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‘Strict health protocols vital for safety of travellers when airport reopens’

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As COVID-19 is a health pandemic affecting most nations and Sri Lanka, there need to be strict health protocols to ensure the safety of not only our citizens but also international travellers.

For this purpose, Sri Lanka Tourism published the Health Protocol for the Tourism Sector in June 2020 based on global best practices, giving ample time for the industry to be familiar with the guidelines.

Tourism entry protocols and preparedness

Sri Lanka Tourism was one of the first in the Asian region to prepare and issue a comprehensive COVID-19 Health Protocol for the industry which was developed and issued with the support of the Ministry of Health, the UN World Health Organization and the input of the industry.

Currently, over 92 establishments; accommodation providers & tour operators have been awarded the Safe & Secure Certification to service & accommodate international tourists for the first 14 days. We continue to audit and award certifications.

Global recognition

Sri Lanka received the Safe Travel Stamp from World Travel & Tourism Council, reflective of the sound protocol implemented by Sri Lanka Tourism. This includes the independent auditing firm KPMG inspecting the ‘Safe and Secure Certification’ that provides global travellers with the comfort and confidence that Sri Lanka has taken all necessary steps to ensure safety.

The audits are conducted free of charge for first-time certification where the costs are being borne by SLTDA. Auditing and certification are stringent as they should be to ensure high health and safety standards, in line with other countries in the region. Considering the nature of the virus as compromises can be dangerous.

Certification includes a QR code that will permit guests to provide feedback on the health & safety protocols followed by their hotel & service provider, which will enable continuous assessment, besides inspection by the PHIs and regional health officers.

Awareness and training

Several training sessions were conducted on Pandemic Preparedness for SMEs, designed and rolled out together with S4IG Australia and Asian Development Bank. COVID-19 guideline training was conducted partnering with Market Development Facility (MDF) of Australia and the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL). 

To all the stakeholder associations, Sri Lanka Tourism kindly suggests you arrange similar training programmes for your members and we will support by providing trainers who are familiar with the guideline.

Airport opening protocol

A detailed Airport Opening Protocol has been developed in the last several months and presented to the Minister of Health. Another Committee has been appointed to again review the protocol, which we are made to understand will further delay the airport opening.

“This is a global health pandemic and we are guided by the health officials. Diluting the health protocols would compromise the safety of international travellers and citizens when the airport reopens. Unless the Ministry of Health gives us the approval to relax the health and safety protocols, we are unable to do so.

‘Meanwhile, we will continue to support our stakeholders to ensure the safety of all and reach out to support you to thrive in the new normal that we face at this time” Sri Lanka Tourism chairperson Kimarli Fernando shared.

‘Safe & Secure’ certification

This guideline is available on the SLTDA official website and can be accessed through  https://sltda.gov.lk/storage/documents/SLTourism-OperationalGuidelines.pdf.  

The guideline provides direction to all tourism service providers on how to carry out their operations in a responsible manner adhering to the health protocols. While every tourism service provider is expected to familiarize with the overall guideline contents, chapter 4 is specifically dedicated to the accommodation service sector and chapters 3 & 6 provide guidance to travel agents, tour operators and tour crews. Chapter 5 is for other tourist facilities and services including stand-alone restaurants, cafes, theatres, supermarkets, shopping malls etc., while chapter 7 is for attraction sites and activity places.

Any SLTDA registered tourism service provider from accommodations, travel agents, tour operators, tours crews (tour guides and chauffeurs) or other services can apply for ‘Safe & Secure’ certification, if they are ready to be audited by the KPMG. The cost of the first audit as mentioned earlier will be borne by SLTDA and to apply for certification, SLTDA registration with license renewal is a mandatory requirement. 

The application is available online and can be accessed through https://sltda.gov.lk/safe-certification. Based on the applied date, the audit schedules will be prepared by SLTDA and forwarded to KPMG for implementation.

For the accommodation sector, travel agents/tour operators and stand-alone facilities, the assessments will include completing of KPMG’s initial checklist/questionnaire by the relevant service provider, which will be followed by the physical on-site audit at a pre-arranged date.

Assessment of the tour crews including tour guides and chauffeurs are based on an examination conducted by KPMG to check the level of overall knowledge and awareness on the guideline contents with special attention to details in chapters 3 & 6 of the guideline.

(SLTDA)



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HNB partners Hayleys Agri for offers on Kubota, Agrotech, Farmtrac agriculture machinery

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(from left) Hayleys Agriculture Sales Manager Sunil Gamini, Hayleys Agriculture General Manager Sumith Herath, Hayleys Agriculture Director Lushan Abesekara, Hayleys Agriculture Director Amjad Rajap and Hayleys Agriculture Managing Director Jayanthi Dharmasena with HNB Deputy General Manager- Retail and SME Banking Sanjay Wijemanne, HNB Head of Micro Finance Vinodh Fernando, HNB Head of Personal Financial Services Kanchana Karunagama, HNB Head of Leasing Niluka Amarasinghe, HNB Assistant Manager- Leasing Roshan de Silva and HNB Business Development Executive- HNB Leasing Mahesh Ratnayake.
 
HNB PLC, renewed its partnership with leading agricultural machinery and equipment supplier Hayleys Agriculture, to offer customers convenient leasing solutions and attractive benefits for Kubota, Agrotech and Farmtrac range of machinery.
 
 The partnership which offers HNB customers special rates on tractors, transplanters and harvesters was inked at a ceremony held at Hayleys Head Office. HNB Deputy General Manager- Retail and SME Banking Sanjay Wijemanne and Hayleys Agriculture Managing Director Jayanthi Dharmasena graced the ceremony as guests of honor.
 
 “Last year was especially challenging for us all. However, we have continued to work tirelessly to provide our customers with the best possible deals available in the market. As such, we hope that entrepreneurs in the agricultural industry will make use of this offer to strengthen and expand their businesses,” HNB Head of Personal Financial Services Kanchana Karunagama said.

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Virtusa sponsors first virtual IEEE Sri Lanka robotics workshop

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The Arduino compatible ZUMO 32U4 robot interfaced using ROS during the workshop

Virtusa Corporation (NASDAQ GS: VRTU), a global provider of digital strategy, digital engineering, and IT services and solutions that help clients change and disrupt markets through innovation engineering, sponsored the first in a series of ‘Workshop’ branded events organized by IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) Sri Lanka Section Chapter in partnership with IEEE Sri Lanka Section.
 
 Anchored to an alliance that goes back a number of years, Virtusa and the IEEE RAS Sri Lanka Section Chapter moved away from the traditional ‘Meetup’ to host a full day virtual workshop, offering a unique opportunity for participants to engage with robotics and automation experts on a virtual platform. An introduction to Robot Operating System (ROS) – the workshop explored the fundamentals of ROS including robot theory, perception, navigation and manipulation, followed by hands-on sessions on ROS basics, as well as moving and manipulating robots online.
 
 “Moving away from the physical auditorium set-up to a virtual platform, we were extremely thrilled with the participation we saw during the full-day workshop,” commented Dr. Peshala Jayasekara, Senior Lecturer – Department of Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering, University of Moratuwa, lead presenter at the workshop. “Over 120 students, undergraduates, postgraduates, academia and industry stakeholders enthusiastically engaged and invested their day to successfully complete the workshop with an IEEE Technical Sponsorship, one of the highest recognitions in the world.”
 
The significance of robotics and automation largely depends on the broader collaboration between researchers and end-users of various domains – market potential that Virtusa continues to explore. Servicing multiple industries with intelligent engineering automation among a growing solutions portfolio, Virtusa promotes robotics research and application to generate greater impact by developing solutions to end-user driven challenges.
 
 “Robotics, particularly intelligent automation is rapidly changing the new norm of the IT industry,” Misnad Haque, Director – Technology at Virtusa elaborated. “From automated IT quality assurance to autonomous spaceflight, the opportunities to develop and nurture these bots are limitless. Events like this bring together like-minded humans – and perhaps robots too in the future –facilitating innovation through knowledge-sharing as well as experiential platforms that organizations like Virtusa can provide.”
 
 “Our aim is to host an IEEE Sri Lanka Robotics Workshop each year among other events, so that we can work together with expert resource personnel who are on par with global robotics trends and insights,” stated Prof. Chandima Pathirana, chairman of IEEE RAS Sri Lanka Chapter. “With Virtusa’s continued sponsorship and support, we are proud to say that this session delivered on the promised level of exposure and knowledge on robotics, and we look forward to inspiring the growing group of robotics enthusiasts in Sri Lanka.”
 

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Hyundai hands over ‘The Suites’ and ‘The Offices’ at Cinnamon Life to John Keells Properties

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Cinnamon Life Engineering Manager Yasindu Wijayawickrama, JKP COO Inoke Perera, HKN Senior Project Manager J.C. Wook, JKP Head of Sales Nadeem Shums, JKP CFO Ravi Wijewantha, JKP CMO Roshanie Jayasundera-Moraes, JKH Leisure Group President Suresh Rajendra, JKH chairman Krishan Balendra, HKN Project Director T.H Kim, JKH Property Group Sector Head Nayana Mawilmada, JKH Property Group Head of Asset Management Theekshana Jayarathna, HKN Senior Project Manager J.H Kim, HKN Resident Director Seo Seong-Soo
 
 
Cinnamon Life, John Keells Properties’ iconic mixed-development project, is ever closer to redefining Colombo’s skyline with the completion of its plush residential tower ‘The Suites’ at Cinnamon Life and the state-of-the-art office tower, ‘The Offices’ at Cinnamon Life.
 
 With its construction now complete, the 196-unit apartment building and the 30 storey office tower were ceremonially handed over to John Keells Holdings (JKH) chairman Krishan Balendra by T.H. Kim – Project Director of the contractor HKN (a joint venture between Hyundai, Keangnam and Nawaloka).
 
 Speaking at the event, Balendra said the completion of ‘The Suites’ and ‘The Offices’ at Cinnamon Life heralds a new beginning for the city of Colombo.
 
 Noting that the apartment buildings and the offices are a key feature in its mammoth integrated development project, the JKH chairman said, once completed, Cinnamon Life will rival anything that the South Asian region has to offer.
 
 “John Keells Holdings first conceptualized Cinnamon Life in 2010. Operating Cinnamon Grand and Cinnamon Lakeside, two large five star hotels, we knew that Colombo didn’t have the facilities to host large regional events. Cinnamon Life with its 800 roomed hotel, multiple banqueting and conferencing spaces and retail space is now positioned to host some of the biggest events in the region, particularly in South Asia,” he said.
 
 “It’s the largest private investment in Sri Lanka to date, and with its completion in the next year, we expect that Cinnamon Life will position Colombo as the leisure, entertainment and retail epicentre of the South Asian region,” he added.
 
 Balendra further added “These are challenging times, not just for us but for the world as a whole. With the right attitude, however, no challenge is insurmountable and as we, together with HKN, have ably demonstrated with the completion of these two towers.”

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