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Hiran Cooray calls for practical operating model for ‘Wonders of Lanka’ durng the tourism lull



One of the country’s top leisure industry personalities, Mr. Hiran Cooray, head of the Jetwing Group, has appealed to all concerned to utilize the time available before tourism returns to normalcy to pay attention to improving country’s hundreds of of natural and man-made wonders that have over the years not received the love and care they deserve.

‘The relevant authorities must utilize this time to prepare a practical model of of operating these sites once tourist arrivals return to expected numbers,” he has said in the annual report of Jetwing Lighthouse PLC, owners of the Geoffrey Bawa-built Lighthouse Hotel on a spectacular site near Galle.

“If these are not looked into, there will continue to be negative publicity and permanent damage to natural assets like Yala National Park and man-made cultural sites like Sigiriya,” he has said.

“As tourism will likely take a while to return to normalcy, there is an opportunity for us to strategically plan on how we will grow responsibly and sustainably,” Cooray said.

He has made the point that tourism has always had its ups and downs from the time his father, the late Herbert Cooray, entered the industry in 1973. But since the war ended in 2009, the industry had enjoyed continuous growth which had led to their own expansion including investments made by Lighthouse in the recent past.

Reviewing the year ended Mar. 31, 2009, Cooray said that having survived a difficult year, “we are now faced with an even more challenging year, the like of which had not been seen during Jetwing’s history.

They had begun the year with a lot of optimism and hoped to obtain better results following the upgrades made to the property during the year. But these were belied by the Easter bomb which exploded three weeks into the financial year. As they gradually got on to their feet after some months of hardship, and was heading for a quick recovery when the whole world was shaken by the Covid pandemic.

The company ended the year under review with a loss of Rs. 96.3 million, down from the previous year’s profit of Rs. 102.6 million. They are holding back on planned renovations on which they had invested about Rs. 200 million last year.

A new swimming pool overlooking the Indian Ocean for which all approval had been received was part of the plan that was expected to help position Lighthouse as the premier hotel on the South coast.

The directors’ report indicated changes in directors’ shareholdings with Mrs. AMJ Cooray gifting her holding of over 1.2 million shares equally to her son, Hiran Cooray and daughter, Shiromal Cooray who run Jetwing.

Lighthouse has a stated capital of Rs. 460 million and reserves of Rs. 2.4 billion together with retained earnings of Rs. 332.1 million in its books. Total assets ran at Rs. 3.84 billion and total liabilities at Rs. 644.2 million.

Jetwing Hotel Management Services with 41.24% of Lighthouse is the major shareholder, followed by Mercantile Investments (16.82%), EPF (11.05%) and the Bank of Ceylon (9.73%). Ms. Shiromal Cooray and Mr. Hiran Cooray are the biggest individual shareholders.

The directors of the company are: Messrs. Hiran Cooray (Chairman) RAE Samarasinghe (MD), Ms. Shiromal Cooray, N. Wadugodapitiya, CSR Anotony, Ranil de Silva, EPA Cooray, Ms. AM Ondaatjie, Dr. C. Pathiraja, T. Nadesan and ATP Edirisinghe.

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Cinnamon Air resumes daily scheduled flights in Paradise



Cinnamon Air, Sri Lanka’s premier domestic airline, has resumed daily scheduled flights after a temporary suspension during the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline is the only domestic carrier in Sri Lanka offering daily scheduled flights and the only such airline to operate flights from the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) with a dedicated passenger terminal and aircraft maintenance facility.

As the airline resumes its daily scheduled flight operation from 15th December 2022, the entire Cessna 208 fleet of Cinnamon Air will operate to destinations such as Sigiriya, Castlereagh, Trincomalee, Batticaloa (serving Pasikudah), Koggala and Weerawila from (BIA) and Water’s Edge Colombo. The daily scheduled flights were temporarily halted during the pandemic due to the sharp decline in tourist arrivals (the key source of demand for the airline) to the country.

However, while strictly adhering to health and safety protocols, the charter flight service continued without disruption. During this period of reduced demand, Cinnamon Air geared itself to better serve its customers through streamlining operations by relocating to a new state-of-the-art aircraft maintenance facility (hangar) at BIA, which is in close proximity to its passenger terminal. As visitor arrivals improve, the airline is expected to be the preferred choice for safe and convenient mode of travel for tourists to swiftly reach popular destinations within the island.

Regarding the resumption of the scheduled flight operation, Sean Dwight, the Chief Executive Officer of Cinnamon Air, commented, “We have been a premier mode of transportation to many individuals visiting Sri Lanka, enabling them to reach popular destinations throughout Sri Lanka in a hassle-free manner at a fraction of the travel time.

To ensure smooth connectivity with our flights, without long transit times, we have synchronized our flight times with the arrival and departure times of Sri Lankan Airlines and other major international airlines. He continued, “as the tourism industry in Sri Lanka is regaining its volumes, we are poised to add value to foreign travelers’ experience in Sri Lanka through our scheduled flights which, in turn, will enhance the image of the country as an upmarket tourist destination. In fact, our passengers consider us as an attraction in addition to being a mode of travel due to the unique experience of taking off and landing on water as well as the breathtaking aerial views of Sri Lanka. Further, in order to ensure that our travelers have a safe and enjoyable travel experience, we have health and safety protocols in place, on board as well as prior to boarding the flight”.

Cinnamon Air (, owned and operated by Saffron Aviation (Pvt) Limited, is a joint venture between Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate, John Keells Holdings PLC, MMBL Leisure Holdings (a part of the Mercantile Merchant Bank Group) and Phoenix Ventures (parent of the Brandix Group). In addition to scheduled flights, Cinnamon Air also offers charter services to and between all Airports and Water Aerodromes in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, all Cinnamon Air scheduled flights operate in codeshare with Sri Lankan Airlines, consequent to which they are also available for sale throughout the Sri Lankan Airlines network and all Travel Agents around the world via Global Distribution Systems, under a “UL” designated flight number.

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Earnings from merchandise exports decline for first time since March



External Sector Performance – October 2022

Earnings from merchandise exports declined in October 2022, on a year-on-year basis, for the first time since March 2022, mainly due to lower earnings from garments exports. The decline in import expenditure continued in October 2022, (y-o-y), for the eighth consecutive month, despite recording an increase, compared to September 2022.

The merchandise trade deficit recorded a notable contraction in October 2022, compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, the workers’ remittances steadied and earnings from tourism improved in October 2022, whereby earnings from tourism crossed over USD 1 bn during January-October 2022, while workers’ remittances reached about USD 3 bn during January-October 2022. Foreign investment in the government securities market and the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) recorded a marginal net inflow during October 2022. The Central Bank continued to provide forex requirement to finance essential imports, exhausting the liquid level of gross official reserves. Meanwhile, the weighted average spot exchange rate in the interbank market remained around Rs. 363 per US dollar during the month .

Merchandise Trade Balance and Terms of Trade

Trade Balance: The deficit in the merchandise trade account narrowed to US dollars 285 million in October 2022, compared to the deficit of US dollars 502 million recorded in October 2021, despite it widened compared to September 2022. The cumulative deficit in the trade account during January-October 2022 recorded at US dollars 4,389 million, declined from US dollars 6,501 million recorded over the same period in 2021. The major contributory factors for the decline in the cumulative trade deficit are shown in Figure 1.

Terms of Trade: Terms of trade, i.e., the ratio of the price of exports to the price of imports, deteriorated by 4.0 per cent in October 2022, compared to October 2021, as the increase in import prices surpassed the increase in export prices.

Performance of Merchandise Exports1

Overall exports: Earnings from merchandise exports declined by 11.9 per cent in October 2022, over October 2021, to US dollars 1,051 million for the first time since March 2022. Meanwhile, export earnings in October 2022 recorded a decline for the second time on month-on-month basis. A decline in earnings was observed in industrial and agricultural exports, driven by lower demand mainly for garment exports due to increased global inflation conditions, while a marginal increase was recorded in mineral exports. Cumulative export earnings during January-October 2022 increased by 8.9 per cent over the same period in the last year to US dollars 11,032 million, which was mainly driven by the improvements in industrial exports.

Industrial exports: Earnings from the export of industrial goods declined in October 2022 by 13.4 per cent, compared to October 2021, mainly due to the decline in the exports of garments by 12.9 per cent, food, beverages, and tobacco by 51.3 per cent (primarily, miscellaneous food preparations) and transport equipment by 60.7 per cent (due to the base effect of exporting cruise ships in October 2021). Exports of garments to most of the major markets recorded a decline (the USA, the EU and the UK). Further, earnings from exports of petroleum products that comprise bunkering and aviation fuel also declined due to lower export volumes despite a notable increase in average export prices in line with higher global fuel prices.

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CSE’s net foreign inflows cross Rs 20 billion mark



By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The CSE remained bearish yesterday with net foreign inflows year to date crossing more than the Rs 20 billion mark, while both indices began the fresh week positively, stock market analysts said.

Amid those developments the stock market was positive throughout the day, because China has expressed its interest in debt restructuring for Sri Lanka. It has invited the IMF delegation to begin a discussion, market analysts said.

Both indices showed an upward trend. The All- Share Price Index was up by 72.7 points and S and P SL 20 up by 43.6 points.

Turnover stood at Rs 3.1 billion with two crossings; those crossings were reported in Expo Lanka Holdings, which crossed 2.3 million shares to the tune of Rs 403 million and its shares traded at Rs 205 and John Keels Holdings 2.9 million shares crossed to the tune of RS 427 million with its shares trading at Rs 147.

In the retail market top five companies that contributed to the turnover were; Browns Investments Rs 626 million, Expo Lanka Rs 289 million, Dialog Rs 169 million, Lanka IOC Rs 142 million and LOLC Holdings Rs 118 million.

It is said that high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Expo Lanka Holdings.

Mixed interest was noted in Lanka IOC, Aitken Spence and JKH, while retail interest noted in Brown Investments, LOLC Finance and SMB Leasing.

The transport sector was the top contributor to the market turnover on account of Expo Lanka holdings.

During the day 149.5 million share volumes changed hands in 23000 transactions.

Yesterday, the US dollar parity rate was Rs 371.75.

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