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‘Hello Again’ virtual tourism awareness session held

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Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the US Ravinatha Aryasinha has observed that the credibility Sri Lanka Tourism earned in caring for the tourists who made lengthy extensions of their stay in the country at the time COVID broke out, and Sri Lankan Airlines being one of the few carriers that continued to fly when most commercial airline fleets were grounded, should give confidence to international travelers to visit the island once again, now that travel for tourists has resumed.

Ambassador Aryasinha noted that prior to COVID curtailed global travel, tourist arrivals from the US had grown by 260% from 2010 to 2019, an annual average growth well over 20%, making the US one of the fastest-growing tourist arrival countries, which mainly drew niche tourists visiting and also staying longer.

The ambassador made these comments on January 27, when he hosted a virtual ‘Hello Again ; Sri Lanka tourism awareness session’ to announce the re-opening of Sri Lanka for international tourists from the January 21, and share details of the strategy adopted to ensures tourists enjoyed their stay, while being protected from COVID. The event was organized by the Sri Lanka embassy in Washington D.C., with assistance from the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Sri Lankan Airlines GSA office in the U.S., and attracted more than 60 tour & travel partners and media personal, including Expedia and Priceline.  

Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism Kimarli Fernando said, Sri Lanka is “safe and exciting even during the pandemic”. She noted that “Sri Lanka does not require a minimum number of days to stay in Sri Lanka within the ‘Bio Bubbles’ introduced by the SLTPB. While staying in a secure level 1 hotel recognized by Sri Lanka Tourism, or multiple hotels if needed within the ‘Bio Bubble’, they could use all the facilities of the hotels including SPA, the pool and the restaurants and visit tourist sites within the bubble. These level 1 hotels which have been certified by KPMG, as well as Ernst & Young, provide accommodation exclusively for international tourists. After an initial 14 days of the stay within the ‘Bio Bubble’, travelers will be able to exit from it at any time subject to having a negative PCR test, and be able to interact with the local community. The tourists are required to undergo several PCR tests during their stay, and medical insurance with a premium of 12 dollars covered all the expenses related to transportation and ICU facility in the event of any difficulty.”

Joining the discussion, Chairman, Airport, and Aviation Major General (Rtd) G.A Chandrasiri welcomed passengers to the two Sri Lankan airports – Colombo and Mattala, and emphasized that maximum precautionary measures have been taken to ensure protection of the passengers’ safety.

CEO of the Sri Lankan Airlines Vipula Gunatileka said, although Sri Lankan does not fly to North America, through its strong partnership with ‘One World’, they have solid relationships with British Airways from Toronto, as well as with Qatar Airways and Japan Airlines, whereby Sri Lankan Airlines is able to help tourists from different gateways it has connections with.

Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority Upul Dharmadasa said, the Civil Aviation Authority is working closely with the airlines around the world to facilitate the travel of tourists to Sri Lanka, and reviewing processes constantly to stay abreast of the latest health guidelines.

Sri Lankan Airlines GSA for US, Canada and the Caribbean Dilan Ariyawansa, elaborated on the connections from the various North American cities to Sri Lanka, and the prospects seen of increasing US travelers to Sri Lanka through the pandemic period and beyond.

Director Marketing of Sri Lanka Tourism, Dushan Wickramasuriya, highlighted the potential of the U.S market to attract tourists to different sectors in Sri Lanka – soft adventure, cruise travel, wellness tourism, wildlife, and to promote luxury villas. He said travel partners can also sell tailor-made itineraries encouraging tourists to travel to Sri Lanka to spend few days, when planning to visit countries like Thailand, Maldives, India and others in East Asia and South Asia.  

The event coordinated by Second Secretary Niranga Palipana, concluded with an interactive session, where US travel partners sought clarifications and made suggestions on expanding the programme.



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CBSL and IFC launch National Financial Inclusion Strategy

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Sri Lanka’s first National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) aunched recently, aims to make financial services more accessible, efficient, and affordable for all households and businesses in the country.

The NFIS is a joint effort led by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka—with technical and financial assistance from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group—under the IFC-DFAT Women in Work program. The development of this strategy was a multi-stakeholder effort supported by the government of Sri Lanka.

“The National Financial Inclusion Strategy symbolizes our country’s commitment towards a better and inclusive Sri Lanka that will benefit all individuals and enterprises. I believe this strategy will complement the Government’s efforts to minimize the provincial income disparities, urban-rural inequalities, and to promote inclusive growth,” said Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

“More importantly, this strategy prioritizes future generations, having identified financial literacy as a key pillar. The proposal to strengthen the national curriculum in this area is a positive step. Investing in the education of our younger generation is the most significant investment we can make as a nation, as this will be a particularly helpful approach to the systematic correction of the financial habits of Sri Lankans,” the Prime Minister said.

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HNB – Havelock City partnership offers exclusive Ezy Pay Home Loans facility

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HNB PLC has partnered with Havelock City mixed-use development project to offer prospective homeowners of state-ofthe-art luxury apartments in Stratford and Melford Towers (Phase 3 – COC certified) and Peterson and Edmonton Towers (Phase 4) with the exclusive Ezy Pay Home Loans facility.

The partnership is set to offer customers the unprecedented opportunity to make a payment of only 20% and immediately occupy the limited units available in Phase 3 of the project or invest in apartments available in Phase 4, scheduled to be completed by May 2021. Further, Havelock City will take on the customer’s interest payment for one year.

“We have witnessed an increase in the demand for apartments and are aware that there is a limited stock of units available in the heart of Colombo. Therefore, we hope that this partnership with Havelock City will offer our customers looking to invest in a home of their own the facility to either move into an apartment immediately or invest in a home of their dreams,” HNB Head of Personal Financial Services, Kanchana Karunagama said.

Prospective homeowners can make use the bank’s flexible repayment options, such as the Step-up facility, which offers a repayment option in line with the customers evolving income. Customers can also obtain a maximum repayment period of 25 years for the loan facility for an attractive interest rate starting from just 7%.

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DPL lends a hand to children in Monaragala Rubber Farming Communities

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As part of its ongoing efforts to empower and uplift the livelihood of its farmer co-operative societies, Dipped Products PLC (DPL) distributed school bags to the children of 1,500 smallholder rubber farmers for the 10th consecutive year, under its flagship Firstlight CSR project.

This year’s distribution recorded the largest donation of school bags, which was nearly a two-fold increase from the previous year, bringing the total value of the distribution up to nearly Rs. 1 million.

Taking place at the Pinwatta Bodimalu Viharaya in Medagama, Monaragala, this latest distribution marks the Company’s continued efforts to support the smallholder rubber farming communities, by ensuring that their essential needs are looked after.

“Especially in this time of economic uncertainty, with the nation facing significant challenges and hardships, it is truly touching to see the positive impact which we continue to have on the underprivileged smallholder rubber farming communities. We believe that programmes like Firstlight hold the key to enhancing the livelihoods of our 1500-strong rubber farmers, providing them with an improved quality of life, whilst paving the way to open up new opportunities and a brighter future. This is why, with the enthusiastic response we have received over the years, we have now also expanded this school bag distribution to include the District of Kegalle,” Dipped Products Deputy Managing Director, Pushpika Janadheera said.

 

 

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