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Sri Lanka Tourism kicks-starts an aggressive media and travel influencer campaign for Russia and Ukraine markets

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(Two groups of elite travel writers & influencers from Russia & Ukraine were invited and facilitated by Sri Lanka Tourism)

Targeting on immediate promotional boost within potential Russian and Ukrainian winter-holiday seekers, Sri Lanka Tourism has organized massive media and influencer promotion in the months of November/ December 2021 together with some high profile media / influencer delegations with a combined media reach of 12 million audience (in total circulation & subscriptions) covering both countries. Considering the current global travel trends, this is expected to be an important strategic move for Sri Lanka tourism for a speedy recover.

Due to the pandemic concerns, travelers are reluctant to make early bookings in advance and much prefer make quick travel decisions by analyzing the latest travel updates and recommendations. Considering this ‘New Normal Travel Patterns” organizing last moment media promotions will strategically position the island as a top of the mind holiday destination during the last moment winter holiday planning for 2021/2022.

Excluding all CIS countries (where Russians travel mostly for work and to visit their relatives), Turkey is the most popular country for Russians (as well as for Ukrainians) by a significant margin. 3.9 million Russian tourists visited the country in January-September 2017 and almost a million more (4.9 million) in the same period in 2018. Besides Turkey, the most popular countries among Russian tourists are: China, Thailand, Spain, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Germany, UAE, and Tunisia.

According to ‘Visa’- the international payment company, released their Visa Global Travel Intentions Study and revealed how much money people from different countries spend on a trip. Between 2016 and 2017, Russian travelers spent $1,676 per one trip – more than European travelers who spend $1,174. At the same time, 51% of the budget is spent before the trip, and 49% – at the place of destination. 70% of Russians use bank cards when they plan their travel trips (www.tourism-review.com). In 2020 alone, over 12 million Russians travel abroad which is a 45 % decrease from the year before in 2019- (approximately 19.8 million in 2019) and 2.1 million tourists were visiting Turkey.

These eleven (11) high prolific travel writers (representing key media publications) and travel influencers (Instagram & YouTube) were invited to Sri Lanka from 21st November to 8th December period to increase awareness about the reopening of Destination Sri Lanka for international tourists from 1st of October.

Some of the key publications invited are: Vogue- Ukraine : https://vogue.ua/,

Harper’s Bazzar- Russia: https://bazaar.ru/, Total Escape- Ukraine: https://escapemgz.com/ ,

Areoflot Inflight Magazine- Russia : https://www.aeroflot.ru/ruen/information/onboard/entertainment .

Also, famous Ukrainian Travel Bloggers & Instagramer Yana Usipava  (539,000 followings in Instagram -Link: https://www.instagram.com/yana_osypova/) and Maxis & Olha Uzol from the popular YouTube travel vlog : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwv4Vw-oa1cTPd4sfvDuSJw have also been part of this Sri Lanka Tourism’s media & influencer promotion .

According to Ms. Maria Alikhanova Golikova Director for Tourism at Aeroflot In-flight Magazine

‘while popular high end destinations for Russians such as Italy, France, Bali (Indonesia) are still in hold to welcome Russian travelers, there is greater opportunity for emerging destinations like Sri Lanka to grab the market attention. Since there is direct flight connection now, Sri Lanka can be easily positioned as top of the mind tropical travel option to consider during the upcoming seasons 2021/2022.

To add on with that Ms. Maria Kudimova, Editor of Ukrainian travel magazine Total Escape has stated that “By combining amazing beaches with wild safaris, breathtakingly beautiful highlands, rich local cuisines Sri Lanka has all the elements to become a perfect island holiday destination for Ukrainian travelers. “

Ms. Maria Kudimova, Editor of Ukrainian travel magazine Total Escape,Trying Sri Lankan Prawns Curry at ANI –Resorts ,Dickwella .

Popular Ukrainian Travel Influencer Ms. Yana Osipava invited all of her virtual fans to explore Sri Lanka by stating:

“First time in Sri Lanka and I was so excited to witness Beautiful beaches, Great Hotels, Wild Elephants and Heritages such as Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

(Ms. Yana visiting a Turtle Hatchery in Kosgoda)

According to Ms Yulia Markovchina , Public Relations Director for La Bibliotheque -Russia :

‘’Sri Lanka has so much to offer for Russian and Ukrainian high-end travel market and potential luxury travelers are still not fully aware about the Destination’’

Both media & travel influencer groups traveled separately around the island covering Koggala, Dickwella, Yala, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy,  Habarana and Colombo . Local Tourism & Hospitality Industry partners including ANI Sri Lanka Resort –Dickwella, Amaya Resorts & Spa (Langdale Boutique Hotel by Amaya), Jetwing Yala Hotel, The Fortress Resorts & Spa, The Galle Face Hotel, The Theva Residency- Kandy , Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts and Table by Taru have joined hands with Sri Lanka Tourism Promoion Bureau to undertake the destination promotions.

Wild Safari at Minneriya National Park by Maksym Uzol from YouTube Channel UZOL AND MANKO

Invited media and travel influencers will be expecting share the unique experiences try have enjoyed in Sri Lanka within their millions of travel seeking audiences in Russia and Ukraine and invite them to explore Sri Lanka as their next bucket list destination.

Overall, with the pandemic lockdown and stages of travel restrictions, Sri Lanka Tourism has continued to undertake various media & travel influencer related promotions to ‘’Keep The Sri Lankan Holiday Dream Alive’’. Total of 24 International media personnel and travel influncers were facilitated in Sri Lanka within the last 11 months and reached to over 25 million global audience via various online news articles, YouTube vlogs, Instagram & Facebook Posts, etc. Key source markets were focused on including India, UK, UAE, Russia, Ukraine, USA & Canada and Norway. Under Sri Lanka Tourism’s Visiting Journalists & Blogger Programs during the period of 2021, destination Sri Lanka has been featured in many mainstream online news channels and social media platforms. Approximately over 500 various ONLINE & Social Media Posts were created about destination Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was featured at BBC.travel in May 2021

(Link: https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20210502-the-unsolved-mystery-of-sri-lankas-stargate)

Authentic Sri Lankan Food Culture promoted via YouTube in July 2021

(Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRBmu-eHeBE )

Sri Lanka Re-open Back for Int. Tourists and Travel Bio-Bubble

(Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGKwnJYiAAg)

Contact: Public Relations Division

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau 80, Galle Road, Colombo 03. 94 112 426 900, sureshnie@srilanka.travel



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Conclusion of phase 1 of private placement of Ordinary Shares of JKH to ADB

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Krishan Balendra Chairman JKH

Following is the text of a letter addressed by JKH Deputy Chairman/Group Finance Director Gihan Cooray to the CSE’s Chief Regulatory Officer Renuke Wijayawardhana.

Further to the announcements to the Colombo Stock Exchange on 22 November 2021 and 22 December 2021 regarding the Private Placement of up to a maximum cumulative amount of the Sri Lankan Rupee (“LKR”) equivalent of USD 80 million to Asian Development Bank (“ADB”), through the issuance of up to a maximum of 122,500,000 new ordinary shares of the Company in two phases (Phase 1 & Phase 2), we wish to inform that Phase 1 of the Private Placement of ordinary shares of the Company to ADB was concluded on 19 January 2022.

Accordingly, 65,042,006 ordinary shares (“Initial Placement Shares”) of the Company were allotted to ADB at a price of LKR 154.50 per share on 19 January 2022 for a consideration of the LKR equivalent of USD 50 million. The Initial Placement Shares results in a post-issue dilution of 4.70 per cent in Phase 1 of the transaction.

Additionally, in terms of Phase 2, the Company has issued 39,025,204 non-tradable/non-transferable options (“Options”), which will entitle ADB to subscribe for additional new ordinary shares of the Company (“Option Shares”), for an investment amount of up to a maximum of the LKR equivalent of USD 30 million.

Therefore, the maximum number of ordinary shares that would potentially be issued under the entire transaction, assuming all Option Shares are subscribed for, will be 104,067,210, thereby capping the post-issue dilution on the conclusion of both phases to a maximum of 7.31 per cent.

The salient details of the Options are as morefully detailed in the Shareholder Circular dated 29 November 2021. Based on the subscription date of the Initial Placement Shares, the Option Exercise Period will be from 19 October 2022 to 18 January 2023.

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Bangladesh – Sri Lanka Preferential Trade Agreement: Gains and policy challenges

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By Asanka Wijesinghe and Chathurrdhika Yogarajah

0espite enhanced trade partnerships in South Asia, intra-regional trade is far from reaching its theoretical potential. Similar production patterns and competitive sectors can be the causes. However, bilateral discussions to further lower trade costs continue. The ongoing Bangladesh-Sri Lanka discussions on a preferential trade agreement (PTA) will benefit from knowing the potential gains from reducing bilateral trade costs. In addition, knowledge of products with higher potential for export gains will help optimise the economic benefits from a trade deal.

Bangladesh – Sri Lanka Trade:
The Current Status

In 2018, when discussions on a PTA began to firm up, Sri Lanka’s exports to Bangladesh were USD 133 million, while imports from Bangladesh were USD 37 million. Despite the low trade volume, Sri Lanka’s exports to Bangladesh have grown (Figure 1). In addition, Sri Lanka records a bilateral trade surplus with Bangladesh, which is encouraging given the country’s trade deficit concerns. However, weak growth of exports from Bangladesh to Sri Lanka can be seen from 2001 to 2016 (Figure 1).

The current trade deals between the two countries are still partially restrictive. Both countries keep a sensitive list of products that are not eligible for tariff cuts. Sri Lanka maintains a list of 925 products sanctioned by SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) while Bangladesh keeps 993 products. Sri Lanka’s sensitive list covers USD 6.2 million or 23.8% of imports from Bangladesh. The sensitive list of Bangladesh covers USD 77.6 million or 62% of imports from Sri Lanka. Thus, the elimination of sensitive lists may benefit Sri Lanka more.

Figure 1: Trade Intensity between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

Source: Authors’ Illustration using Trademap Data.

Theoretically, bilateral alliances deepen trade by removing weaknesses in existing multilateral trade arrangements. A trade deal between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka can simplify trade regulations further. In addition, Bangladesh needs alternative preferential access as graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status will take away preferential access to its key markets. For Sri Lanka, increasing bilateral participation in production value chains, especially in the textiles sector, might be an economic motivation. Financial support extended by Bangladesh to manage Sri Lanka’s foreign currency pressures might be a political motivation for a trade deal.

Eliminating sensitive lists can lead to trade creation, although it may not happen due to political and economic reasons. When it comes to tariff cuts, both countries will act defensively as certain products in the sensitive lists are vital for employment and revenue generation. Thus, the success of a trade deal depends on how many products with high export potential are under its purview. In this direction, a group of products with specific characteristics can be identified as an offensive list. For example, Sri Lanka’s offensive list includes products that Bangladesh imports from anywhere in the world, produced by Sri Lanka with a capacity for expansion. Sri Lanka has a comparative advantage in exporting that good, and Bangladesh already has a tariff on the product.

Export Gains from Tariff Elimination

If tariffs on the sensitive lists are eliminated, there will be modest export gains for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in absolute terms. Sri Lanka will gain USD 24.7 to 49.7 million of exports to Bangladesh, while Bangladesh will gain USD 2.1 to 4.5 million of exports to Sri Lanka. Potential export gains are given in a range due to assumptions on elasticity values used in the partial equilibrium model. Elimination of sensitive lists will generate a higher tariff revenue loss to Bangladesh, ranging between USD 13.5 million to USD 19.1 million. By contrast, Sri Lanka’s revenue loss will be slight at USD 1.4 million to USD 1.9 million.

Whatever the arrangement, it is crucial to include the products with high export potential in the offensive lists (See Table 1 for the major products). Out of 39 products in Bangladesh’s offensive list, 21 are intermediate goods, while 18 are consumption goods. Similarly, 75 out of 115 products in Sri Lanka’s offensive list are intermediate goods. Tariff cuts on intermediate products may induce fragmented production between two countries, which would harness country-specific comparative advantages. Major intermediate goods in the offensive lists are dyed cotton fabrics, cartons, boxes, and cases, plain woven fabrics of cotton, denim, natural rubber, and smoked sheets of natural rubber (Table 1).

The ex-ante estimates predict modest gains for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in absolute terms, even after completely removing the sensitive list. But complete removal is politically challenging for both countries. Moreover, Bangladesh as an LDC may expect special and differential (S&D) treatment. Thus, the outcome can be a limited PTA in line with weaknesses in existing trade agreements governing South Asian trade. The impact on trade of regional trade agreements in force is negative primarily due to stringent general regulatory measures, including rules of origin (ROO), sensitive lists, and prolonged phasing-in. Given that the estimated modest economic gains of a Bangladesh-Sri Lanka PTA do not justify a trade deal that requires substantial resources for negotiations,the PTA should have fewer regulatory measures and tariff concessions for the products on the offensive lists to maximise the economic benefits of a PTA between the two countries.

Link to the full Talking Economics blog: https://www.ips.lk/talkingeconomics/2022/01/20/bangladesh-sri-lanka-preferential-trade-agreement-gains-and-policy-challenges/

Asanka Wijesinghe is a Research Economist at IPS with research interests in macroeconomic policy, international trade, labour and health economics. He holds a BSc in Agricultural Technology and Management from the University of Peradeniya, an MS in Agribusiness and Applied Economics from North Dakota State University, and an MS and PhD in Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics from The Ohio State University. (Talk with Asanka – asanka@ips.lk)

Chathurrdhika Yogarajah is a Research Assistant at IPS with research interests in macroeconomics and trade policy. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Technology and Management, specialised in Applied Economics and Business Management from the University of Peradeniya with First Class Honours. She is currently reading for her Master’s in Agricultural Economics at the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, Peradeniya. (Talk with Chathurrdhika: chathurrdhika@ips.lk)

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Expolanka boosts bourse by adding 21.7 points to ASPI

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

CSE trading started in negative territory yesterday due to heavy profit- takings but after 1 pm the market began to recover, triggered by index heavy counter Expolanka, which gained by adding 21.7 points to the All-Share Price Index. The stock market yesterday produced a creditable recovery to finish on a positive note after early losses amid a relatively low but healthy turnover level. The Expolanka share price appreciated by 2.5 per cent or Rs 9.50. Its shares started trading at Rs 386 and at the end of the day they shot up by Rs 9.50.

Amid those developments both indices moved upwards. The All -Share Price Index went up by 42.8 points and S and P SL20 rose by 7 points. Turnover stood at Rs 4.9 billion with a single crossing. The crossing was reported in Expolanka, which crossed 100,000 shares to the tune of Rs 39.5 million and its shares traded at Rs 395.

In the retail market, top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Expolanka Rs 715 million (1.8 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 336 million (19.9 million shares traded), ACL Cables Rs 261 million (2.1 million shares traded), LOLC Finance Rs 231 million (8.1 million shares traded), JKH Rs 193 million (1.2 million shares traded), Expack Corrugated Cartons Rs 162 million (seven million shares traded) and  Softlogic Capital Rs 161 million (11.3 million shares traded). During the day 154 million share volumes changed hands in 37000 transactions.

Yesterday, the US dollar was quoted at Rs 202.91, which was the controlled price of the Central Bank. The actual price would be more than Rs 250, market sources said.

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