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Move to bring Russian holidaymakers to Sri Lanka



By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Sri Lanka’s two international airports, Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Katunayake and Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA), Mattala, will be partly opened from December 29 to January 16 to accommodate Russian tourists.

Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga told The Island Financial Review that the pilot project approved by the Cabinet is aimed at bringing around 6,000 holidaymakers from Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine adhering to health guidelines in Sri Lanka.

Sixteen hotels with beach frontage in Beruwala, Koggala ,Bentota, Ahungalle and Kalutara have been selected for the Russian tourists who arrive in the hotels from the airport after a compulsory second PCR test (first in Russia before 72 hours) prior to check in.

“These tourists will arrive on charter flights and each tourist is expected to spend about US$ 1500 a day,” he added.

The beach and roads leading to the hotels will be isolated to ensure that no Sri Lankans would come in contact with the tourists, and hotel staffs will stay in the hotels for 21 days.

Further speaking the former Russian Ambassador said:

“This would be a one-month pilot project and all flights will be charter flights with landing charges removed for airlines”.

“Four major airlines namely Aeroflot, Ukraine International Air, Sky Airlines and SCAT Airline have expressed their willingness to bring tourists to Sri Lanka. Initially, Ukraine International Airlines will bring 214 passengers to the country.”

“Russians are looking forward to travelling to destinations, especially by the sea, to spend their holidays. The age group of this segment is between 30-40 years. At a time the entire tourism sector has been affected due to non-arrival of tourists owing to Covid-19 pandemic, this would be a real boost for the sector.”

“Last year, about 45 million Russians travelled across the globe. 44,000 of these travellers would visit Sri Lanka if the country takes steps to accommodate them”.

“We need to establish more all-inclusive hotels and engage more Russian speaking staff to make the Russian tourists feel more comfortable”.

“Gem shops and souvenir stalls in these hotels also would be able to gain from this initiative. All stakeholders will get together, discuss and decide on a coordinated programme to make this a reality”, Weeratunga said.

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HNB promotes cashless transactions; joins CBSL’s ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign



Chief Guest for the event Money and Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal, CBSL Deputy Governor and National Payments Council chairperson Yvette Fernando, and CBSL Payments and Settlements Director D. Kumaratunge with HNB Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Dilshan Rodrigo as he completes a transaction via HNB SOLO at a merchant stall

HNB PLC, partnered with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to promote the Colombo-leg of ‘Rata Purama LANKA QR’ campaign at Diyatha Uyana, to raise awareness and encourage the public towards cashless payments.

Having already linked LANKA QR to its digital payment app HNB SOLO, the bank was among other financial institutions and telecommunication partners in joining efforts to make cashless QR-code based payments the standard for mobile phones and digital payments countrywide, in moving towards a cashless and digitally-savvy Sri Lanka.

“We are entering a new era of financial technology, where almost all of our daily transactions will require no physical banknotes, but just a smartphone and internet connection with our bank account integrated to a digital payment app.

The Central Bank’s national directive for banks and financial institutions to adopt and integrate LANKA QR into their existing digital payment solutions has prompted an aggressive onboarding of merchants to the new payment solution across the country. With our extensive customer base, SOLO is no doubt a significant contributor to this innovative initiative,” HNB Deputy General Manager – Retail and SME Banking, Sanjay Wijemanne said.

The Colombo-leg of the ‘Rata Purama LANKA QR’ campaign raised awareness regarding SOLO’s many facilities, including zero human interaction, efficiency, and eliminated risks that influenced many vendors to come on board.



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Sri Lanka Insurance posts a staggering revenue of Rs. 55.2 billion during 2020



Amidst the turbulent and challenging year Sri Lanka Insurance has closed year 2020 on a positive note recording phenomenal revenue growth with exceptional service innovations.

Sri Lanka Insurance the premier insurer to the nation recorded stellar performance in 2020 to record Rs. 55.2 billion revenue for the year, a marked improvement on the Rs.48.6 billion in the year 2019, a press release said.

It adds – In the year of 2020 Sri Lanka Insurance reported 30 % growth in life insurance premium increasing to Rs.19.2 billion whilst general insurance reported 7% growth in premium grew to Rs. 20.1 billion. The company achieved a combined Gross Written Premium (GWP) growth rate of 17 % during the year. General insurance contributed 51% towards the total GWP whilst Life Insurance contributed 49 %.

‘In continuing with its tradition of leadership, Sri Lanka Insurance in 2020 surpassed its own record to declare a sum of Rs.8.2 billion as bonus to policyholders. The cumulative life insurance bonus paid out during the past 10 years tops a massive Rs.54 billion making the SLIC bonus payout unmatchable.

‘As the national insurer we have witnessed yet another challenging year and the consequences brought out by pandemic outbreak urged us to conduct our business operations in a more empathetic manner. SLIC has always taken the lead to protect the nation and during this difficult time Sri Lanka Insurance launched many initiatives to sustain country’s health defenses while ensuring our customers receive uninterrupted insurance service.

‘As the pioneering insurance company in Sri Lanka we are in the forefront to inculcate the importance of insurance to the masses as a national responsibility on our shoulders. We will further strengthen internal capabilities to serve the nation through innovative and affordable insurance solutions which cater to all Sri Lankans under the ‘Insurance for All” concept. Even though the times are defining we will continue protecting our nation turning obstacles into opportunities.’ noted .Jagath Wellawatta, chairman of SLIC.

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Bank of Ceylon empowering nation with Lanka Q



The Bank of Ceylon in its mission to assist the government initiative to empower Sri Lanka through digital technology is joining the customer awareness campaign of Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s Lanka QR digital platform.

Bank of Ceylon had its most recent major awareness programs in Borella and Maharagama along with the other branches in Colombo District in line with the Central Bank’s main program held in “Diyatha Uyana” with the participation of all Lanka QR certified banks on the same day.

Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has organized a series of awareness and promotion campaigns for popularizing Lanka QR with the participation of all Lanka QR certified financial institutions throughout the country with the aim of speeding up the customer adaptation process towards digital banking.

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