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Rich Indians are holidaying in Maldives, emerge as top source market

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN,

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, January 9: Wealthy Indians are flocking to Maldives for a holiday. Last year, they became that country’s top source market: 62,905 Indian tourists made it their holiday destination. They accounted for 11.3% of the total market share, according to the Indian High Commission in Male.

Maldives is one of the few countries open to international tourists during the Covid-19 pandemic. Five Indian cities have flights to Male with five airlines operating there under the air bubble formed between the two countries

Maldives had allowed international tourists from July 15, 2020 with free visa-on-arrival. The archipelago does not have mandatory quarantine or testing on arrival for foreign tourists.

“All tourists are required to submit an online health declaration form within 24 hours prior to departure… All tourists are required to hold a negative PCR test for Covid-19 conducted 96 hours prior the scheduled time of departure from the first port of embarkation en route to Maldives,” says the website of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), the national tourism office of the Maldives.

Since the country opened up, a lot of hotels and resorts have hosted rich and famous Indians, including Bollywood celebrities like Tiger Shroff, Tapsee Pannu, Katrina Kaif, Varun Dhawan, Neha Dhupia, Disha Patani, Eli Avram and Mouni Roy. Some of their posts on social media have given their followers a glimpse of this island country where you can truly sit back, relax and forget the pandemic.

 It has helped boost business. “We have had several top celebrities from India holidaying in the Maldives. This assured others of the stringent safety measures we have taken,” says Thoyyib Mohamed, MD, Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

 Even before the pandemic, Maldives had begun emerging as a favourite destination for Indians. “The Indian market has shown significant growth over recent years and by the end of 2019 the growth was 83.5% with a market share of 9.7 % and ranked second biggest source market in terms of arrivals,” adds Mohamed.

 The honeymoon market is especially big in the Maldives. “Our natural beauty, rich marine life and excellent hospitality makes us a hot spot for honeymooners. India is the world’s second largest wedding market globally, and many Indian tourists visit Maldives for their honeymoon.

 “Based on the arrival figures of 2019, India is ranked in the second position of the highest performing markets to the Maldives. It is one of the key focused markets after the reopening of borders on 15th July 2020,” the MMPRC website says.

 “All tourists are granted a 30-day free visa upon arrival. Quarantine upon arrival is not required. However, if the passenger has a fever, cough or shortness of breath on board the flight or upon arrival, it should be informed to the local health protection agency. All tourists must undergo thermal screening at the arrival terminal (and) wear masks,” it adds.

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CBSL foresees brighter growth prospects in 2021

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne 

Sri Lanka’s 2021 GDP growth prospects  seem positive despite the economy contracting by 1.7 per cent and 16.3 per cent in the first and second quarters of 2020. However, the economy rebounded in the third quarter of 2020 and registered a growth of 1.5 per cent, Central Bank Governor Prof. W. D.Lakshman said.

“However, the second wave of COVID-19 is expected to have dampened the momentum in the fourth quarter of 2020. Accordingly, the economy is expected to have contracted by around 3.9 per cent in 2020, Central Bank Governor said while releasing the CBSL monetary policy review yesterday.

“Nevertheless, the economy is well poised to rebound in 2021, supported by the unprecedented policy stimulus measures introduced by the government and the Central Bank, improved domestic economic sentiments, alongside the improving prospects of the global economy, Lakshman told the media online.

He said the Monetary Board has decided to continue with its accommodative monetary policy stance.

Headline inflation is projected to remain subdued in the near term and improvements in domestic supply conditions are expected to ease price pressures on a sustained basis.

The Central Bank Governor also said the CBSL will continue to monitor domestic and global macroeconomic and financial market developments and take further measures appropriately to ensure that the economy promptly reverts to its true potential of a high growth trajectory, while maintaining inflation in the targeted 4-6 per cent range under its flexible inflation targeting framework.

Accordingly, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, at its meeting held on January 18, decided to maintain the Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) and the Standing Lending Facility Rate (SLFR) of the Central Bank at their current levels of 4.50 percent and 5.50 percent, respectively.

The Board arrived at this decision after carefully considering the macroeconomic conditions and expected developments on the domestic and global fronts, Governor Lakshman said.

“The Board, having noted the reduction in overall market lending rates during 2020, stressed the need for a continued downward adjustment in lending rates to boost economic growth in the absence of demand driven inflationary pressures, particularly considering the significant levels of excess liquidity prevailing in the domestic money market, Lakshman explained.

As announced in November 2020, the Board decided to introduce priority sector lending targets for the micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSME) sector to support a broad-based economic revival, in consultation with the banking community.

‘Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product is projected to grow 6.0 percent in 2021, recovering from a 3.9 percent slump in 2020, Central Bank’s Director of Economic Research Chandranath Amarasekara said.

‘We now expect the economy to record a growth of 6 percent, Amarasekara told the media.  

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COVID-19 – elderly in isolation; how to manage their care?

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The COVID-19 pandemic which appeared in 2020, has resulted in a drastic change to our lifestyles. From lockdowns and quarantines, the practice of social distancing and stringent travel restrictions instigate feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially among the elderly who sometimes live alone, with loved ones living far away.

The current pandemic elevates the need for proper and appropriate care for the elderly. Those aged 60 and above, with underlying medical conditions, are at higher risk for severe illness if contracted with COVID-19. Living alone during this time can be difficult for elders, as there are many variables that need to be looked after from; medication and physiotherapy to name a few. Additionally, the need for minimal interaction as a safety measure can result your elderly in feeling frustrated or depressed. This is a time when your elderly loved one requires someone to care for them and ensure their physical and mental well-being.

Founder and Managing Director of expert Home Nursing Service, English Nursing Sri Lanka, Richard Gould said, “Creating a reliable, high quality professional service, which takes care of your elderly loved one responsibly, with compassion and utmost dignity is vital. As our healthcare professionals are at the front line of battling the virus, we as a reliable home nursing care take it as our responsibility to step up and deliver for those unable to take care of their elders due to this global pandemic.”

How to manage their care?

English Nursing Sri Lanka; a home nursing and elderly care solutions provider, offers services to give your elderly parents or loved ones care and compassion in the comfort of their own home. Their services include; high quality Generic Home Nursing Services, Managed Maid Services and a Care Companion Service.

The Generic home nursing is the more popular option, where a well-trained, certified nurse conducts a thorough study on the house environment to understand all resources required for the best care routine. Encompassing these details, a unique customized plan is curated and executed, making the most of your investment towards caring for your senior loved ones.

Recently, English Nursing also introduced its ‘Managed Maid Service’, the first of its kind in the country which allows people to up-skill their existing housemaids to provide proper eldercare, alongside certified tried and true techniques when it comes to looking after ailing seniors at home. The service is much more affordable for customers in the long run and is a great option if you trust your existing help and would prefer him/her to continue helping around at home.

For people looking for more affordable short-term care or for a simpler more companion based service for their parents or other senior citizens, English Nursing Sri Lanka offers its ‘Care Companion’ service. It opens the doors for people to access various eldercare services on demand for relatively healthier seniors that don’t require full-time care and attention.

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Rising startups keen to tap stock market for external funding

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Board members of The Startup Council-Standing (L to R)  Chandula Abeywickrama(Founder & Chairman – Lanka Impact-Investment Network). Achala Samaradivakara (Co-Founder & Managing Director – Good Market) Imal Kulathotage (CEO – nCinga) ,Yasura Samarakoon (Manager – Business and Trade Promotion, The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce).Seated (L – R) Prajeeth Balasubramaniam (Managing Partner -BoV Capital- chairman- Startup Council). Shalin Balasuriya, (Co-founder -Spa Ceylon), Brindha Selvadurai-Gnanam (Co Founder –Hatch),Mangala Karunaratne -(Founder & CEO – Calcey Technologies)

by Sanath Nanayakkare

Rising startups in Sri Lanka are keen to tap the stock market for external funding for product development, product launches and scale up and expand their their businesses in new markets, The Island Financial Review learned at a forum held by the Council For Startups, established by the The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

The Council provides entrepreneurs with exclusive opportunities and access to international markets

Prajeeth Balasubramaniam Founder, Lankan Angel Network/Managing Partner, BoV Capital who is also the chairman of the Council speaking to The Island Financial Review said,” Today people who have money pour that into the stock market because interest rates have come down. People who used to make higher interest rates are not making that and they are putting that into the stock market because they feel they can get better returns. Similarly if they can channel some of that money through the banking sector or other sources into startups it would be good. The CSE is regulated and the private sector is not going to put money into startups. If the government regulates startup projects and their funding structures then banks and private investors will feel that the risks are minimized and then they will join in to reap the rewards by investing in them”.

“Spring Singapore is a government startups initiative. Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings has put a lot of money into that. If we can create a similar situation people will be convinced that they won’t end up in trouble by investing in startups,” he said.

Imal Kalutotage, CEO of nCinga said,”nCinga was highly fortunate to expand regionally with the support the Ceylon Chamber and its global partners. Via the Chamber, its global partners and members, we were able to attract customers for accelerated growth and investors who also helped us with exit in December 2019. We now have a national body to help provide invaluable market access for startups and am happy to be a part of this to help other entrepreneurs grow”.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce recently established the Council for for Startups to address the key needs and challenges of SMEs and startups through allocation of a range of easily accessible opportunities, including access to local and international markets for various partnerships.

Inaugurated in September 2020, the Council for Startups primarily aims to foster a thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurship, which facilitates economic growth and empowerment of startups and SMEs in Sri Lanka.

Offering a highly influential and knowledgeable advantage, the CCC provides the cumulative support of 600 members to promote business opportunities for startups. These alliances (20 Global Chambers, 38Trade/Product and Service Associations and 21 Bilateral Business Councils) position the Chamber in an ideal position to promote business opportunities.

The Council recognizes the benefits of sustaining ripe economic conditions and marketing opportunities for startups and further aims to use its resources and partnerships with high commissions, foreign Chambers of Commerce for startups, and consulting firms in order to create a secure infrastructure that drives optimal business performance.

 

 

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