James Ruggia, in The Daily News, 24 September 2014, where the title is “What’s Next for Sri Lanka’s Growing Tourism?”
Sri Lanka finally seems to have moved the conversation away from the past to the more appealing power of its tourism attractions including tea plantations, blue whale watching, highlands, wildlife viewing, beaches, lakes, rivers and jungles. In August the country had already welcomed its millionth visitor, a development that has tourism officials optimistic that they can reach their 2014 goal of 1.5 million visitors. Last year the country attracted about 1.2 million visitors and is targeting 2.5 million in 2015.
In the immediate aftermath of the war, it was difficult to attract tourists or investment. International hotel companies were among the first tourism concerns to enter the country with Marriott, Hyatt, Mövenpick and Shangri-La leading the charge and several tour operators are now also wading in the waters.
For these operators, Sri Lanka offers their well-travelled customers a fresh frontier. “Our clients demand new and exotic destinations,” said A&A S.E. Asia’s Executive Director Mario P. Scozia of the tour packages he recently launched.
It’s a great destination. The national parks feature wild elephants, water buffalo, monkeys, barking deer, wild boar, sloth bear and leopards. On the cultural side, Sri Lanka’s connection to Hindu literature, especially the Ramayana, is evident in monuments around the country including Dambulla and the temples of Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.
Activities are at the core of Artisans of Leisure’s private Sri Lanka programs including the 10-day Essence of Sri Lanka $8,795; nine-day Luxuries of Sri Lanka $8,955; seven-day Introduction to Sri Lanka $5,800; six-day Exclusive Sri Lanka $6,315; 10-day Cultural Highlights of Sri Lanka $8,885; 15-day Journey Through Sri Lanka $12,315; and the 12-day Southern India and Sri Lanka (12 Days) $10,680.
Historic boutique hotels: The packages feature tea factory tours, curry cooking classes, elephant riding, spice plantation tours, performances of Sri Lankan dance and fire walking, wild life safaris, Ayurvedic spa treatments and plenty of sightseeing at the monuments and ruins of ancient Buddhist cities.
A&A S.E. Asia Tours is increasing their South Asia programs with 12-day packages to Sri Lanka and the Seychelles. A&A has always had the knack for customizing extra luxuries into the program, but it’s hard to top their willingness to add stopovers en-route of either two or three nights to any Southeast Asia, Asia, South Pacific or Italian destination. A&A designs their packages as either half- or full-board with all ground services in luxury vehicles, all guided tours with uniformed, educated English speaking guides.
Earlier this year Alexander + Roberts launched a new 11-day journey to Sri Lanka using boutique hotels and small groups of six to 16 guests that allow for interaction with the local people. They’re also customizing private journeys. During the trip travellers stay in such historic boutique hotels as Tea Trails, an exclusive resort set in bungalows originally built for British tea estate managers, and Amangalla, a luxury landmark built by the Portuguese in 1658 within the ancient ramparts of Galle Fort.
As usual with Alexander + Roberts, there’s a respect for the traveller’s intelligence that’s reflected in high-quality guides. For instance, Juliet Coombe, author of Around the Fort in 80 Days, will guide travellers through the hidden backstreets of Galle Fort; Mark Forbes, a Colombo native leads a walking tour of the city’s best-kept secrets, special dining experiences such as a lunch at the private hillside estate of textile artist Ena de Silva.
Diversity and richness of wonderful landscapes: On Nov. 1, Khiri Travel, one of Asia’s most successful and responsible inbound operators will open an office in Sri Lanka, a joint venture between Khiri Travel and Sri Lanka-based DMC Luxe Asia. The venture will be a part of the Galle Face Hotel Management Group, which owns and operates the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo (1865), Ceylon Hotels Corporation, Kandy Hotels, Queens Hotel and Suisse Hotel. It has a diverse collection of over 20 properties throughout the island.
“Luxe Asia shares the same values as Khiri Travel,” said Willem Niemeijer, CEO of Khiri Travel Group. “A fantastic new selection of signature Sri Lanka experiences will feature the diversity and richness of Sri Lanka’s wonderful landscapes, ancient temples, colonial heritage buildings, nature safaris, and culinary discoveries. Sri Lanka has amazing variety for such a relatively small country.”
Those values can also be found in Jetwing, a Sri Lankan hotel group that is pointing towards the future. Jetwing opened the country’s largest privately owned solar photo-voltaic (PV) system, at Jetwing Yala. As the country’s third largest PV installation, it covers an area of 1.25 acres – a first in the industry, featuring a record 1122 panels.
The company’s first solar installation took place at Jetwing Blue in 2010, with a 20 kW off-grid roof mounted system that provided energy for 100 per cent of guest room lighting. Jetwing Sea followed suit in 2011, and in 2012 Jetwing Lagoon became the first property to expand the solar PV system to more than just illumination – with a 20 kW off-grid system for guest room lighting, and a 10 kW grid-tied system.
Courtesy: TRAVEL PULSE