tourism industry is one of the fast emerging industries of the economy with average annual revenue of US $ 400 million at present. It is the sixth largest foreign exchange earner in Sri Lanka. It has created employment for about 125,000 persons. At present, nearly half a million tourists visit the country every year. There are 242 registered hotels with 14,461 rooms and 629 supplementary establishments with 5,946 rooms to cater to tourists visiting Sri Lanka. Average spending per tourist per day is US$ 81.8 and average duration of stay is nine days. Sri Lanka has exotic sandy beaches, large greeneries, historical artifacts, a good climate, spectacular landscape in the highlands, a rich biodiversity and friendly and welcoming people. These distinctive opportunities will be utilized to develop the tourism industry as a major growth sector in the development of the economy.
12 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
The government’s vision is to transform Sri Lankan tourism sector, by 2020, to be the largest foreign exchange earner in the economy; position Sri Lanka as the world’s most treasured and greenest island and attract high spending tourists while preserving the country’s cultural values, natural habitats and environment. The government has targeted 2.5 million tourists by 2016 and an additional room capacity of about 45,000 to meet this target. This sector is also expected to receive investments in excess of US$ 2 billion in the medium term in areas of luxury hotels, high quality residencies and high end shopping malls. The multiplier effect in the investment on tourism is envisaged in the construction, furniture, transport and food and beverage industries in the country. Estimates reveal that these industries will provide employment to about 100,000 persons along with the new investments. MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 13
INCREASE OF TOURIST ARRIVALS AND EARNINGS The sector is expected to attract more than four million tourists by 2020. The sector is also expected to generate employment for about one million persons and income amounting to about US $ 8 billion. EXPECTED TOURIST ARRIVALS AND EARNINGS(2010-2020)
Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa being escorted to the venue of the conference. Secretary for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce - Anura Siriwardena, Chief Editor of the Daily FT Newspaper – Nisthar N Cassim and President of the MBA Alumni Association University of Colombo - Saranga Wijeyarathne are also in the picture
Regional cooperation will be strengthened to increase tourism openness through the relaxation of regulatory barriers. International and local air lines are encouraged to operate in Sri Lanka. Comprehensive market promotion campaigns will be implemented to build a positive perception on Sri Lanka globally. A Tourism Centre will be established of special cultural importance to Asia to attract religious tourists from neighbouring countries. Major cities of the country will be developed to be attractive tourist cities in Asia. PROMOTION OF UP-SCALE TOURISM Up-scale tourism will be promoted and high spending tourists will be the target group. Spending per tourist per day is expected to rise over US $ 200 during the next ten years.
Support will be extended to local entrepreneurs to construct Ayurvedic healthcare centres which could lead to an increase of tourists. Government and private owned agro farms are developed as tourist attractions. Community based tourism and tourist villages are also to be promoted to increase value change in tourism based activities linking with rural economy, harvesting seasons, wild life, farming practices, art, culture and religions. With the implementation of e-tourism solutions and efficient delivery of visitors’ information, it is easy to promote new destinations. FOCUS ON NEW MARKET The new markets such as America, East Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Australia are being attracted. A state-of-the-art information centre will be established for tourism promotion utilizing e-commerce tools. Promotion campaigns will be implemented with the participation of Sri Lankan diaspora and missions abroad. overseas market promotion activities will also be encouraged. DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM INFRASTRUCTURE
Eco-luxurious experiences for up-scale tourists will be ensured. International shopping facilities will be promoted in major cities to assure shopping experience for tourists. Participants from public and private sector at the conference.
Instead of relying upon cheaper products, the tourism sector will be encouraged to create regional tourism brands. This will lead to create competitiveness in tourism and will attract more of up-scale tourists. DIVERSIFICATION OF TOURISM Tourism products will be diversified with special emphasis on eco-tourism. Adventure tours (safaris, jungle tours, mountain trekking) will be provided, tapping the tourism potential of the natural topography and the ecological values of the country.
Chief Editor of the Daily FT Newspaper – Nisthar N Cassim presenting a token of goodwill to Parth Tevari – the Lead private Sector Development Specialist of the Competitive Industries practice at the World Bank Group at the conference
Underwater exploration, aquatic adventures and sports in the sea, natural water streams and reservoirs are some targeted activities to be promoted under the tourism development strategy. Boat riding facilities will be improved in major reservoirs and rivers. Facilities will be improved for exploring magnificent coral reefs, coastal fishing, and dolphin and whale watching. Bird watching opportunities will be popularized and improved.
14 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
Accommodation facilities will be increased with the construction of 50,000 hotel rooms to cater to the expected increase in tourist arrivals. Basic infrastructure such as road network, townships, telecommunication facilities, restaurants, resting facilities and water supply in all main cities and tourist sites will be developed to create a conducive environment to promote tourism. visitors’ facilities will be improved. Day and night recreational centres and parks, as well as urban forestation will be established in order to build a relaxing environment in main cities.
NEW DESTINATION PROMOTION Implementation of flagship infrastructure projects for development of the tourism zones on the Western and Eastern coastal belt has already been undertaken. MAKING TOURIST ATTRACTIONS AND EVENTS POPULAR Local and international tourists will be offered a wide range of attractions and events. A database of tourist attractions and facilities will be created and an events calendar will be published. Promotion of festivals such as the literary festival, tea festival and food and fruit festival to attract more foreign and domestic tourists will be undertaken. THE EVENT CALENDAR EVENT
MONTH OF THE YEAR
Sinhala/Hindu New year Festival
vesak /Poson Festivals
Adam’s Peak Season
December to April
PROMOTING DOMESTIC TOURISM Domestic tourism will be facilitated by providing adequate accommodation facilities at affordable rates. Assistance will be provided to residents of popular tourist destinations to start small comfortable houses for tourists at reasonable rates. All religious places of worship will be developed. The historical places will be upgraded and ancient city tours will be arranged. Special promotion campaigns will be conducted to popularize unpopular tourist sites in Sri Lanka through electronic media and printed material. Domestic travel packages will be arranged with the participation of luxury bus service providers and local hotel service providers. opportunities will be created to open up internal airlines and sea plane services. A sound cooperation and coordination
among public and private sectors, and tourism organizations will be ensured through the establishment of a “Domestic Tourism Unit”. The formed unit should consist of statistical information like number and variation of tourists, number of overnight stays, accommodation facilities used and change in tourism activities according to the age, gender, level of education and wealth of tourists. Domestic tourist quotas at discounted prices will be allocated to meet the recreational needs of low and middle income tourists. The setting-up of theme parks with water related adventures, modern roller coaster rides, recreational facilities and other services will be promoted through the public-private partnership basis. International sport competitions such as cricket, Rugby and athletics are further areas to be promoted in sport tourism. The facilities for meetings, conferences and exhibition will be improved promoting the MICE industry. Fully fledged international convention centres will be established. DEVELOPING INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALISM The government will improve productivity of the tourism industry, through building professionalism in the travel and hotel industries. The private sector will be encouraged to set up world renowned
human resource development centres to meet the emerging needs of the tourism industry locally and abroad. Hotel management and tourism promotion subjects will be provided in the curriculum of university academic programmes. Simultaneously, the government will extend maximum support to the private sector training institutions with a view to maintaining the standards of services. Licensing of tour guides in order to standardize their service (through a competency test) and accreditation of travel agents will be undertaken. CONSERVATION OF FAUNA AND FLORA AS TOURIST ATTRACTION Sri Lanka has a very high degree of species diversity with a high rate of endemism. It also lies on a major bird migration route and provides a critical habitat to many migratory birds. In keeping with its strong tradition of conservation, about 13 percent of the total land area is protected under the Department of Wild Life Conservation (DWC). This is made up of 21 National Parks, three Strict Nature reserves, four Nature reserves, one Jungle Corridor and 61 Sanctuaries. The reduction of species richness and natural habitats as a result of unregulated human activities in protected areas threatens our wildlife and leads to an endless man—animal conflict.
MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 15
The strategies for achieving a policy of wild life management will include; integrating bio-diversity management and conservation, expansion of the DWC’s responsibilities and equipping it with a greater degree of professional skills, the conservation of elephants and concomitantly mitigating the human-elephant conflict which will be given a high priority, determining the carrying capacity of protected areas, which will increase the sustainability of protected areas through zoning and corridor development, strengthening the DWC’s skills, which will enable them to manage protected areas effectively, improving wild life research which will contribute towards effective management decisions, developing and improving infrastructure facilities within the protected areas, together with habitat management, visitor facilities in national parks will be developed to cater to the satisfaction of tourists as well as establishment of optimum protected area network in the Northern and Eastern Provinces that conserve the biological diversity while protecting important watersheds and opening up opportunities to facilitate ecotourism development activities. New safari parks, dry zone botanical gardens and zoological gardens will be established to meet the increasing demand for public recreational facilities. Construction of a new safari park
at Ridiyagama in Hambantota and the establishment of Mirijjawila dry zone botanical garden have already commenced. Initial steps have been taken to establish a new zoo at Pinnawala / Wagolla in an 800 acre extent of land. IMPROVING SERVICE STANDARDS Safety standards and security aspects of tourism will be given a high priority. regulatory bodies will be strengthened to ensure the quality standards of products and security aspects of tourists. rules, regulations and institutional mechanisms relating to the protection of tourists and the environment will be strengthened. Strict policy vigilance and monitoring will be conducted to minimize tourism related crimes and abuses. Peradeniya and Haggala botanical gardens will be developed as the hub of botanical research in the region. Educational materials on flora and fauna will be developed and published to enhance the awareness of both domestic and foreign tourists. As a result, more tourists will be attracted to these areas. Nihal Fernando – Director General of the Urban Development Authority acted the Main Presenter at the Commercial Hub presentation at the conference
16 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
whilst Anirvan Ghosh Dastidar – Chief Executive for the Standard Charted Bank in Sri Lanka, W.K.H.Wegapitiya – Founder Chairman of LAUGFS Gas PLC; Prema Cooray – Chairman of Citrus Leisure PLC, Dileep Mudadeniya – Head of Brand Marketing of Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts and Vice President of John Keels Group and Mano Tittawela – Senior Presidential Advisor on Economic Affairs acted panelists at the presentation. Ajith Nivard Cabraal – Governor of the Central bank of Sri Lanka, Saliya Wickramasuriya – Director General of the Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat, Dr.Priyath B.Wickrama – Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Parth Tevari – the Lead private Sector Development Specialist of the Competitive Industries practice at the World Bank Group, Dr.Sunil Jayantha Navaratne – Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Nisthar N.Cassim – Chief Editor of the Daily FT, Madu Rathnayake – Head of Digital SVP & GM – Virtusa, Dinesh Weerakody – Chairman of Commercial Bank, Saranga Wijeyarathne President of the MBA Alumni Association University of Colombo and a large number of professionals from public and private entrepreneurial and economic development sectors were also present at the conference.
Sri Lanka THE GIFT OF NATURE Pics. By Butch Hicks
Sigirya rock at a distance
Historical ruins at Sigiriya
utch Hicks a US national who was in an exclusive hotel investment tour recently visited Sri Lanka for the second time after several years to witness the truly growing infrastructure sector that is benefiting the rapidly growing industry of travel and tourism. In his visit to this beautiful country this time, Butch visited Kandy, Nuwaraeliya, Sigiriya, Trincomalee, Galle, Mirissa and Yala sanctuary. Following is a pictorial essay of his experience captured on lense on few of the most unforgettable and breath taking moments during his stay in Sri Lanka. (Special thanks to Jayanath Mudalige)
Butch Hicks (right) and Jayanath Mudalige (left) 18 â€˘ SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND â€˘ MARCH 2014
The lion's mouth at Sigiriya
Historical ruins at Sigiriya
Frescos at Sigiriya
MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 19
KANDY AND SUBURBS
Butch at a way-side fruit stall tasting a fresh home grown mango
Arts and architecture Temple of the most sacred Tooth Relic
Gadaladeniya Temple premises
The revered Bo tree at Lankathilake Temple
The down stream at Victoria Dam site
A different view - Temple of the most sacred Tooth Relic 20 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
Victoria Dam and reservoir
The last king's court complex - Temple of the most sacred Tooth Relic premises
The historic Pagoda at Lankathilake Temple
Of fire and the human touch
Mask dancers performing in Kandy MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 21
Stilt fishing in Down-South
Fishing in Trincomalee
A fishery Harbour in Trincomalee
Catchment waters in the central hills
A ritual in Katharagama
22 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
A light house in Down-South
ON THE WAY TO NUWARAELIYA
An estate power house on the way to Nuwaraeliya
Houses - Nuwaraeliya
Waterfalls on the way to Nuwaraeliya
MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 23
tremendously from tourism Opines Laksala Chairman Anil Koswatte Text by Santhush Fernando
Sri Lanka’s post war economy as a whole and gift and souvenir industry in particular had benefited immensely from tourism, and Sri Lanka Handicrafts Board – Laksala was determined to ensure that these benefits trickle down to village level", said an adamant Laksala Chairman, Anil Koswatte in an interview with the Treasure Island. “Laksala recorded an impressive 70% revenue growth in January and February this year and with more and more tourists coming into Sri Lanka thanks to the visionary leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the rural economy will be much benefitted,” Koswatte- the mastermind behind its turnaround said in a confident tone.
“As Laksala, we are targeting Rs 10 billion by 2020 as shopping is and will continue to be a major priority for tourists into Sri Lanka. As a result Rs 7 billion will trickle down to rural economy via Laksala by 2020. Creative industries will be a top job provider and Laksala will transform craftsmen into craft entrepreneurs. Laksala will become one of the largest employers/ job provider by 2020 and craft entrepreneurs will see their income surge by tenfold,” Koswatte added. “President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s thinking greatly uplifted rural SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) to reach global markets and the ‘Small economy’ concept under Mahinda Chinthana provided tremendous impetus to Lakasala. Under Divi Neguma, Laksala synergies will jumpstart 250,000 enterprises and triple our supplier strength by 2020. We are hopeful of tapping 25,000 budding and upcoming suppliers who in turn will support 10 to 15 craft entrepreneurs. Laksala will setup its own research and development arm (R&D) to boost rural economy and empowering rural women will be an imperative goal for Laksala. If we are to prevent women of becoming housemaid and bring back our women trapped in dangerous situations in the Middle East, it is vital that we have opportunities and adequate training for these to become entrepreneurs. Furthermore, Sri Lanka needs Craft & Gift Design courses extending to degree level in order to cater to growing market,” Chairman Anil Koswatte opined. According to him, with Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals from emerging markets rising steadily it was imperative that the requirements of these new markets from China to Russia to India were taken into account. Tourist arrival in February 2014 rose 24.5% Year-on-Year (YoY) to 141,878, with India, Russia and China leading the list, data released by the country’s tourism authority showed. Arrivals in the first two months of the year were up 28.5% YoY to 288,453, according to Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). From the East Asian region, China topped with its arrivals which include Hong Kong and Macau rising by 63.9% YoY to 10,319 while Japan too was up by 6.6%. Arrivals from Eastern Europe increased 55.5% with the arrival of 22,927 tourists for the month while arrivals from Russia increased by 92% to 9,723. Tourist arrivals from Middle East rose in February by 16.8% to 4,919. The first two months of the year recorded 50,88 East Asians
as arriving in the island, an increase of 57.6% . China recorded a 119.2% increase with the arrival of 21,098 in the first two months of the year. Arrivals from South Asia increased by 22.9% in February 2014 with 25,979 tourists visiting the island while, arrivals from India increased 21.5% to 17,534 in February. “Sri Lanka met its tourist arrival target of 1.2 million for the year 2013 with the numbers rising by a remarkable 26.7%. So achieving 2.5 million by 2016, as envisioned by President Mahinda Rajpakasa is not at all impossible.” “With the structural revamp of Laksala, during year 2010 – 2012 sales increased sharply from 44% (20102011) to 75% (2011-2012). Sales improved by 48% during the first quarter of this year compared to last year, which is a reflection of the success of the organization's new mission and approach. On an average, around 500 customers visit Laksala daily and of them 200 to 300 are foreigners. There is a significant growth in the sales of souvenir goods.” GOING GLOBAL The newly-revamped Sri Lanka Handicrafts Board last year announced that it was eyeing to venture into the South Asian region in particular and Asia in general, under its own brand name 'Laksala' "We are determined to venture into the South Asian region in general, India in particular. We are also looking at China, which is a growing market. In addition, we have got many inquiries even from countries such as United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia which have significant expat communities to set up ethnic stores, where Sri Lankan products will be showcased under 'Lakasala' brand name. We have had inquiries from even areas such as Hong Kong and Taiwan," said Koswatte. “We have sought the assistance of Industries and Export Development Ministry to take this initiative further by opening trade showrooms in potential markets through Sri Lanka's embassies around the world. We are also exploring the possibility of hosting promotions in strategic international markets.” "We hope even go for a listing in the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE). We will set up several subsidiaries. Laksala Import and Export Services arm will be established to import raw materials to produce gift and souvenir items including handlooms and batiks and MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 25
raw materials for interior decorations and provide necessary construction facilities as well." HUMBLE BEGINNINGS With the objective of popularizing and promoting the Sri Lankan handicrafts industry both locally and globally, Laksala was inaugurated in 1964. The next 50 years saw Laksala going through many hardships and financial setbacks due to numerous reasons and was often referred to as an 'under-performing entity.' By the year 2008, Laksala was considered as an inactive government organization and was set aside to be wound up. However, with the intervention of the then Minister of Small Industries and SelfEmployment, Laksala was restructured through a Memorandum of Cabinet dated 23 December 2008, to be an entity that was limited for marketing activities. However, since Laksala continued to operate as a loss-making organization, through a special gazette notification dated 15 May 2009, initiated under the direction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Laksala was placed under the guidance of Strategic Enterprise Management Agency (SEMA) for restructuring and re-modification. During the period of 2008 and 2009 the company was underperforming due to various reasons and even did not have sufficient funds to pay salaries to the employees of Laksala. Debts accumulated to over Rs 10 billion. FAR-REACHING REVAMPING “Due to this extreme situation of Laksala, President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed SEMA to see whether the Board can be revamped as the last resort of making Laksala a viable entity preserving traditional arts for the future generations.”
export finished gifts and souvenirs or any other value added products including furniture. Laksala Micro Financing will be set up to exclusively to provide finance for village craftsmen and rural suppliers.” "We hope to venture into Laksala Recreation, Hotel and Property Management Services in order to operate and manage luxury boutique type hotels with gift and souvenir shops. We have also mooted Laksala Lifestyle Decor and Engineering Management Solutions to promote the use of local
As a result of the direction made by the President, in 2008 a government directive was issued that Laksala should be restricted to make it profitable and more relevant to the demands of customers. Therefore, the management of Laksala embarked on a programme to streamline operations and reposition the organization. Under the creative leadership of the current Chairman, Anil Koswatte the gradual progress of Laksala was accelerated. The management of Laksala identified that the institution would be more competitive if it was seen as more than simply a ‘marketer’ of handicrafts and instead ventured into cover the whole gamut of ‘gift and souvenir category’. During the restructuring programme,
26 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
many brand building activities were carried out to reinforce the 'Laksala' brand and ensure top-of-mind recall among customers looking for gifts and souvenirs representing Sri Lanka. This included re-designing and re-positioning the Laksala logo to make it modern and attractive. Laksala has several competitive advantages being the biggest and the oldest business chain in this sector. This sector has great potential and demand especially among tourists. Its products are recognized as genuine and of high quality. In line with this approach, Laksala expanded its product category to include souvenirs such as masks, gems and jewellery, Ceylon tea and spices, handloom and Batik items, leather products and ceramics. We also share the same values with the rural community of commitment, while preserving traditional craftsmanship which is an integral part of our national heritage. Laksala is highly recognized as a trusted retailer, supported by the strength of a state institution now. An intensive branding exercise carried out and several main outlets were extensively refurbished into modern, attractive showrooms. The showrooms are re-designed to be one-stop-shops (OSS) for customers to get a range of varied gifts and souvenirs. These outlets more effectively showcase the wide array of products that Laksala has to offer and the beauty of Sri Lanka's traditional gift and souvenir products. A significant investment was made on a new showroom in Race Course, Katubedda and to upgrade the Laksala flagship store in Thummulla, Colombo 7. These outlets have proved remarkable improvement in sales and increase in earnings on yearon-year basis. At 11 strategic points outlets were refurbished and new branches were added to enhance the sales network. Currently, Galle Museum and Colombo Fort outlets are being refurbished and modern showrooms at Welipenna stopover along the Southern Expressway and Pinnawala were opened in a modern atmosphere appealing to the customers. Laksala opened its landmark store in the Colombo Museum premise on the 1 August, 2014. Positioned as the Laksala Museum Gallery Café, the state-ofthe-art showroom falls under the Divi Neguma social development scheme. The plush outlet is designed in a manner that preserves the outlook and national heritage depicted through the National Museum. In the opening month of last August itself, the National Museum Gallery Café saw a remarkable sales
record of Rs. 13 million and was largely patronized by tourists from European destinations. “Looking towards the future, we will continue to expand our branch network following careful evaluation of locations. We have also looked at the possibility of opening up a branch in the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) in Hambantota, but we still have not finalized. According to our branch expansion programme we expect to have 15 outlets by the end of the 2014.” CUSTOMER-FRIENDLY STATE ENTITY With these changes, Laksala has now become a modern, customer-friendly and financially viable state-owned institution. “To improve the service levels of employees, we have identified that Laksala required staff that were in tune with the modern marketing approach
that the organization was adopting. At present we are creating new concepts for the traditional arts and skills. We have opened our arms for new ideas and inventive quality products.” Laksala has been working closely with the National Crafts Council, National Design Centre, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Faculty of Design of the University of Moratuwa and Academy of Design to improve product designs while maintaining the authenticity of traditional gift and souvenir items. Laksala had also tied up with the Faculty of Design of the University of Moratuwa for freelance designers, and also purchases products from foreign designers who reside in Sri Lanka as well. “At present we have well over 6,000 registered craftsmen who supply and bring in over 25,000 varieties of items. Laksala has created space for our designers and suppliers to showcase their crafts and products at exhibitions.” The organization has also entered into an agreement with the Bank of Ceylon
to provide craftsmen with financial assistance to expand their production capacities. Laksala further intends to obtain the services of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) to certify the authenticity of gems and the standard of precious metals used in jewellery offered for sale in Laksala outlets.
items and am glad I was brought to Laksala. They have a vast range of handmade items on display. After going through many of the products I purchased a range of elephants. I am glad Laksala has a coffee shop, since until I finish walking around my husband is able to enjoy a cup of coffee”.
BOOSTING RURAL CRAFTENTREPRENEURS
“As a first timer to Laksala, I must say that I am very impressed with the collection of traditional items. As foreigners we look for traditional and unique items. What I like most about this outlet is its ambiance and the helpful nature of the staff. I liked the antique guns on display and the silver plated elephants. I will definitely visit this store again when I come to Sri Lanka next year with my friends,” mentioned Sri Ranga from Andhra Pradesh, India.
In a bid to boost village craftsmanship, Laksala synergized with 'Divi Neguma' Programme envisioned in the 'Mahinda Chinthana' manifesto and introduced by Economic Development Ministry to uplift the rural community by improving local products, whilst improving rural entrepreneurship, livelihood and making a positive impact on rural poverty reduction. New collection centres will be opened at provincial level through the 'Divi Neguma' programme to source new products, making Laksala a meeting place for diverse traditions from different parts of the country. The expected cost of this programme is Rs 250 million of which Rs 100 million has already been granted from the Economic Development Ministry. "We are poised for growth supported by the commendable performance of Sri Lanka's economy, the flourishing tourism sector and increased government support for the development of the local gift and souvenir industry. As tourism is the main driver of demand for gift, souvenir and traditional Sri Lankan handicrafts items, this indicates the immense potential that exists for this industry," he said. Laksala will work closely with other state design and training institutions so that the gift and souvenir category can be developed into a substantial foreign exchange earner and become internationally recognized. TESTIMONIALS “This is my second visit to Laksala. On my previous trip I stopped by at the Laksala outlet in Galle. This showroom is very spacious and has everything. I bought tea and the small elephants for my friends and family back at home. The staff is very friendly. I think this is the ideal place to finish your holiday,” said Philip Gasser from Switzerland, who is visiting Sri Lanka for the third time with his family. Commenting on the showroom, Narja, a tourist from Kuwait, who is traveling around Sri Lanka with her husband noted, “This is my very first visit to Sri Lanka. It is a beautiful island. I like handmade
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LACE METAL WORK Text by Rathindra Kuruvita Pics. by Maheesha Mindula
inhalese art and tradition have always had a rich and long-lasting association with India. The majority religion of Buddhism, which influences much of the symbolism in motifs and designs in Sri Lankan handicrafts, has come to Sri Lanka from India through the emissaries of King Asoka. King Vijaya was of the Brahman faith and so were his descendants. However, in 307 BC, Buddhism was brought to Sri Lanka by Arhath Mahinda, son of King Asoka of Kalinga in India. King Asoka's daughter, Sangamitta also came to the country later, bringing along with her the Buddhist faith. When Sangamitta came to Sri Lanka in the year 288 BC, she brought along with her a branch of the sacred Bo tree (pipal tree) under which Gautama Buddha had attained enlightenment. Sangamitta also brought along with her some members of the royal family, some members of the nobility, and artisans. Apparently 1,000 artisans from Madura accompanied the Pandyan princess to Sri Lanka. They included goldsmiths, blacksmiths, brass-founders, carpenters, stone-cutters, potters and weavers.
month, SRI LANKA " This THE TREASURE ISLAND looks at several of Sri Lanka's most popular handicrafts. This brief overview will assist the reader in navigating the more in-depth stories in this issue dedicated to promoting traditional crafts of Sri Lanka.
Barring its sandy beaches, ancient cities and unique ecosystems, Sri Lanka is known for its traditional crafts, which are often practiced by artisans whose families have been doing this for millennia. Fearfully secretive about their techniques, these artisans now depend heavily on tourism to sell their products - crafted by rudimentary tools using indigenous raw materials. Despite modernity and the relaxation of entry barriers, often each traditional craft is practiced by members of a specific socio-occupational group and perhaps with the exception of jewellery is still a cottage industry. Despite the efforts of the artisans to preserve the 'purity' of their crafts, and not excluding the continuation of unique characteristics, the industry has also been subject to change. A few handicrafts, which combine modern raw material and traditional technology, like batik and handlooms, introduced only in the last few decades, have become popular. On the other hand, changing social norms and regulations have either contributed to the success or meant the end of a particular craft. For example ivory and tortoiseshell handicrafts, once sold at large, are no longer available in Sri Lanka due to legal restrictions. This month, SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND looks at several of Sri Lanka's most popular handicrafts. This brief overview will assist the reader in navigating the more in-depth stories in this issue dedicated to promoting traditional crafts of Sri Lanka. WOOD CARVING AND DEVIL WOODEN MASKS Wood carving is one of the oldest crafts that are still practiced. The fact that Sri Lankan artisans were expert wood carvers capable of designing and sculpting the most intricate designs can be seen at the Lankatilaka Temple and Embekke Devale in Kandy. In addition, sketches of colonialists who visited the Kotte, Seethawaka and Kandyan kingdoms depict exquisite wooden ornaments, furniture and other wooden decorations. Although Sri Lankans are still the main consumers of wood carvings and furniture, a whole industry catering to foreign tourists has emerged in tourist zones and sites. Statues of elephants, Buddhas and Hindu deities are the top sellers, we were told by wood carvers, who added that they are making their products increasingly smaller so that a visitor does not hesitate to purchase in fear of baggage weight or space concerns. Devil wooden masks (Vesmuhunu) are also extremely popular among both MARCH 2014 â€˘ SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND â€˘ 29
locals and foreigners and Sri Lanka's southern coast, especially the city of Ambalangoda, is famous for this. The masks were/are used in various dramatic folk rituals in the country like 'bali' or 'kohomba kankariya,' (devil dances) and can be classified as representing demonic, animal and human figures. While demonic and animal masks date back millennia, human figures are more recent. Artisans often use the wood of the kaduru (strychnos nux vomica) tree for their masks as the wood is light and the texture is easy to carve on. Trunks of kaduru are dried in the tropical sun till the moisture in the timber evaporates. Then it is cut into the appropriate size. The artisans create the rudimentary shape of the mask using chisels and mallets. Seasoning of the timber follows - by smoking for six to seven days in a hearth. The seasoned piece of timber is carved, smoothened and painted. METAL WORK Metal work is another ancient and popular craft industry in Sri Lanka that uses varied metals and alloys including gold, silver, brass, tin, lead and iron, as well as their various alloys. Although modern technology has somewhat reduced the manual work needed, artisans, especially those working with brass, remain fixed in their ways. Brass is the most common ornamental metal used outside of jewellery, and brassware, popular in the Kandy Distict, is produced using two main techniques: cut and cast. Bowls, tea services, trays, and ornamental items are often produced using the cut technique. On the other hand, coconut oil lamps, pots, bowls, vases, wall plaques, trinket boxes and other household utensils are made using the cast technique. Brass castings are done by the “lost wax” method: the model is sculpted in wax, covered with clay, and baked so that the wax is melted out leaving the mould made of clay. Then molten brass is poured into the clay mould. The casting technique is also often used to produces elephants, Buddha images, bowls, lamps and candlesticks which are popular among tourists. Cutwork, on the other hand, involves embossing a pattern onto a flat sheet of metal and then embellishing the work by engraving, hatching, or repousse to produce items such as trays and plaques. Repousse is the most characteristic type of Sri Lankan metalwork, used on brass, copper, silver, or all three together, to create a variety of traditional designs.
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BATIK Batik, the process of creating intricate patterns on textiles with wax-resistant dyes has Indonesian roots; 'titik' in Bahasa means drop. The technique was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Dutch and has developed independently with little similarities to the art that prevails in Indonesia now. Batik manufacturers, from artisans to branded fashion labels, make shirts, sarongs, dresses, shorts, wall hangings, cushions covers, bed hangers and a multitude of décor items. The time consuming technique in producing high quality batik involves waxing and dyeing of cloth on which the design is done, multiple times. In the end, all the wax is scraped out and the cloth boiled. The cloth is made to better absorb the colours of the dyes by the use of hydrochloric acid. Drying in the sun brightens up the colours. The number of colours in batik is the precise indication of the number of times it was immersed in the dye bath and application and removal of wax. That is to say a multicolored design of Batik involves a great deal of work than a batik design in just a couple of colours. The patterns are generally drawn on the white cloth with the help of a template.
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32 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
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HANDLOOM TEXTILES AND LACEWORK The history of handloom clothing in Sri Lanka goes back to the beginning of our history. It is said that when the first Sri Lankan King Vijaya arrived in Sri Lanka, Kuveni, his future wife, was weaving a cotton dress. Although the 1980s and early 1990s were a bleak period for the industry, the handloom textile industry has experienced a remarkable resurgence in recent years, mainly due to the popularity of handloom saris among Sri Lankans and the demand from tourists. For the most part, the overwhelming majority of handloom textile producers are rural women, and functions as a cottage industry. These women often sell their products to retailers or government institutions like Laksala. Handloom textiles are used now to create items from household linen to writing pad covers. The handloom woven cotton and silk textiles, with the combination of traditional designs blended with modern trends, are exquisite as well as expensive. Although polyester is now being used to cater to those who like handlooms but have a tight budget. Lace making shares many similarities with the handloom industry. It is predominately done by rural women and for the most part is a nice cottage industry. Lace making however is not an indigenous art and was probably introduced by the Dutch to the Galle area. Soon it became an established local craft and during the 19th century, when Galle was at its zenith as a port, lace items became popular with passengers. Today, the art is suffering a crisis as new entrants are declining while the existing generation of lace makers are aging.
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The panel at the Head Table at the conference. From left, Mr.Maddumabandara Weerasekara – Director of the National Productivity Secretariat, Prof.Mahinda S. Rupasinghe – Vice Chancellor of the Sabaragamuwa University, Prof.Rohana P Mahaliyanaarachchi – the Senior Professor of Agri Business Management of the Faculty of Agriculture Sciences of the Sabaragamuwa University, Joselito Cruz Bernado Director of the Agriculture Department of the Asian Productivity Organization(APO) International organization based in Tokyo, Japan and Dr.D.B.T.Wijeratne – Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Culture through Agriculture National Agri Tourism Conference 2014
Text by Harsha Udayakantha Peiris | Pics by Santhush Fernando
ational Agri Tourism Conference 2014 jointly organized by the Department of Agri Business Management of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the Sabaragamuwa University and the National Productivity Secretariat of the Ministry of Productivity was held on 17th and 18th February 2014 at the Sri Lanka Foundation in Colombo. This two day conference on Development and promotion of Agri Tourism Education and Industry in Sri Lanka was sponsored by the Asian Productivity Organization in Tokyo, Japan. Mr.Joselito Cruz Bernado Director of the Agriculture Department of the Asian Productivity Organization(APO) International organization based in Tokyo, Japan, was the Chief Guest at the event. In a special note on the conference, Prof.Rohana P Mahaliyanaarachchi – the Senior Professor of Agri Business Management of the Faculty of Agriculture Sciences of the Sabaragamuwa University stated that the main aim of the conference was to create greater awareness among policy makers, economic planners and key stakeholders in the agriculture and tourism sectors on the concept of agri tourism as a strategy to create alternative income opportunities for farming communities , develop the alternative tourism sector and as a tool for revitalizing the rural economy. The conference consisted presentations from international and national resource persons, stakeholders’ consultation sessions and discussions, presentations by real agri tourism experiences and finally preparation of action plans for development and promotion of Agri Tourism Education and Industry in Sri Lanka. The modules covered at the conference included; Government policy and programme on rural tourism in Sri Lanka, global and regional tourism trends and prospects for agri tourism in Sri Lanka, models of agri tourism such as experiences in other countries in Asia, agri tourism enterprises in Sri Lanka and their key features and performance, role of stakeholders in development and promotion of agri tourism, promoting and marketing of agri tourism and strategies for the development of agri tourism in Sri Lanka.
A part of the professional participants and stakeholders at the National Agri Tourism Conference 2014.
Prof.Rohana P Mahaliyanaarachchi – the Senior Professor of Agri Business Management of the Faculty of Agriculture Sciences of the Sabaragamuwa University expressing views stated that following the introduction of a course unit namely, Agricultural Tourism as an optional course for the final year students of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, the operations of the Agrifac Farm Stay at the ‘Farm Bed and Breakfast’ basis at the faculty farm was commenced in 2010, and the first batch of students for the Agricultural Tourism course unit was registered accordingly. “Already 85 students who followed the Agricultural Tourism course unit have passed out from the faculty in three batches by now,” he said. “Agro tourism development takes place in an integrated manner and can have advantage of many added extras and be sold as one product. We have activities but we lack having finished products. It is one of the major objectives of organizing conferences like this to encourage and acknowledge stakeholders and other interested parties,” Prof.Mahaliyanaarachchi added. Joselito Cruz Bernado Director of the Agriculture Department of the Asian Productivity Organization(APO) International organization based in Tokyo, Japan speaking at the occasion stated that APO’s support to the conference was part of its program to promote productivity and develop rural enterprises through promotion of Rural Tourism. “ Our Rural Tourism Program encompasses Ecotourism and Agrotourism. APO has been promoting the concept of Community-based Rural Tourism, Ecotourism and Agrotourism since 2006 to create employment and sustainable livelihood in rural areas and minimize the rate of emigration of rural population to urban areas,” he said. APO is supporting member countries to revitalize rural communities by creating new enterprises anchored on untapped rural labor and natural resources. It has organized Multi-country Study Missions with participants from all APO member countries on Rural Tourism to Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia, in 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively. Workshops and Training Courses on Agrotourism in Sri Lanka and Malaysia were conducted in 2010 and 2012 and Workshops and Training Courses on Ecotourism in Nepal, Philippines and Fiji were conducted in 2009, 2011 and 2013 respectively. Aside from the Multi Country OSMs, APO has supported national initiatives in
organizing national conferences and workshops to facilitate dissemination of knowledge and best practices on a wider scale at national level in Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal, and this year in Sri Lanka and Lao PDR.
Prof.Rohana P Mahaliyanaarachchi
the Senior Professor of Agri Business Management of the Faculty of Agriculture Sciences of the Sabaragamuwa University speaking at the inauguration of National Agri Tourism Conference 2014.
“ Sri Lanka is endowed with natural resources and unique agriculture landscapes. There are greater potentials for Sri Lanka to be a tourism hub in the region over the next 5-10 years. Furthermore, the rapid economic development of the country will increase the income of the general public which will provide them with capacity to spend for their rest and recreation, especially for those based in the urban areas, to go to enjoy the rustic ambiance and healthy environment in a farm setting. Therefore, This conference is indicative of the great interest stakeholders have on the subject of agrotourism in Sri Lanka,” Bernado said. In the year 2011, Asia and the Pacific had 260 million international tourists, with the highest growth in South Asia and Southeast Asia (+9%). China had come number 01 in the rankings with 57.58 million tourist arrivals, followed by Malaysia with 24.71 million, Hong Kong with 22.32 million, Thailand with 19.10 million, Macau with 12.93 million, Singapore with 10.39 million, South Korea with 9.80 million, Indonesia with 7.65 million, India with 6.29 million and Japan with 6.22 million international tourist arrivals for the year 2011.
Mr.Joselito Cruz Bernado
Director of the Agriculture Department of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) International organization based in Tokyo, Japan, speaking at the National Agri Tourism Conference 2014.
Prof.Rohana P Mahaliyanaarachchi
the Senior Professor of Agri Business Management of the Faculty of Agriculture Sciences of the Sabaragamuwa University introducing the official print media publication Sri Lanka the Treasure Island to the audience at the inauguration of the National Agri Tourism Conference 2014.
Sri Lanka the Treasure Island, the high end monthly international travel and tourism magazine acted the official print media partner of the two day conference. Dr.D.B.T.Wijeratne – Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Prof.Mahinda S. Rupasinghe – Vice Chancellor of the Sabaragamuwa University, Mr.Maddumabandara Weerasekara – Director of the National Productivity Secretariat, Mr.P.U.Rathnayake – Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Dr.Iraj Ratnayake – Senior Lecturer of the Department of Tourism Management at the Sabaragamuwa University, Dr.W.K.Athula Gnanapala – Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management of Sabaragamuwa University, Dr.S.H.P.Malkanthi – Senior Lecturer of Agri Business Management of Sabaragamuwa University, a number of local and international professionals of agri tourism and its operation, Government officials of tourism sector, stakeholders including entrepreneurs of agri tourism around the country and a number of university students also attended the conference.
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A handmade plantable paper book
ROLE OF PRINT MEDIA IN PROMOTING AGROTOURISM IN SRI LANKA (Based on the presentation made by Harsha Udayakantha Peiris – the Editor in Chief of SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND at the National Agri Tourism Conference 2014 at the Sri Lanka Foundation (SLF) in Colombo) Pics; by Santhush Fernando SRI LANKAN FACTOR Sri Lanka is a tropical island in the Indian Ocean that has been one of the major tourist attractions in the world, since long. At the end of a long civil war, tourism is once again, booming in the island. The rich rural tourism resources in the country has created a great appealing to the visitors from many parts of the world. Such resources range from fauna and flora, aesthetic landscapes, streams and waterfalls, irrigation tanks and canal systems, beautiful beaches, mouth watering tropical fruits and vegetables, historical monuments, music, dance, festivities, authentic foods, beverages, traditional agriculture, local costume, indigenous medicine and healing methods, traditional arts and sports and many more. The island caries an overwhelming majority of rural population which will continue well into the middle of the century. Interestingly, rural agricultural characteristics have also been preserved to a great extent in many parts of the country as those areas have not yet received much urban influences. Similarly, economic problems as well as development potentials still remain in agricultural areas side by side. Although the vast rural agro tourism resource base is being utilized by the industry, yet it has brought little or no benefits to rural people. This is purely, due to the fact that only a small fraction of this vast green economic base has been utilized by the industry, today. Therefore, dedicated research and field work on agri - tourism, is required to promote the sector and these activities should involve the assistance and participation of relevant authroties, policy makers, rural communities, private investors and publicprivate partnerships on a sustainable manner while trickling down a reasonable fraction of the benefits to the rural people. This, in return, would diversify the agricultural livelihoods of the rural farmer communities and improve their incomes and living standards. 38 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
VISIONERY DEFINITIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION In the vast literal context, agri-tourism has been given ample scope of which several are interestingly, attractively and elaborately expressed. According to some interestingly found sources, agri-tourism, as it is defined most broadly, involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. Agri-tourism has different definitions in different parts of the world, and sometimes refers specifically to farm stays. Elsewhere, agri-tourism includes a wide variety of activities, including buying produce direct from a farm stand, navigating a paddy cultivation or corn maze, picking fruit, feeding animals, or staying at a farm on Bed and Breakfast basis. In another visionary definition, this is a segment of tourism in which customers stay in accommodation on working farms and may have the opportunity to help with farm work. The concept of agri-tourism is also a direct expansion of ecotourism, which encourages visitors to experience agricultural life at first hand. ACKNOWLEDGING FOR BETTERMENT
Amongst many other leisure opportunities here, it is always benifitial to add innovative initiatives as well. As we already have farmstays, homestays, foreststays as well as eco excursions, time is rich to introduce some new things that may include riverstays, chenastays; where guests engage working on a chena and living on a tree hut in the premises which is still appearantly endemic to few extreme rural areas of the country, extreme eco stays that offer only the basic facilities and that open an avenue towards real adventure of trekking and survival on available natural resources in a thick vegetation and community service through agri-tourism as well. PROMOTING THROUGH PRINT MEDIA Promoting agri-tourism through print media therefore, has brought and introduced an innovative trend to journalistic literature to promote tourism through print media for a worthy cause. Amongst many, it is a new option for the tourism print media to explore and an opportunity for the print media to help eliminate poverty in sub, mid and extreme
Agri-tourism is gathering strong support from small communities elsewhere in the world as rural people have realised and they have been well acknowledged the benefits of sustainable development brought about by similar forms of nature travel. Visitors have the opportunity to work in the fields, farm yards or ranches alongside real farmers and wade kneedeep in the sea with fishermen hauling in their nets. We may not forget the fact that Sri Lanka is the best known destination in the region to offer the first hand experience on Stilt –Fishing especially along the southern coastal line. But we have not yet been able to utilize this segment in a sustainable manner in the travel and tour trade. UTILIZATION OF OPTIONS South Asia, since past, is well known for its centuries old agricultural based rich civilizations. Overwhelming majority of people in the region is still living in rural areas and they are engaging in agriculture in one way or the other as their livelihoods. Introduction and promotion of community based agrtourism products would be much useful therefore, for inclusive growth of the industry. It would also help to distribute the benefits of the industry among a large segment of the society in a number of countries in and outside the region. This would also bring a welcome relief to eleminate the rural poverty in many parts of the region.
rural areas. The print media should address to promote and highlight unknown and less identified destinations, in consideration of agri –tourism an effective mean of addressing towards youth unemployment issues. The columns on agri-tourism in print media would also help promoting green living, bringing back decaying authenticities, bringing market to regional agro products and services, upgrading regional food-life concepts, promoting global access to distant and rural communities, assisting to keep sub-cultural usages alive, contributing distinct agro-
information to the readership to explore, guiding towards effective combination of local and foreign travel & tour trade, energizing readership and interested parties to explore greener destinations, promoting to offer greener holiday packages for healthy living, promoting to have first hand cultural exchanges via agro-technologies and traditions practiced, creating global awareness on best greener agro destinations and continually attracting tourists and travellers to greener agro destinations. MINIMIZING IMPACT FOR EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION To minimize the impact and promote agri-tourism as a viable and marketing venture in the industry of tourism and travel trade, all stake holders in the sector including public and private partnerships and other relevant authorities should extend help for travel & tourism media to exchange literature & other material to publish, to maintain and update agro websites for quick and easy access for reception of accurate information on location, activities, weather, climate, facilities and etc., promote supplementary publications on agro & eco ventures on special occasions such as Environmental Day and Forest Day, to have access to statistics and data on improvements and developments for monthly and annual analysis to be published for the readership, to release reliable information to new media, to establish a networked data base and centralized information desk to obtain information on all Agro & Eco Tourism locations and destinations in the country and to introduce a directory that updates quarterly or annually with inclusions of precise information on all agro and eco tourism ventures, locations and destinations in the country. National Agri Tourism conference – 2014 has made the best platform to highlight the timely importance of such initiatives to offer proper publicity and propaganda accurately to attract clients and custormers to agri-tourism bases from many nooks and corners of the globe. COMMITMENT THROUGH PUBLICATION Through the past 08 magazines of SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND (SLTI), the high end international monthly tourism publication since its inception in April last year, SLTI has carried out more than 16 presentations that include, feature, e- interviews, discussions, pictorials and research type stories to lure tourists and travellers towards the booming eco and agro tourism sectors in Sri Lanka. The presentations have always sought the
MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 39
visionary exchanges of professionals at home and outside the country. The magazine in its future editions will focus more broadly, the developments and emerging trends of the sector in Sri Lanka, that will largely share the worldly trends to effectively cater towards this segment of the industry. It is therefore, appriciative, that the magazine has been chosen the official publication of National Agri Tourism Conference 2014. FOOD FOR THOUGHT At one of the local telecommunications provider’s exhibition cubicle at the recent CHOGM Business Forum held in Sri Lanka parallel to the international Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013, one of the very best Agro-souvernirs was gifted to guests at their exhibition cubicle which had a greater potential having been offered to lure a farmstay customer in return, as a souvenir or as an investment on his or her return home. This particular product is a book that could be used to write notes or paste pictures or to scribble. But the best foot note is found on the last page. It has been themed ‘PLANTABLE PLANET’
“Living in a land blessed with an abundance of fauna and flora, we truly appreciate the importance of ‘village wisdom’; keep the earth living to live off the earth. In keeping with our Sri Lankan belief, this special handmade ‘plantable paper’ is made from Pumpkin, Cucumber, Green Chili, and Eggplant seeds mixed with Elephant Dung. It is sourced from a small and medium sized cottage industry which provides sustainable livelihood to rural Sri Lanka. Once you finish using these pages, soak it in water and plant it in the earth,” the book says. POST SCRIPT The latest infrastructure projects launched by the Government of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa has given boost to many spheres, island-wide to efficiently work towards the development of socio-economic sectors including the development of travel trade and tourism in the country. On such context, during recent times, there has been a tremendous increase in the interest,
surrounding the concept of agri-tourism, and this country is no exception. Especially, Sri Lanka’s complex paddy cultivation systems developed over the past course of 2500 years, huge ancient irrigation reservoirs and many tea and rubber plantations are only some mere examples of its diverse agricultural developments, and agri-tourism will be catering to a niche market of agro tourists. The booming travel and tourism industry in Sri Lanka at present, is receiving major opportunities to make the world recognise of its agricultural and ecological presence and use it as another tool to reach the goal of achieving 2.5 million visitors by the year 2016. The sector is also offering a golden opportunity for the SME sector and large scale tourism stakeholders to participate in many a new venture like eco and agri-tourism. It is therefore, noteworthy to correctly direct towards the accurate way we should promote and brand our eco and agro products as well as services via media, through the learning, recognition and understanding shared and exchanged between the other friendly nations around the globe.
Spice & Herbal
of the Spice Capital
uphoria Spice & Herbal located in the spice capital of Sri Lanka “Matale” is a spice garden on the main road from Kandy to Dambulla that makes a part of main A9. Spices are a part of Sri Lankan’s culture, history, value and plays a vital role in Sri Lankan cuisine giving a unique aroma and taste to its traditional dishes. At Euphoria Spice and Herbal, visitors get to see where the produce of spices comes from, smell, touch and see them grow on trees, plants, roots and also learn about Sri Lankan Ayurveda and their benefits. The venue has a range of spices to see from pepper to the famous “Ceylon Cinnamon” which can be seen enough, in a lush 2 acre cinnamon plantation and customers get to see the inner bark of cinnamon peeled. Euphoria Spice & Herbal also exhibits the climbing of a coconut tree to pluck its fruit and how coconut is husked and peeled from scratch.
GRINDING STATION Sri Lankan spices, millet flour and curry preparations were grounded from the mortar and pestle, grinding stones and chili stone which consists of a heavy slab of granite and roller. Here, visitors can step into the shoes of a traditional village cook and grind like the olden days, make the famous Sri Lankan curry powder, scrape some fresh coconut by the traditional scraper, grind the millet flour using the traditional stones and prepare some fresh hot finger millet Roti on a traditional stove! PREPARE YOUR OWN MEALS They can also witness the uses of coconut husks and coconut leaves thatched into a roof. If you love Sri Lankan cuisine, well, the Euphoria Spice & Herbal has cookery classes for you with recipes to take them with you. Fish Ambulthiyal, chicken curry, banana blossoms are some of its favorites to show off to the guest and all cooking sessions take place using the traditional clay pots and coconut spoons. After cooking this all up, visitors can taste and enjoy the meal they have cooked at the restaurant “ Aroma” located beside its own cinnamon plantation. Visitors can enjoy this relish Sri Lankan cuisine on a banana leaf! adding its own aroma and flavor to the dish.
SPICE OUTLET Its outlet has a wide range of Ayurveda medicines, oils, skin care and spices, Spice and herbs here include; ginger, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cocoa, cinnamon, aloe vera, turmeric, vanilla and a range of Sri Lankan Ayurveda plants. Plantations include; Pineapple, Cinnamon, Pepper and Coconut. Euphoria Spice & Herbal also has a small farm which consists of 7 cows including 2 calves used for milking and grazing. Customers can even enjoy a glass of fresh milk. N.B. Cookery classes and lunch should be booked in advance through email or phone. PHONE: +94 77-2709107 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org Bookings can also be arranged via; www.euphoriaspice.com MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 43
Bhadrawathi Stupa at Galaha an unforgettable environmental destination Text and pix by Harsha Udayakantha Peiris
andy, the capital of the central hills is a revered city for a large number of Buddhist temple sites many of which are not frequently visited due to their locations on harsh geographical arrays. Bhadrawathi temple at Galaha along Kandy Peradeniya road is one such location not only for its religious reverence but also for its unsurpassed beautiful serenity of environment. To reach, one may cross the Hindagala- Galaha main road that runs across the University of Peradeniya up to Galaha down town and turn to the newly built Buddhist Clergies’medical centre. Bhadrawathi Stupa has been built by a lady namely, Bhadrawathi during the latter part of 1947 in her name, on a beautiful piece of mountainous land that belonged to her which she had offered to Buddhist clergy. The main Stupa has been built on top of a small shrine room that is surrounded by four white color Stupas. The main Stupa has been fully covered with bronze plates. A ‘Bo’ tree grows on one side of the site closer to the main Stupa. The path to the Stupa that starts from the Buddhist Clergies’ medical centre consists of around 400 step stones which is in a perfect array for a good trekking. One has to stop for a while half way to take a long breath and to see the scenic beauty around in a bird’s eye view. The scenery is ideal to catch on lens to show the beautiful bird’s eye view of several distant mountain areas and regions situated beyond the city of Kandy to a friend.
A distant pine plantation that could be seen from the site
The tea plantation beyond and down the Stupa premises. In a distant Galaha – Pupuressa road could be seen
BHADRAWATHI STUPA HAS BEEN BUILT BY A LADY NAMELY, BHADRAWATHI DURING THE LATTER PART OF 1947 IN HER NAME
Bhadrawathi Stupa built on top of a small shrine room surrounded by four white color Stupas. And fully covered with bronze plates
The ‘Bo’ tree art the site
The Buddhist Clergies’ medical centre built where the path to Bhadrawathi Stupa starts
The most breath taking sceneries are met at the top of the mountain. An early bird to the top of the mountain at sunrise would catch the sight of, a number of beautiful landscapes that could be seen in the steep valley down, covered with a lighter film of mist. These distant areas that could be seen from the top include Gampola and Nuwaraeliya districts, the site of the University of Peradeniya and the suburbs of Kandy city limits. For a traveller or a tourist in Kandy, the site of Bhadrawathi Stupa is the perfect destination for a good trekking. The vivid bio diversity at the site that grows as one climbs to the top is of course a thing to study and catch on lens. In brief , the site of Bhadrawathi Stupa is a virgin land that should not be missed by a nature lover to the historic city of Kandy.
A distant view of a tea factory
A distance view of Hantana Mountain range
The stretch of paddy fields seen in distance
Residential areas and ranges of mountains that could be seen in a distance
The premises of the University of Peradeniya covered with mist MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 47
Maligawila standing Buddha statue
THE WORLDS TALLEST
Buddha statue AT MALIGAWILA Text and Pics by Indaka Karunadasa
aligawila is located in the Buttala Divisional Secretariat division in the Monaragala District. It is 15km from Buttala town towards Okkampitiya bazaar.
Maligawila is very famous for its colossal Dambegoda Bosath standing Buddha statue, its ancient fort and palace complex, as well as for the Maligawila Raja Maha Viharaya. The areas of Okkampitiya and Maligawila are surrounded by gorgeous paddy fields, corn and banana cultivations, and gem mining areas.
The Maligawila standing Buddha statue is Sri Lanka’s tallest freestanding Buddha statue, not to mention in the world. This statue was rediscovered in 1951 when the Okkampitiya region was being colonised. It was found broken into pieces on the ground. This colossal Buddha statue is 35 feet and 8 inches tall and dates to the 7th Century BC. According to Sinhala legends, the statue was built by King Aggabodhi. A few attempts were made to rebuild the statue but all attempts failed until in 1991 when late Prime Minister Ranasighe Premadasa, with the State Engineering Corporation, renovated it.
A Gate House
The statue was surrounded by an image house, now lying in ruins. This large house consisted of an area of 104 square feet. Beside the doorway are baluster stones with images carved on them. And before the doorway is a unique moonstone made out of white crystalline marble rock. It has images of animals such as horses, elephants and cows, on it. MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 49
Half a kilometre to the left of the Maligawila statue is the Dambegoda statue. The Dambegoda statue is of God Awalokitheshwara Natha who belongs to Great Path in Mahayana Buddhism, and was built on five stages. There is another god named as Maitriya. In the statue, God Matriya’s crown consists of an image of a Pagoda while God Awalokitheshwara Natha’s crown consists of an image of a meditating Buddha. The God Awalokitheshwara Natha’s statue was constructed by King Dappula I, a brother of King Aggabodhi.
In front of the Awalokitheshwara Natha statue is a pillar inscription by Mahinda IV (956-972 AD) in the tenth year of him being crowned. The inscription records the actions taken by King Mahinda IV to uplift the Buddhist order and some rules laid down for administration. The ancient fort wall and palace complex along with the royal court are also situated near the statue. The square perimetered fort walls with wall gates and stone pillars are still in good condition. The foundations of the royal palace and court can also be seen. The wall contains a large entryway meant for horses and elephants. All the small gates/doors are locked from the inside, and the locks are visible even today. A few yards away from the wall can be found the royal bath, with steps leading into the pond. The Maligawila Raja Maha Viharaya is also located a few metres away, near the main entrance. Rev. Unapane Chandajothi Thero is the chief incumbent of the Viharaya. When you visit Maligawila do not forget to meet with Rev. Unapane Chandajothi Thero as he is always pleased to educate visitors about Maligawila history.
Rev. Unapane Chandajothi thero
Baluster Stone 50 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
The statue of god Awalokitheswara Natha on five stages above
Pagoda at Maligawila Raja Maha Viharaya
God Awalokitheswara Natha
An ancient rock carved water vessel
Dambegoda Pillar Inscription
Terra cotta images
Life size baluster
Crown of god Awalokatheswara Natha - An image of Buddha can be seen carved on it
MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 51
Hiking Porogala along to
Text and Pics. by Indaka Karunadasa
orogala vantage point is located in Bandarawela. It is merely located in walking distance just 3km away from Bandarawela town. There are three ways that one can reach the top of the Porogala vantage point.
One is to travel along the Poonagala road by bus or by foot up to Mahaulpotha junction and walk up to Mahaulpotha Nigrodharama temple. ( about ¼ km) and if not, along the Kandearrawa road by bus for a distance around 3 kms and by foot from there up to Mahaulpotha Nigrodharama Temple.From the Mahaulpotha Nigrodharama temple there is a road that goes by the Porogala vantage point. Another way which Porogala can be accessed is the Bandarawela-Badulla railway track. It’s also 4 km from Bandarawela railway station. After passing the Kinigama railway station is the Porogala mountain and one can see the Porogala vantage point far ahead. When hiking along the railway track, after passing the Kinigama railway station, its about 1 km. When you hike for about a kilometer along the railway road a place namely, “Galearrawa” is found and from there lies a path to the right that leads towards the Porogala Mountain.
"WHEN YOU REACH THE TOP OF THE POROGALA MOUNTAIN’S VANTAGE POINT, A BLUISH MOUNTAIN RANGE IS SEEN FAR ABOVE TO THE LEFT AND IT IS NOTHING ELSE BUT THE WORLD FAMOUS HORTON PLAINS GREEN RESERVE"
The railway track seen from the top 52 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
Vegetable cultivations seen from Porogala vantage point
Porogala vantage point, Far away Namunukula mountain range
Hakgala mountain range
Namunukula mountain range
Sunset – Kirigalpoththa mountain towards Pidurutalagala
Porogala vantage point MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 53
When you reach the top of the Porogala mountain’s vantage point, a bluish mountain range is seen far above to the left and it is nothing else but the world famous Horton Plains green reserve. In a further careful search towards the end of the plain one can see the Kirigalpoththa mountain and Hakgala mountain range.
Vegetable cultivations seen from Porogala vantage point
A little right to the Hakgala mountain is Pidurutalagala the highest mountain in Sri Lanka. It’s 2524 meters (8292 feet) above the mean sea level. British named this mountain “Pedro” followed by the Sinhalese word ‘Piduru’ which means straw in English. The mountain hence, known as “Pidurutalagala” ( straw laiden mountain). To the right is the Namunukula mountain range, that has nine mountain peaks. A little left below the Porogala mountain is the famous no: 39 railway tunnel and Kinigama railway station. Kinigama railway station is 259 ½ km away from Colombo Fort railway station. A little further from the Kinigama railway station (about 1 ½ km) is the famous railway bridge “Galekka”. Below the Porogala mountain lies Heeloya railway station. If you are lucky enough at the destination point of Porogala vantage point, a good panoramic view of a train that will run through the No: 39 railway tunnel and traveling along the railway track up to Heeloya railway station can be caught on lense.
Lions mouth at Porogala
Below the Porogala mountain are blooming vegetable cultivations that exist around the year. If you turn right from the Nigrodharama temple to walk about 100 meters you will also get a good panoramic view of St. Catherine seat, at Nayabeddha mountain. No: 39 Railway tunnel and Kinigama Railway station HERMAN carved on a rock
Porogala Cliff 54 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
St. Catherine seat at Nayabedda mountain
Text and pics. by; Harsha Udayakantha Peiris
ituated few kilometers away from the city of Kandy and in closer proximity to the town of Digana is the ‘Ganthera Eco’ the extreme nature excursion venue. The 20 acres land filled with thick vegetation and several beautiful waterways and falls located along and by the side of Hulu Ganga river, is an ideal location for hiking and trekking engaged with a number of activities for the nature traveler. It includes bird watching, camping, training work-shops for company staff and scouts as well as for the day excursionists.
or cab but the best proposal is to park them at the nearby facility provided by the project and start trekking.
“The venue could be visited only after making proper arrangements for prior bookings. At present, we have opened the place from 6.30am to 5.00pm for the visitors who make such bookings. The place is ideal for local and foreign travelers and tourists who would like to have a firsthand experience in extreme eco excursions in a thick vegetation with serene, yet exploring avenues,” says Lakshman Mahinda, the CEO of Ganthera Eco Project
Before reaching the final destination at the end of the trek, is a small thatched cabana hut and well for water. At the destination point of the trek is an open arena where trekkers or visitors are received with a fresh king coconut to quench thirst. The open arena surrounded by trees such as Kumbuk, Milla, Ruk Aththana and located by the river is the best place to camp, host field workshops or teamwork training for the groups.
In the near future the venue will be readily available for night camping on totally natural environs. Tents, water, food, sanitary and other basic facilities will be provided for the visitors. As it becomes a great experience for some, if they prefer, they can also prepare their own meals at the camp site by the river as we will provide utensils such as knifes, pots, vessels or grills. Otherwise we provide authentic food, meals and bites on request. In future, a night excursion on this site will be a marvelous experience for nature lovers in and out of Sri Lanka. Our long term plans include developing the entire site with high profile safety observation decks as well as decks that run high between the trees facing the river bed.
Visitors in groups or individuals can reach the premises either by a high profile jeep
“ Amidst the other massive varieties of trees here, we find Goraka, Karanda,
At the same time we maintain high ecodiscipline within the entire site as it is our
“The trek would take around 15 to 20 minutes between Huluganga, the village and vegetation as during the trek, a number of spots ideal for nature photography could be caught. Morning hours are the best for bird watching here. If visitors prefer they can also use a jeep or cab along the drive way which also adds a firsthand experience of a real forest drive,” Mahinda says.
56 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
Badulu, Jack, Kudu Dawula, Lunu Midella and many more. We also have a small pepper and areca cultivation that would transform the area to a semi agro-eco land amidst natural vegetation in the future.
utmost responsibility to zero the harm and interruption we make from human activities to the nature. We always invite you to come, experience and enjoy this beautiful nature reserve,” Lakshman Mahinda says.
For excursions contact: +94 75 29 57 317
Lakshman Mahinda CEO of Ganthera Eco
01 - Well grown and age old trees at the destination point 02 - Rock art seen on the river bed during dry season within the site 03 - A trekking path also used as a drive - way 04 - Hulu Ganga river at the destination point of the site 05 - The thached cabana hut built closer to the destination point 06 - Distant sceneries sighted during the trek 07 - Beautiful waterways seen by the side of the trek 08 - Ambalama junction the landmark gateway to the site 09 - Thick vegetation and the river below 10,11 - Village paddy fields that borders the site 12, 13 - Thick vegetation MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 57
Anantaya opens its doors,unveiling infinite possibilities A
nantaya Resorts and Spa, the luxury resort owned by LAUGFS Leisure a subsidiary of LAUGFS Holdings, was ceremoniously opened by His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapakse on 15th February.
The opening ceremony was graced by many key government ministers and officers and key industry people. Planned as two parts the ceremony comprised of the official opening by the president and a mega evening celebration. The opening of Anantaya marks the entry of diversified conglomerate LAUGFS Holdings Limited into the big league of the leisure and tourism industry. The myriad offerings of the property, combined with the business excellence of LAUGFS, are certain to make the resort a preferred option among travellers on the lookout for luxury accommodation. Anantaya is a mere 20 minute drive away from the city of Chilaw on the A3 highway. It lies perfectly positioned to capture the beauty of its surroundings, cocooned by a golden sandy beach and a mangrove filled lagoon. Anantaya is the only property in the area, ensuring guests exclusive use of the secluded, immaculate beach. The spacious interior of Anantaya is an extension of its surroundings, with 87 spacious guest rooms replete with fine woodwork offering a breathtaking dual view of the ocean and lagoon. Architectural excellence allows cool sea breeze to ventilate the inner recesses of the resort creating an authentic seafront atmosphere. The unique view from each room also brings to life the concept of “ananthaya”, the Sinhalese term for “infinity”, giving guests a visual and physical experience of utter bliss. Vast, immaculate lawns punctuated by palm trees lead to the beach and are ideal for a relaxing stroll. The resort has two masterfully constructed swimming pools, the length and depth of which are in keeping with the resort’s central theme of an unsurpassed experience.
58 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
Anantaya prioritizes the food and beverage experience offering three different dining areas. The main restaurant, which is open on all sides, creates a soothing atmosphere with a mesmerizing ocean view while the fine dining restaurant offers the finest in food, service and atmosphere for the discerning traveller. Guests have the option of relaxing by the poolside which is complemented by a wellstocked bar and action stations for snacks and cocktails. Imaginative beverage menus with a wide range of fresh juices and an eclectic mix of cocktails are available at Anantaya. A notable aspect of the customer-centricity of the resort is that guests are encouraged to visit the resort’s wine cellar, which stocks organic wine, to handpick a wine of their preference. Anantaya also caters to the requirements of the corporate world and offers a one-of-a-kind setting for corporate events including a spacious conference hall that can accommodate 200 guests and a mini conference hall for 50 to 100 guests. Many leisure travellers will also find Anantaya to be the ideal location for a romantic, Sri Lankan style destination wedding. Anantaya has utilized the natural beauty of its environment to promote the physical and spiritual wellbeing of its guests. As a luxury resort, Anantaya goes beyond in terms of facilities and its service offering. The well trained staff is discreetly hands-on while recreational facilities include beach volleyball, deep sea fishing and catamaran rides in the lagoon. The luxurious spa offers an indulgent range of blissful treatments including aromatherapy, yoga and meditation, by qualified professionals. Anantaya is located in close proximity to several tourist attractions. Situated en route to the Cultural Triangle, Anantaya is a mere 4 km away from the Anavilundawa bird sanctuary, one of Sri Lanka’s Ramsar wetland sites. With the aim of providing guests a more wholesome experience, the resort also organises excursions to other attractions, notable among which are the largest National Park in Sri Lanka Wilpattu, the dolphin watcher’s paradise Kalpitiya, and the Muthurajawela wetlands, a biologically diverse coastal ecosystem.
MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 59
A clarion call to Hotel Clarion Text by Rathindra Kuruwita
otel Clarion, Kiribathgoda, which started as a humble budget hotel in the 1990s called Kelaniya Inn, has in time become one of Sri Lanka’s top transit hotels popular with both foreigners and locals. The hotel also has a large corporate clientele due to its location, its facilities and of course its food.
your family, the 180 and the Vibes are excellent for a relaxing drink with your friends. The 180, located at the top floor, has a 360 view of the city and the night sky offers an awesome view.
The hotel has 31 deluxe and superior rooms, two banquet halls that can accommodate upto 1,200 people, a modern gym, a swimming pool and other modern amentias.
“We also hold a lot of events as well as host corporate clients and events. Our travel desk is also very popular. We have day tours to several nearby tourist destinations and we have a fleet of luxury cars as well as a luxury bus to host
“We also have a shopping area and a designated travel desk. There are four restaurants that cater to any culinary desire. The 180 is the steak and grill restaurant, Tulips is our fine dining restaurant, Vibes is a Chinese and Indian restaurant while Pharaohs is an Egyptian themed night club,” said
larger crowds,” Muller said. “All our rooms have a mini bar, free wi-fi, 24-hour room service and cable TV.” A FOCUS ON QUALITY
Ralston Muller, the Sales and Marketing Manager of Clarion.
With an increasing number of hotels and customers who expect more, service is what differentiates the successes from the flops. This is a philosophy well understood by the hotel management. Managing Director, Dhanuja Pathirana, said that they focus greatly on staff training.
While the spacious Tulips is a great place to have dinner with
“We have 22 managers and 168 staff members. All our
60 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
managers have worked in five star hotels and our staff are from good training institutions. All of our chefs have worked overseas and many of them have won awards both locally and internationally for their culinary skills. Everyone who comes here commends our food; that’s why we book a lot of corporate functions and events,” he said.
EDUCATING THE FUTURE TALENT OF THE INDUSTRY With a large number of new hotels being built there is increasing demand for trained personnel for hotels. Although there are many hotel schools in the country only a few provide a good theoretical and practical education and most students
Pathirana added that their superior service has given them an edge over the competition and that they will maintain the same standards as they embark on an ambitious expansion programme.
“We are very concerned about quality as customers now know what they deserve. That’s why training of staff is very important because service is what gives you the edge against the competition. We hope to expand into boutique and destination hotels as Clarion is a transit hotel. With the upcoming Kaduwela–Kadawatha highway there will be more opportunities. We are building another wing with 31 rooms,” he said. The management is also in the process of acquiring a hotel in Katunayake while their boutique hotel in Pelawatte is almost complete.
who come out of lesser known institutions have little practical experience. Hotel Clarion began its own hotel school one year ago with the aim of assisting and educating those who want to enter the hotel industry in the Colombo suburbs and has become well known for finding the right mix of theory and practice. “We also started a hotel school about one year ago and I was very surprised at the enthusiasm shown. We have sixmonth and one-year long courses and we give our students practical training. We have a special kitchen for them and we make them participate in the activities of the hotel. So when they pass out they have practical experience; that’s something a lot of other schools doesn’t offer. A lot of new hotels are opening up and they lack trained staff. That’s a big challenge we have, a lot of demand is there for trained hotel staff. Our first batch was taken into the best hotels in the country,” Pathirana said. MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 61
Culinary Challenge 2014!
There is No More Sincere Love than the Love of Food” said George Bernard Shaw. While that might not be completely true, it is pretty close to many of those personalities from the culinary world. What is also true is that fear of failure isn’t and shouldn’t be a stumbling block to success. As renowned chefs will attest, some of today’s classics were developed through experimentation.
One of the best things about The Kingsbury is the opportunities the hotel provides its staff to identify their biggest strengths, portray their talents and exceed in their abilities with the support of professional guidance. This year, The Kingsbury provided both its Kitchen and Food & Beverage staff an opportunity to compete in a distinctive challenge, where each contestant portrayed their skills and talent to bring a spectacular display of outstanding food preparation and artistic presentation. Moreover, its aim is to encourage and facilitate the exchange of culinary expertise, knowledge and ideas with peers within the culinary community, and generate greater recognition and promote awareness of The Kingsbury’s culinary capabilities to the food and hospitality industry.
Held at The Winchester on the 23rd of February, The Kingsbury Culinary Challenge 2014 produced some outstanding results displayed by the hotel’s F&B and Kitchen staff. With many skilled staff competing in the various categories, the atmosphere at the competition was power-driven, highlighting the depth of talent and skill that The Kingsbury continues to produce. All contestants were competing for first, second, and third places but more importantly were able to show case their skills in front of national and international judges as well as a fascinated audience against the clock. The Kingsbury Culinary Challenge recognized outstanding food preparation and presentation skills, along with teamwork and the importance of food security. Judges for the event included renowned culinary masters Chef Koluu, Chef Chandrasena Sudusinghe, Chef Ranjith Morugama, Chef Gerard Mendis, Mr. Nishadha Pediyapperuma and Mr. Sisira Senaratne.
THE F&B DEPARTMENT; 1. Napkin folding competition 2. Coffee art competition 3. Live mocktail event (open) Lead by the Executive Chef of The Kingsbury; Chef Kithsiri de Silva, and F&B Manger; Mr. Iyantha Abeysinghe, together with the support of the Director/ General Manager of The Kingsbury; Mr. Sunil Dissanayake, Director Operations; Mr. Dayal Fernando, the management and staff, The Kingsbury Culinary Challenge 2014 was well represented in all categories. Congratulations go out to all contestants and the entire Kingsbury team for conducting a successful culinary challenge for the first time. This, we were told by the Director Operations and Executive Chef, will be a stepping stone for bigger plans they have for 2014.
There were several categories in the challenge under two main departments; food production and food & beverage services. Contestants from these two departments were divided into 3 categories; Apprentice (first level), Commi (second level) and Junior Executives (third level) and both departments consisted of three major events; THE KITCHEN DEPARTMENT; 1. The pastry (static) competition was judged on the preparation method, colors, presentation, creativity, etc. and not on taste. 2. The live cooking competition included six teams in groups of three, who had two hours to cook a three course meal. 3. The individual (static) static competition was judged on the preparation method, colors, presentation, creativity, etc. and not on taste. MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 63
Whether you’re a local, a business or leisure visitor, or even just a cultural voyeur, CNNGo delivers the best of each city by those who know it best. More information on the show, extended interviews and additional interactive content is available at www.travel.cnn. com/tv.
CNN’s portfolio of news and information services is available in five different languages across all major TV, internet and mobile platforms reaching more than 375 million households around the globe, including over 46 million across the Asia Pacific region.
EXPLORES THE SERENE
SRI LANKA T his month on CNN, CNNGO shakes it up in the island nation of Sri Lanka.
In the capital city of Colombo, Chef Dharshan Munidasa gives CNNGO a taste of the world renowned Sri Lankan seafood. It starts with a visit to his favorite place to get the freshest catch of the day, the Negombo fish market, and ends with a scrumptious meal at his restaurantMinistry of Crab. Next Dilshan Michaels and Ishara, renowned media personalities, introduce the newer side of the city. They show The Colombo Racecourse that was built in the 1800s but is now renovated into an international rugby pitchand then the Sky Lounge of the Kingsbury Hotel,to view the classic Sri Lankan sunset. The founder of YAMU and the friendly city guide, Indi Samarajiva, shows his favorite spots and the architectural gems in the older parts of the city. The tour included Colombo's old town hall, a tranquil café that also sells handmade goods and the famous Slave Island that offers plenty of cheap food and drinks.
From Colombo, CNNGo heads to the South to meet spa consultant Rosamond Freeman-Attwood for a tour around Galle. It begins with a tranquil morning tea at the Wijaya Beach side restaurant and then to Galle Fort, a UNESCO heritage site and its popular shopping arena. It gets more adventurous when Thana Sritharanand Dee de Silva takes CNNGo on a whale watching
Galle Fort tour to catch a breath taking glimpse of the blue whale.
Finally, CNNGo visits the Ceylon café, known to serve the best seafood in the country. The trip wraps up in mesmerizing tranquility of the tea country at the hills of the Ceylon Tea Trails with Dilmah tea founder Merrill J. Fernando and his son, Malik. CNNGo featuring Sri Lanka premiers on CNN International on Wednesday, March 12 at3.00 pm with a repeat telecast at 11.00 pm; Saturday, March 15at 10.00 am; Sunday, March 16at 06.00 pm and April 5 at 06.00 pm and April 6 at 10.00 am. Watch CNN international on Channel No. 23 on PEO TV, Channel No. 02 on Dialog Television and Channel No. 28 on ART Television. ABOUT THE PROGRAM CNNGo is a monthly 30-minute show featuring a unique take on global destinations, bringing views from genuine insiders on what gives dynamic cities in Asia and beyond their distinctive buzz.
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sounds battle cry for south and east coast surfers pix by Kawya Perera
ri Lanka was set to get hit with a heavy surge of surfing passion and excitement as Red Bull Ride My Wave, a unique competition which pit the best surfers from the country’s southern shores against their eastern counterparts, recently to determine the true kings of the coast. Apart from showcasing a slew of slick moves and spectacular blowouts, "Red Bull Ride My Wave" brought together the eclectic elements of Sri Lanka’s broad surf culture. Staying in sync with the country’s first surfing season, the opening leg of the contest ran from March 13-15 at three locations along the south coast. The battle royal will pick up again from August 5-7, with the surfers from the south journeying to three spots along the east coast to fight it out for ultimate bragging rights.
Each team consists of 10 surfers with ‘home’ competitors selecting their preferred opponent from the ‘away’ team in two 10-minute rounds. After each surfer is challenged by a different competitor on the opposing team, the side with the most points at the end of the two rounds will be declared the overall winner. The events will also encourage and promote precocious local talent in the sport by shining a spotlight on ambitious young surf stars from these two regions. To achieve this, the competition’s regulations compel each team to field at least two surfers who are under the age of 16. “I think the competition is good for everyone because it gives an opportunity for the younger boys as well. They will get a chance they have not had before. Also for the rest of us it is a good experience because we haven't had this kind of a team competition before,” Veteran surfer Asanka said. “All competitions help us develop and the young boys will especially benefit through the separate young guns training session during the event. When we were young we did not have these kinds of opportunities.” 66 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
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With its long lineup of gifted and gutsy sea-gliding artists, Red Bull Ride My Wave will undoubtedly provide a rich flow of creativity. And on a stage as big as this one, it is an absolute given that all of them will stretch themselves to the outer limits of their imagination and ability to piece together performances that that will clinch them big scores and bigger coast cred. Overall, Red Bull Ride My Wave has represented another significant stride for the country in the world of surfing, a sport whose reputation continues to grow exponentially in Sri Lanka. With both rounds of Red Bull Ride My Wave taking place during Sri Lanka’s peak surf seasons, the crowds at the events are sure to be as large and vocal as they are knowledgeable. For more information on Red Bull Ride My Wave visit www.redbull.com/ridemywave
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eople’s Bank commemorated the International Women’s Day in a meaningful manner by introducing a novel savings product - Vanitha Vasana Money Planner Investment Plan Account, thus recognizing and paying its tributes to the women for the invaluable contribution they make towards shaping the country’s socio-economic landscape. The launching ceremony of this exciting new account was held recently at Sethsiripaya, Battaramulla under the auspices of Mr. N. Vasantha Kumar, Chief Executive Officer /General Manager of People’s Bank. For the benefit of the large number of women customers gathered at this special ceremony, two specialist doctors, Dr. Ranil Jayawardane and Dr. Mrs. Dilini Samarakoon made useful presentations while well known beautician, Ms. Shiromi Priyadharshani conducted a special workshop on beauty culture. Ms. Renuka Wickramasinghe, Project Director, Urban Development Authority, members of the corporate and executive management of the People’s Bank, several well known artists, staff members and customers also graced the occasion.
Customers can enroll in this special savings account during the period 08th March to 08th April, which has been named as ‘Vanitha Vasana Month’ by choosing three savings options; Rs. 25,000/-, Rs. 50,000/- or Rs. 100,000/- investment plans. Accordingly, a customer can enroll in the primary scheme by making an initial deposit of just Rs. 2,320/- and pay Rs. 2,000/- each in the subsequent months during the year. What’s more, this special investment plan attracts a handsome 40% bonus interest. In addition to the above, holders of the Money Planner Investment Plan Account will also benefit from the proposed contributory pension plan, which will entitle them to a fixed monthly income when the said scheme is eventually implemented. Customers who successfully complete the payment plan will also receive an opportunity to apply for festival advances at concessionary rates of interest, thus affording them yet another invaluable benefit.
DAMIAN BALL AS APPOINTED REGIONAL GM FOR OZO HOTELS SRI LANKA
hailand-based ONYX Hospitality Group appoints accomplished hospitality professional Damian Ball as Regional General Manager to oversee soon-to-be launched OZO Hotels in Sri Lanka, which includes OZO Colombo, OZO Kandy and OZO Galle.
As a tourism and hospitality graduate from TAFE NSW, Ball has an extensive background in the hospitality industry spanning over 21 years in the Asia-Pacific region. Having started his career working in front office, he has since held various management positions at different international hotels in his home country of Australia and beyond in the Philippines, the Maldives as well as in Qatar. His respected career credentials not only include his professional qualifications, but his passion to drive and develop new projects. Ball has headed renowned hotel brands including Amari, where he implemented best management practices during the pre-opening phase of the group’s first hotel outside of Thailand; Amari Doha, Qatar. Commenting on his role, Ball said: “I am looking forward to establishing OZO in Sri Lanka as a hotel of choice for guests, as well as a preferred employer for our team members,” said Ball. “In all aspects, OZO is going to be different from the traditional hotel models - from its location to its concept based on simplicity, comfort, accessibility and innovative technology. Our focus at OZO is getting the important things right, providing guests with a good night’s sleep on a great bed, a nutritious breakfast, and great connectivity to the world as well as the locale. It’s all about providing modern comforts in a simple, uncomplicated and efficient manner.”
In his role, Ball will be responsible for the operations of three hotel properties and ensure that the developing hotels fully deliver on customer and business expectations. His expertise and range of operational experience will further support the OZO brand positioning. Under the ownership of Sino Lanka Hotels Holdings, the first OZO hotel in Sri Lanka will be launched in the first quarter of 2014, with OZO Colombo on Marine Drive comprising 158 guests rooms, an all-day dining restaurant, a trendy rooftop bar and lounge by the openair swimming pool, a fully equipped gymnasium as well as meeting rooms and a ballroom. Two further management agreements have been signed with Sino Lanka Hotels Holdings for the development of properties in key Sri Lankan cities; Kandy and Galle. Under Ball’s guidance and supervision, the Kandy project will soft open later this year, while the Galle property is scheduled to be launched in 2016. ONYX Hospitality Group operates four diverse yet complementary brands - Saffron, Amari, Shama and OZO - each catering to the distinctive requirements of today's business and leisure travelers. ONYX reaches beyond its Thai roots to offer innovative management solutions across the Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf and Asia-Pacific regions. 70 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
SRILANKAN AIRLINES TO JOIN ONEWORLD
FIRST CARRIER FROM INDIAN SUBCONTINENT TO ENTER ANY GLOBAL ALLIANCE
riLankan Airlines will become a full member of oneworld®, offering the alliance’s complete range ofservices and benefits with effect from Thursday 1 May 2014 – as the first carrier from the Indian subcontinent to become part of any global airline groups. The national airline of Sri Lanka received clearance to board oneworld, the world’s leading quality airline alliance, after successfully completing a thorough review
of its readiness conducted by Cathay Pacific Airways, which is sponsoring its entry into the alliance, with the oneworld central team. Its addition to oneworld will come a month after the alliance welcomes TAM and US Airways on board, on 31 March, concluding the group’s biggest yet expansion programme. Senior executives from oneworld’s established member airlines – which include some of the leading carriers from each of the world’s regions – will gather in Sri Lanka on the eve of SriLankan’s addition to the alliance, to welcome it to the fold. From the first flights on 1 May 2014, the 400,000 members of SriLankan’s FlySmiLes loyalty programme will, in effect, have their frequent flyer privileges extended to whenever they fly with anyoneworld member airline. These include leading carriers from each global region – fellow Asia-Pacific carriers Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Qantas; Europe’s airberlin, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Russia’s S7 Airlines; Qatar Airways and
Royal Jordanian, from the Middle East; American Airlines and, from 31 March, its merger partner US Airways, from North America; LAN and, also from 31 March, TAM from South America; and more than 30 affiliated airlines.
FlySmiLes Platinum cardholders will have Emerald status in the oneworld programme. FlySmiLes Gold will be equivalent to oneworld Sapphire and FlySmiLes Classic will be oneworld Ruby.
SriLankan already code-shares with oneworld members Malaysia Airlines and S7 Airlines with code-share agreements with a number of other oneworld partners at an advanced stage of discussion.
Its addition will bring two new destinations on to the oneworld network – Sri Lanka’s new Hambantota International and India’s Tiruchirapalli.
SriLankan’s oneworld implementation programme has represented one of the most extensive projects in the airline’s history, with working groups covering some 20 streams of activity. Projects are nearing completion to bring its various internal processes and procedures into line with the alliance’s requirements, and extensive employee training and communications programmes are now underway at SriLankan and the alliance’s existing members, to ensure they are ready to provide oneworld’s customer services and benefits across the expanded alliance from 1 May. From 1 May, FlySmiLes Platinum and Gold members will be able to use any of the more than 600 airport lounges worldwide offered by oneworld member airlines whenever they fly with one of the alliance’s carriers. SriLankan Business Class passengers will also be able to use oneworld partner airline lounges. Also from 1 May, the 150 million members of the other oneworld airlines’ frequent flyer programmes will be able to earn and redeem awards and tier status points and receive all other oneworld benefits on SriLankan.
SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe said: “With the world airline industry increasingly focused on alliances, joining oneworld will be a significant development for SriLankan Airlines. Joining the alliance will help put SriLankan more firmly on the global aviation map and vastly improve Sri Lanka’s connections with the rest of the world, with all that means for our country’s vital tourism industry.”
As part of oneworld, SriLankan will be able to offer all of its customers, seamless connections across a global network serving almost a thousand destinations in more than 150 countries, with first rate connections between the world’s leading business centres.
SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Kapila Chandrasena added: “As an airline highly focused on quality service, we are extremely proud to be lining up to become part of the highest quality alliance with the best airline partners offering a global network that best complements our own. We look forward to offering all the many benefits of oneworld to our customers very soon now.”
SriLankan is already participating in Global Explorer, the round-the-world fare offered by all oneworldmembers and various airlines that are not part of the alliance. From 1 May, SriLankan’s network will be covered by oneworld’s full and extensive range of alliance fares and
oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby said: “In SriLankan Airlines, oneworld is pleased to be adding another high-quality airline that will enhance oneworld’s network and product offerings in one of the world’s fastest growing regions for air travel demand.”
MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 71
THE SOFT LAUNCH OF THE MLH’S MOBILE APP
Mr Cassim addressing the media
laimed and built on love and romance and proven as the preferred choice by lovers, honeymooners and wedding couples, Mount Lavinia Hotel has got the right recipe of love for 2014. So on a day celebrated by lovers, MLH wanted to add much spice and has taken it very seriously when it comes to “being in touch” with the hotel hence the launch of their very own app on Valentine’s Day. “Yes, we have all what a memorable and romantic visit would vouch for but also, we wanted to add a mechanism that all our patrons could be not just a click away but also a TOUCH away with hot deals constantly being uploaded and certainly turning your love for the hotel to rewards, and what better way than to be engaged in the hotel app,” says Chinthaka Daluwatte, Group Director Sales and Marketing at MLHG. Chinthaka avers further, “This soft launch will enable us to get the nitty gritties sorted out and then gathering that data on a product's usage and acceptance in the marketplace, before we make it generally available for the grand launch.” From any mobile phone or tablet connected to the internet one can instantly tap into MLH, anytime, anywhere. Smartphones and tablets represent a huge opportunity for hotels, travel agents and leisure companies to increase online bookings and to follow a trail that other sectors have blazed. It is not surprising then what MLH intends to achieve. “Everyone lives on their mobile phones these days, so it’s important for MLH to be easily accessible, user friendly whenever and wherever people need access to a night out or a memorable place to be at,” says Ehantha Sirisena, Head of OMAK Technologies. The creators of the mobile app. “MLH mobile app puts hotel information just a touch away with much faster access than going through a browser. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this by downloading the app where super hot deals are continuously available.” MLH’s mobile app was developed by OMAK Technologies. OMAK is an innovative IT software solutions provider & software development company in Sri Lanka with experience in a wide range of business domains. OMAK specializes in the development of Mobile Apps, Mobile Integrated Services and Solutions, restaurant management systems, and cash flow/wealth management systems. Amongst its repertoire of clients is Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Sri Lankan Airlines, Fonterra, Bridgevine (a Fortune 500 Company), Maharaja Group of Companies, Capital Alliance, Nawaloka Group of Companies, and many other Foreign entities. The OMAK team is united by the enthusiasm for satisfying our clients. Our focus is on development, design, and strategic leading edge solutions. http://www.omaktechnology.com
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Heads of the group of telecom companies of SEA-ME-WE 5 project
THE NATIONAL ICT SERVICE PROVIDER SRI LANKA TELECOM PARTNERS 15 GLOBAL TELCOS TO CONNECT CONTINENTS VIA SEA-ME-WE 5 CABLE SYSTEM - A GIANT STEP TOWARDS A SMART SRI LANKA
aturday, 8th March, 2014 – Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) – the country’s ICT giant – proudly announces that the company has partnered 15 international telecommunication operators representing 17 countries to build the South East Asia - Middle East - Western Europe 5 (SEAME-WE 5) state-of-the-art undersea cable system: a multi-regional superhighway spanning approximately 20,000 kilometres from Asia Pacific to Europe via Sri Lanka. The said group of telecom companies have formed a consortium to jointly pursue the building of this undersea cable system with state-of-the-art technology. The collaboration was made official when the consortium members Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL), China Mobile International Limited (CMI), China Telecommunications Global Limited (CTG), China United Network Communications Group Company Limited (CU), Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC (du), Orange (formerly France Telecom FT), Myanmar Post and Telecom (MPT), PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin), Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel), Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT), Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), Telecom Italia Sparkle (TIS), TOT Public Company Limited, Yemen International Telecommunications Co. (TeleYemen) – signed the Construction and Maintenance Agreement (C&MA) and the Supply Contract for SEA-ME-WE 5 cable system in Kuala Lumpur on 07th March 2014. The SEA-ME-WE 5 submarine cable system, spanning approximately 20,000 km, will offer a POP to POP solution from Singapore, all the way to Europe via France and Italy. It connects 17 countries altogether, serving as the new platform for future business ICTs. The conceptualization of SEA-ME-WE 5 submarine cable system evolved around the capacity requirements of intercontinents to support the next generation internet applications which come from every part of the world. The traffic has
grown significantly in recent years, resulting in existing cable systems such as SEA-ME-WE 4 getting heavily loaded, thus creating the need for a new superhighway to cater for futuristic capacities, diversities and access capabilities. The Group Chief Executive Officer of Sri Lanka Telecom, Mr. Lalith De Silva commenting on the project partnership and investment said, “The gigantic capacity derived through this new cable system would facilitate the exponential growth in demand for data both locally and internationally and thereby would enable Sri Lanka to leverage on its strategic geographical location in developing the six regional hubs as envisioned by GoSL. This initiative will be one of the key enablers in achieving the expected socio-economic growth in the country and would accelerate the move towards an inclusive digital economy and a SMART Sri Lanka. ” The SEA-ME-WE 5 cable system which is scheduled to commence operations by early 2016 is designed to provide upgradeable transmission facilities by adopting the latest state-of-the-art 100 Gbps technology. When fully loaded, the SEA-ME-WE 5 cable system would be able to carry 24,000 Giga bits per second (24 Tera bits per second); the equivalent of transmitting around 4800 high-definition movies every second. Adding further Mr. De Silva mentioned, “As SLT’s major traffic routes are connected to key destinations in Europe, Asia Pacific and Indian regions, the upcoming SEA-ME-WE 5, being the fastest and highest capacity international cable system connecting these regions, would undoubtedly boost country’s international transactions many fold. SEA-ME-WE 5 has the capability to handle traffic from the cable starting point to its end - from Singapore to France - with lightning speeds of less than 90 milliseconds which in fact is the fastest speed achieved interconnecting Asia pacific to Europe. Another important feature of this cable system is the facilitation of POP to POP connectivity with no barriers. This will enable operators to connect with the required POP directly from the landing
point at no extra cost; thereby offering cost benefits to operators that opt to connect to Sri Lanka via the SEA-ME-WE 5 cable.” According to company's strategic objectives, investment in Global Connectivity is a key strategy devised to support the national objective of making Sri Lanka the Digital Hub of the region. SLT has partnered with SEA-ME-WE consortiums right from the inception and currently SLT connects globally via SEA-ME-WE 3, SEA-ME-WE 4 and two other private cables to India and Maldives. With SLT’s investment in the new SEA-ME-WE 5 cable, country’s global connectivity capacity will move to the next level - with Terabits of capacity; making Sri Lanka and SLT “future ready” to take on the envisaged data explosion. As Sri Lanka has been offered the “full landing” status by SEA-ME-WE 5 consortium, that will pave the way to establish a Global POP in Sri Lanka in the future. Furthermore, the SEA-ME-WE 5 cable station that is being established in Matara facilitates double landing; thereby enhancing the reliability of Sri Lanka’s connectivity to the system. With these global connectivity advancements, Sri Lanka will be the most preferred destination in the region for BPO or Data Center operations. Sri Lanka Telecom PLC Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) is the nation’s number one integrated ICT solutions provider. The Company is also the major provider of ICT networks and services for top enterprises representing all economic sectors and facilitates them with seamless and sophisticated connectivity to carry out local and global business operations. SLT group provides a full range of ICT facilities and services in the areas of voice, data, broadband, wholesale, enterprise, TV and mobile services. One of the key strategic objectives of the Group is to drive broadband-based consumer and enterprise services by expanding the broadband footprint via Next Generation Network and National Backbone Network and Next generation access of ADSL2+,VDSL2, Optical fibre, Carriergrade Wi-Fi and both fixed and mobile 4G LTE technologies.
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CENTARA TO OPEN SECOND RESORT IN SRI LANKA
AIA AND STANDARD CHARTERED SWAP JERSEYS ON A NEW EXCLUSIVE PARTNERSHIP
entara Hotels & Resorts of Thailand will soft open its second resort in Sri Lanka in spring of this year. The resort is owned by Softlogic Leisure and will be operated by Centara under a management contract. Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa Sri Lanka is set on the Bentota Peninsula, at the south of the island, with the Bentota River on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. The resort’s arrival lounge is situated at Aluthgama, on the inland side of the river, with guests travelling across the water by barge, a journey that takes five minutes. Centara’s first property in Sri Lanka, Centara Passikudah Resort & Spa, is located on the east coast of the island and opened early in 2013.
“Bentota is one of the most exciting destinations in Sri Lanka, and our two resorts give us a very significant profile in this strongly growing market,” says Chris Bailey, senior vice president for sales and marketing at Centara Hotels & Resorts. “The Indian Ocean is a highly important part of our development strategy, and Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa is an outstanding property that will have both a romantic appeal for couples and lots of leisure attractions for families.” Centara’s area general manager for Sri Lanka Alexandre Glauser says that the Bentota Peninsula offers a unique holiday experience. “There is the unspoiled charm of the river with its mangroves and wildlife, there is the classic golden tropical beach with calm seas and all kinds of water sports to enjoy, and of course there is all the colour and history of Sri Lanka itself,” he says. “For guests to Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa, the scene is set with the charming ride across the river on board our ferry, and no matter which room or suite they are staying, the view for guests will be stunning.” The resort has 165 rooms and suites, including fa 74 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • MARCH 2014
tandard Chartered Bank and AIA Insurance in Sri Lanka signed a new exclusive long term bancassurance partnership, bringing the bank's customers a wider range of needs-based insurance solutions that are the hallmark of AIA's product offerings across Asia. The two financial services giants are sponsors of leading English Premier League football clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. So it was fitting that they sealed their new partnership agreement by swapping jerseys, a long held tradition in football after important and prestigious matches. SCB is one of the world’s most international banks with a presence in 70 markets across the globe. As Asia’s leading life insurer, AIA serves holders of over 27 million life policies across the Asia Pacific region and is the 4th largest listed insurer worldwide by market capitalisation (as at 20th September 2013). Shah Rouf, Chief Executive Officer of AIA Sri Lanka commented, “We have had a close relationship with Standard Chartered Bank for some time and this move to a sole insurance provider agreement is a significant strengthening of that partnership, adding greater value to the lives of the bank's customers through our protection focused life insurance and long term savings solutions". He added "It also consolidates AIA's position as the pioneering and leading practitioner of bancassurance in Sri Lanka". “As a leading retail bank, our customers naturally rely on us to deliver world class products and services. By partnering with AIA, we will be able to offer our customers comprehensive life insurance solutions to meet their varying needs now and in the future. . We are excited by the opportunities that this new partnership agreement offers and look forward to working even more closely with AIA” said Sanjay Wijemanne Head of Consumer Banking – Standard Chartered Bank. ABOUT AIA AIA Group was first established over 90 years ago and is the 4th largest listed insurer worldwide by market capitalization (as at 20th September 2013) and holds market leading positions around the pan-Asian region. It serves holders of over 27 million life policies and its total assets as at 20th September 2013 was US$ 140 billion. Photo Caption: Shah Rouf (CEO - AIA Insurance) and Sanjay Wijemanne (Head of Consumer Banking - SCB) exchange Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspurs jerseys. Also in the picture from left - right are Piyal Hewapathirana(Head of Sales Bancassurance for SCB at AIA), Ms. Tamara Sivagurunathan (AGM Bancassurance - AIA), Amal Perera – (Director Partnerships - AIA), Surendra Menon (Regional Head of BancassuranceGroup Partnership Distribution), Chamikara Wijesinghe (Head of Liability and Wealth Products/Head of Personal Banking – SCB) and Rishan Jumat (Assistant Manager Wealth Products - SCB).
ETISALAT LANKA APPOINTS NEW ACTING CEO
ail Salman, with his extensive experience and exposure at Etisalat Lanka and the Etisalat Group Asia cluster, was appointed as Acting Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Lanka; following the retirement of DumindraRatnayaka from the post, recently. Salman,is a UK graduate, having completed all his education in the United Kingdom. Following which, he worked in the UK for a well renowned organisation for a period of 6 years before moving to the UAE to pursue a career initially in the Airline industry, thereafter in the Telecommunications Industry, for the past 17 years. With his in-depth experience in the Telecommunications industry to his credit, Salman has been working for the Etisalat Umbrella, since 1997. He has been a board member of Etisalat Lanka since 2012 and has served as Chairman of its Audit Committee. Given his involvement, experience and understanding ofthe telecommunication industry of Sri Lankaand also of the Asia region, the appointment can be considered a prudent bid by the Group to further their vision for the Sri Lankan market.That is, to position Etisalat as the premier telecommunications service provider in the country. The Etisalat Group recognizes Sri Lanka as a market with ample potential for growth especially in terms of smart devices, data and social packages. Together with a proactive and energetic team that is already committed to working towards making Etisalat Lanka a premier telecommunications service provider in the country, Salman will take on the role of partner and advisor to the management of the business giving them direction and adding strength to their strategies. Salman initially served at one of Etisalat’sOpCos (Operating Companies) and later at Etisalat UAE. He was last appointed as Senior Vice President - Finance and Business Optimization of Asia Cluster, where he overlooked the operations of the Etisalat Group’s Asia region offices including Sri Lanka. He has made a significant contribution to Etisalat Lanka andEtisalat’s Asiacluster in terms of enhancing efficiencies and cost optimization. Withhisinternational exposure in the industry, and his expertise in the telecommunication technology and commercial setup, the company believesSalman will bring alignment and better vision to local operations.
ODEL TO OPEN ITS LARGEST ‘LUV SL’ STORE AT GALLE FORT THE FIFTH NEW FORMAT STORE OF ITS KIND PROMOTING SRI LANKAN SOUVENIRS
del’s love for things Sri Lankan will pervade the historic Dutch Fort in Galle with the opening of the company’s fifth Luv SL store in Sri Lanka within its precincts on the 14th of Feb2014. The new store premise, No 50, Pedlar Street – a unique melange of Dutch and Portuguese architecture- that has been an iconic landmark of the historic Galle Fort for over 3 centuries past, blends right in with Luv SL and what the brand has to offer; a unique Sri Lankan inspired product coupled with the shabby-chic, rustic atmosphere that constitutes a truly Sri Lankan shopping experience to remember. The new Luv SL store will be the largest of its name to date, and the second Luv SL store to be opened by Odel in a coastal location. It will beOdel’s first footprint in the south of Sri Lanka. “Taking Luv SL to the iconic Galle Fort has long been a dream of me and the team, so naturally we are very excited about the project. The cultural fusion it has to offer is much like that of the brand itself and that is why we feel this is the perfect location” Odel founder and CEO Otara Gunewardene said. “The response to the Luv SL concept from customers- both local and international- has been extremely encouraging, which is why we have so much faith in the brand.” A brand dedicated to unique, Sri Lankan inspired, home-grown products in the souvenirs, fashion, accessories and household items categories, Luv SL also retails casual clothing, resort wear, stationery, mugs, picture frames, toys, cosmetics, toiletries, curios and special exotic food items under the brand. The stores also feature Odel’s popular brands such as Embark, Delight, Backstagealong with ladies wear, men’s wear and kids wear brands and offer expert and creative wrapping and packing services to shoppers. Odel’s Luv SL concept was launched in 2011 and made its debut at the former Dutch Hospital complex at Echelon Square. Since then Odel has opened these new concept stores at the Queen’s Hotel in Kandy, the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and at Negombo. The standalone Luv SL stores have a unique look and feel, combining concrete and wood for a modern yet earthy appearance in shades of brown, black and silver. The products are inspired by a love for Sri Lanka and things stylishly Sri Lankan. MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 75
SLT RAINBOW PAGES UNVEILS WEDDING DIRECTORY MOBILE APPLICATION An App to make wedding planning easy and simple
edding day is without doubt the most memorable day in one’s life and any one waiting to get married dreams to be a bride or a groom one day in his or her life. To make this dream a reality, they strive to plan it at least one year before the wedding. This is because, unless planned properly, wedding will be an unpleasant experience. However, to plan a wedding very well according to the available budget, we need to find suppliers in the wedding field, like suppliers of wedding attire, flowers, photographers, etc. Finding these suppliers of various categories is not an easy task. You may never have thought of finding them all at a one-stop place and planning your dream wedding at your fingertips. But now it has become a reality. It has been made a reality by the directory publisher to the nation – SLT RAINBOW PAGES. The Android mobile application of the SLT RAINBOW PAGES Wedding Directory was officially launched at a ceremony held recently at the Hotel Ramada Colombo. We know that today mobile phone has become a multitasking smart device closer to people than any other device of this kind. People tend to use smartphones as it is a multitasking handy device through which we can get in to the world of information, entertainment, business, finance, banking, shopping etc., at our fingertips with just a touch. Smart phones, tabs (tablet computers), PDAs etc., are rapidly becoming popular especially among the young generation with the fast growing information and communication technology in the world. It is amidst these circumstances that the Wedding Directory Mobile App for Androids was launched. One of the main features of this Wedding Directory App is that you can find over 1500 suppliers of the wedding field with just a touch. Relevant suppliers can easily be found by searching category-wise or subcategory-wise or location-wise and supplier locations are directed by digital maps for your convenience. Also images of supplier masterpieces can be viewed. Many more features are to be added to this elegant mobile app in future. The Rainbow Pages Wedding Directory Mobile App is the easiest and the simplest way to plan your dream wedding perfectly and elegantly. In order to download this free simple app, search for Rainbow Pages Wedding Directory on the Google Play Apps Store. If you are a would-be bride or groom, this is the App you should download to your smart phone and experience the simplicity of wedding planning at your fingertips. Also you can log in to our web portal www.weddingdirectory.lk – Sri Lanka’s most-visited wedding website - or purchase the print wedding directory with the free CD which contains thousands of wedding photographs, from leading supermarkets and bookshops island-wide.
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MIHIN HOLIDAYS, MAKES YOUR DREAM HOLIDAY A REALITY
uesday 18th of February, Colombo: Imagine being secluded away, relaxing by the soft sandy, palm laced beaches or walking down bustling streets and finding great bargains while tasting the most tempting cuisines! If you are thinking of just that, just log on to www.mihinholidays.com to create your perfect holiday getaway with Mihin Holidays. Mihin Holidays offer tailor made introductory, fixed packages to Seychelles and Jakarta at an attractive price. Apart from these fixed packages, customers have the option of booking air ticket and hotel to other exciting destinations such as Dubai, Sharjah, Bahrain, Madurai and Dhaka, which are all routes operated by Mihin Lanka. While making the booking, customers are able to check the full details of the hotel, compare hotel rates with other hotels located in the same area and check out the information on the city and its tourist attractions.
Commenting on the new launch, Kapila Chandrasena – Chief Executive Officer, Mihin Lanka had this to say: “We at Mihin Lanka are always on the lookout for ways to make travel more convenient, relaxing and hassle free, while offering our customers the best deals on the market. We hope the launch of Mihin Holidays makes taking that dream holiday a reality for you.” The introduction of Mihin Holidays ensures that Mihin Lanka provides its customers the best rates for air tickets with a further discount. That’s not all; there is a wide range of three to five star hotels on offer with special discounted rates exclusively for Mihin Holidays. So, passengers who book online receive a total of 25% discount on the entire holiday package over any other channel. This sure is a great start to anyone’s holiday getaway. Customers can make a booking online at www.mihinholidays.com to any of their preferred holiday destinations and pay by using any Master or Visa Credit Cards.
OMAN AIR CELEBRATES CONTRIBUTION OF SERVICE DELIVERY UNIT TO SUCCESS IN 2013 Oman Air has celebrated the contribution made by staff in its Services Delivery Unit towards the airline’s success during 2013. The celebration took place at an event held at Oman Air’s headquarters in Muscat and was attended by Services Delivery Unit staff, Senior Managers and the airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Pearce. The Unit, which includes Airport Operationsin both in Omanand overseas as well as Ground Operations, Catering, Work shop, Ramp services and Cargo, is responsible for much of the ‘behind the scenes’ work which ensures that flights depart on time and that passengers enjoy a seamless experience. Wayne Pearce commented: “On behalf of the Board of Directors of Oman Air and my Senior Management team, I would like to express our thanks for the outstanding efforts and commitment of staff within the company’s Services Delivery Unit throughout 2013. Over the course of the year, Oman Air increased frequencies on many routes, carried more passengers to more destinations than ever before and recorded a superb industry high on-time performance of just under 90% for 2013 with an exceptional May, when we achieved 100% on-time performance throughout our network. None of this could have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of our Services Delivery Unit and it has been a pleasure to honour them at today’s event.” MARCH 2014 • SRI LANKA THE TREASURE ISLAND • 77
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