Travel Trade Business Forum and B2B meetings with tourism operators a success
World renowned treasure ‘Blue Sapphires’ on display at ‘Day of the Sapphire’
Singing sensation ‘Yohani’ adds to destination Sri Lanka allure
Sri Lanka Tourism partners with ‘Emirates Airlines’ for joint promotions
Destination Sri Lanka stood out last week, on the 3rd, 4th and 5th March at Expo 2020 Dubai, with four planned events earning high global media coverage. Sri Lanka Tourism is proud to announce, the total earned media exposure from this global event, which will conclude at the end of March after running for a period for six months, to be in the range of over USD 2 million, exceeding all expectations.
A high level delegation led by Prasanna Ranatunga, Minister of Tourism Sri Lanka, Malraj De Silva, Sri Lankan Ambassador to UAE, Nalinda Wijerathna, Sri Lanka Consulate General Dubai and Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Tourism were at Expo 2020 and met industry persons at the highest level of representation. ‘Sri Lanka Tourism-Expo Travel Trade Business to Business Forum’ was on 3rd March at the Business Connect Centre, Abu Dhabi Hall with the participation of local tour operators and of over 45 UAE and Gulf based international tour operators. Ms Fernando made a destination pitch at this forum showcasing different facets of destination Sri Lanka and the way forward for Sri Lanka tourism, which was received with enthusiasm both by industry players and the global media
Yohani sings ‘You are my Paradise’
Social media sensation,‘Yohani’stood out as attracting the largest crowd,todate, to the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre on the evening of 5th March. In the presence of over 2000 in the audience, Yohani passionately sang -‘Sri Lanka you are my paradise’ a song of positivity on Mother Lanka,to a bewitched audience which received the song with thunderous applause. Her authentic and unique style and her genuine love for her country captivated the audience and earned her rave reviews, making her the phenomenal youtube sensation that she is. Performing alongside ‘Yohani’ were Sri Lankan super stars Tehani Imara, Dinugi Herath and long standing brand ambassador for Sri Lanka Tourism, Alston Koch opening the evening’s performance with the climate action song ‘Sri Lanka Earth Lung’- a song dedicated specially to creating awareness on ‘climate change’ were all received with applause. Adding colour and vibrancy to the evening was the fusion dance performance by the Upuli Channa Dance Foundation.
‘Day of the Sapphire’
The ‘Day of the Sapphire Exhibition’ was also held on Saturday, 26th February 2022 at the Sri Lanka Pavilion, and the spotlight was on a long known Sri Lankan treasure – the globally acclaimed blue sapphire among a dazzling display of sapphires worth over a $100 million being exhibited. This included the Kufic Arabic a gem known to be over a thousand years old and originating from the 10th Century. Renowned jewellery specialist Helen Molesworth lead a walk-through of the exhibition, explaining the importance of each gemstone and its relevance to Sri Lanka.”Sri Lanka has not only produced gemstones of remarkable quality and variety, but has done so consistently over millennia, a testament to the continual global importance of the true ‘Island of Gems’,” she said.”The island’s most famous and revered gems are the sapphires of Sri Lanka, rightly so as much today as throughout history.”I am honoured to be part of this wonderful showcase of Sri Lanka’s finest sapphires – these miracles of nature from one of the most beautiful places on Earth.” Ms Molesworth said.
MOU with Emirates Airlines
Signing of the MOU with Emirates Airlines ensuring connectivity with Sri Lanka and other global destinations took place on Friday the 4thMarch at the Emirates Headquarters, making it a significant partnership of value to both parties. Emirates Airlines is an ever constant supporter of travel and tourism in Sri Lanka, especially during the height of the pandemic, ensuring connectivity with the destination and enabling the travel and tourism industry to survive and thrive.This MOU will further consolidate the relationship and build greater goodwill, facilitating integrated and aggressive joint promotions of tourism activity with a special focus on the Middle Eastern Market, a strategic tourism market for Sri Lanka. Renewing over 35 years of goodwill between Sri Lanka Tourism and Emirates Airlines. Ahmed Khoory, SVP Commercial West Asia & Indian Ocean of Emirates Airlines, and Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, were signatories to this venture.
Talking about the events, Chairperson Fernando says, ‘We are a small pavilion compared to other countries but the media attention and buzz we were able to create within the expo global village is amazing and we were able to beautifully capture this attention and convert into earned media publicity. This is an enormous gain for the country given the strain due to forex needs for planned promotions. So we very successfully navigate around our constraints and take the destination to the world through strategic media exposure and this was particularly so at Expo 2020 Dubai”
SLT-MOBITEL and Samsung enable 5G on selected Samsung smart devices
Samsung, Sri Lanka’s premier smartphone brand, recently announced its partnership with SLT-Mobitel, to enable 5G technology on selected Samsung devices starting from the first week of June. Samsung users are now equipped with the capability of using their 5G compatible device on SLT-Mobitel’s network to experience the transformative power of 5G at SLT-Mobitel 5G trial zones.
Enabling every Sri Lankan to experience the state-of-the-art 5G technology, SLT-Mobitel’s pioneer 5G technology empowers Samsung users to utilize their products to the full potential with superior broadband connectivity and myriad of benefits that come with the trailblazing next gen connectivity.
“As the National ICT Solutions Provider, we are committed to leading Sri Lanka towards the next phase of technological revolution and the continuation of our partnership with Samsung is a step towards establishing that goal. Being the fastest Mobile network that has been recognized for three consecutive years by Ookla, the global leader in internet testing speeds, SLT-Mobitel Mobile is geared to transform Sri Lanka with our future ready infrastructure and next generation connectivity experience. By enabling 5G for select Samsung Smartphone devices, we are empowering Samsung users to utilize their 5G compatible device to its maximum potential. At SLT-Mobitel, we are continuously looking for innovative ways to deliver exceptional experiences to our customers as we have the technology and infrastructure that can make lives smarter and more efficient with the power of 5G,” said Chief Executive Officer of Mobitel (Pvt) Ltd. Chandika Vitharena.
“We are pumped to be the first smartphone brand to introduce 5G to many of our wide array of smartphones, along with the immense support by SLT-Mobitel. Bringing convenience, style and premium technology to your hand, Samsung is now Future Ready as it is equipped with the latest benefits brought to you by 5G. 5G is the latest introduced to Samsung Galaxy devices to ensure that it gets utilized to the maximum capacity. With 5G starting to roll out across Sri Lanka, it won’t be long before the whole country is connected to a better mobile network. Samsung has always been committed to ensuring that consumers get the best out of their smartphones, and that is why our 5G rollout is happening at a vast scale. Consumers can now achieve their dream potential through their Galaxy smartphones with 5G,” said Mr. Kevin SungSu YOU, Managing Director, Samsung Sri Lanka.
Samsung Galaxy smartphones are 5G devices that come with support for nos.12, 5G bands. This means as the 5G network is rolled out in Sri Lanka by SLT-Mobitel, they will support the premium 5G technology. Even before commercialization of 5G network in Sri Lanka, Samsung has leaped ahead to ensure that its consumers are future ready by offering smartphones with up to 12 5G bands support – N1, N3, N5, N7, N8, N20, N28, N38, N40, N41, N66 and N78.
With Galaxy 5G, users will get assured 5G connectivity no matter what the 5G band in Sri Lanka is and will get access to uninterrupted nationwide access to any 5G network (subject to operator network availability). The seamless 5G support will help download, share and stream content at blazing fast speeds.
Reported progress at IMF staff level agreement talks peps share market
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The CSE fell within the first hour of trading after opening to a stronger market yesterday but during the latter part of the day it witnessed some recovery with the announcement of some progress made at the IMF staff level agreement talks, stock market analysts said.
It is said that the latest IMF talks with Sri Lanka have made significant progress towards developing a policy package to stabilize the country but the latter has to move forward on debt restructuring to finalize a bailout, market sources said.
“The staff team and the authorities made significant progress on defining a macroeconomic and structural policy package, IMF sources were quoted as saying.
The discussions will continue virtually with a view to reaching a staff-level agreement on the EFF arrangement in the near term. Because public debt is assessed as unsustainable, the IMF Executive Board would require adequate financing assurances from Sri Lanka’s creditors that debt sustainability will be restored, which would give some relief to the country, stock markets analysts said.
The analyst also pointed out that they are seeing a trend in investors moving to energy sector shares following the adoption of a price formula.
“In a high inflation market, energy sector shares become lucrative. This we have seen in other markets too and it will strengthen more when a price formula is imposed on the electricity sector too, market analysts added.
Amid those developments both indices moved downwards. The All-Share Price Index went down by 23.6 points and S and P SL20 declined by 11 points. Turnover stood at Rs 785 million with a single crossing. The crossing was reported in Nations Finance PLC, which crossed 85 million shares to the tune of Rs 51 million; its shares traded at 60 cents.
In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Expolanka Holdings Rs 244 million (1.4 million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 182 million (2.5 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 31.1 million (four million shares traded), TJ Lanka Rs 29.2 million (763,000 shares traded), Renuka Holdings Rs 21.8 million (1.5 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 17.7 million (45000 shares traded) and Softlogic Holdings Rs 16.3 million (622,000 shares traded). During the day 115 million share volumes changed hands in 9500 transactions.
Yesterday the Central Bank announced the US dollar buying rate as Rs 355.76 and the selling rate as Rs. 367.12. With prudent fiscal and monetary policies the rupee is strengthening, financial sources said.
Tourism stakeholders voice concern over non-implementation of debt moratorium extension
By Hrian H.Senewiratne
The Cabinet approved a six- month moratorium extension for the tourism sector 21 days ago but it’s yet to be implemented, president, Tourist Hotels Association
M. Shanthikumar said.
“The entire tourism industry is on the verge of collapse and accommodation providers and other service providers are on the brink of closure or have already closed. The debt moratorium which was given by banks will end this month and the moratorium needs to be extended amid the current crisis, Shanthikumar told the media at a press conference at Hotel Ramada on Monday.
While thanking Minister Harin Fernando for getting swift Cabinet approval for the moratorium extension, Shanthikumar expressed surprise at the almost one- month delay in implementing it by the Central Bank and another committee appointed to oversee it.
“The US dollar loans that were taken by tourism stakeholders to develop their respective properties add up to around Rs. 500 million (with interest) to banks and the industry is asking for a six -month debt moratorium extension for this. This will also not have a major negative impact on the banking industry as our industry’s total borrowings are only around 5 per cent of the total lendings of banks, Asoka Hettigoda, another major figure in the tourism industry told the press conference.
“If the industry is not offered this moratorium and they are unable to meet their debt obligations it will have a negative impact on the entire banking sector and its non- performing loan ratio which in turn will reflect badly on the banks, he said.
Hettigoda added: “The tourism sector has also been a very faithful paymaster and when the industry recovers the loans due to the banks can and would be settled.
Another stalwart in the industry, Anura Lokuhetty, said that already some hotels, specially in the SME sector, are closing down and if the moratorium is not extended for another six months there will be a total job loss of around 40 per cent, which is around 200,000 jobs; a very alarming scenario for the economy. “It must be said that if this happens, calculating also dependents of tourism industry personnel, the loss of livelihoods would be around one million.”
“We are confident that the industry is on the recovery path and the industry is confident that it can net in tourism forex in excess of USD 1 billion from the remaining six months. Sri Lanka is heading for the winter season and we see a very positive trend in our forward bookings despite the current economic and political issues in Sri Lanka. We saw this positive vibe even during the LTTE separatist war, another Industry giant Hiran Cooray said.
Cooray said that in the first five months of the year the tourism industry earned more than US $ 400 million and the coming six month would be crucial for the industry with the upcoming winter season. “If the government considers the debt moratorium for the next six months the industry could bring more than US $ one billion in foreign reserves into the country, he said.
Cooray said due to the Russian war, travel to the EU is restricted and the industry expects the Russian and the Chinese markets to also reopen soon, allowing the tourism industry to go beyond the USD 1 billion revenue mark for the next six months.
Meanwhile, Nilmin Nanayakkara, who is also a tourism industry live-wire said that they are asking for the moratorium because tourist arrivals have dropped due to the May 9 incident and political mismanagement. “The industry did not create this negative sentiment and we are not responsible for this and this accounts for the request by the industry for a moratorium, he said.
“We have to save this industry from drowning. Since the Easter Sunday bomb blast followed by the pandemic, the sector survived purely due to the moratorium extended by the government and the relief package given for its survival. Hotels that employ over 70 per cent of the workforce were able to sustain the staff and cover the basic costs due to these relief measures, he added.
Members of THASL and SLAITO alone invest over Rs. 2 billion annually to promote Sri Lanka in overseas markets. This is over and above the contribution of 1 per cent of the turnover from the industry to SLTDA in the form of TDL to develop and promote tourism. In 2018, this was an additional Rs 1.5 billion.
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