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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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Business

‘JAT posts stellar Q2 – doubles PBT and commences manufacturing in Bangladesh’

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JAT Holdings PLC has posted exceptional financial performance for Q2 of FY 2022/23. During the Quarter, the Group also achieved a major milestone, delivering on its key IPO promise, by inaugurating its own end-to-end state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Bangladesh. Simultaneously, JAT Holdings PLC also recorded its highest-ever revenue for Q2 in history, doubling its profit before tax, compared with the corresponding period in the year prior.

Accordingly, JAT Holdings PLC noted a YTD revenue growth of 40% during the period, concurrently managing to increase gross profit margins amidst the most challenging economic environment in its history, clearly demonstrating the Group’s strategic and fiscal prowess.

Gross Profit margins grew during the period under review amidst a deepening economic crisis, material scarcity in global markets and foreign exchange outflow restrictions. The Group’s strategy of purchasing raw materials in bulk and maintaining adequate stocks for at least 6 months at all times, allowed the enterprise to benefit from economies of scale, while JAT Holdings’ prudent and effective waste management efforts helped to improve productivity and efficiency. As a result, operating profit also recorded a healthy growth of 111% during the period under review, supported by cost management efforts, which helped manage input cost inflation and foreign exchange volatility. Profit Before Tax (PBT) and Profit After Tax (PAT) also sustained their recovery momentum, while showing sharp rises in the quarter under review, contrasted with the corresponding period in the previous year.

Commenting on the business momentum, CEO Nishal Ferdinando said, “Supported by our new manufacturing facility in Bangladesh and expert manoeuvring in the Sri Lankan market amidst the toughest business environment we have endured to date, we are pleased to present rock solid financial performance to our investors, and exceptional value to all other stakeholders. Leveraging our excellent relationships with suppliers, we have secured raw materials and shored up our stocks to be able to meet upcoming seasonal demand. The capital raised at the IPO has enabled us to keep borrowing costs to a minimum amidst a tighter monetary environment, which has delivered a positive boost to our bottom line. We intend to move forward with the present momentum and continue to deliver exceptional performance during the remainder of FY 2022/23.”

The Group’s WHITE by JAT range of brilliant white paints grew rapidly, driven by a unique hybrid marketing strategy. Commencement of manufacturing in Bangladesh, coupled with the opening of JAT Holdings PLC’s R&D Centre, another fulfilment of an IPO pledge, helped to drive business momentum during the quarter

Discussing the Group’s strategy and future plans, Founder and Managing Director Aelian Gunawardene added, “Just over a year on from our IPO, I’m pleased to communicate to investors that we have fulfilled the pledges made in our prospectus. We have completed and commissioned our ultramodern end-to-end manufacturing and warehousing facility in Bangladesh, located strategically in close proximity to seaports and our key markets in that country, Dhaka and Chittagong. Our Research and Development Centre is now operational, staffed by teams of experts who will help us to engineer better, cleaner and more efficient products in the future. I am also very pleased to state that the Group as a whole has come together to look after our people amidst the present crises, providing relief allowances and other benefits to help cushion the blow. We are excited about the future and look forward to growing and defending our position as Sri Lanka’s market leader for wood coatings and an emerging giant in the region.”

Since its founding in 1993, JAT Holdings has established itself as a market leader in Sri Lanka for wood coatings and as one of the country’s most promising conglomerates. This is further attested to by accolades such as being ranked amongst Sri Lanka’s ‘Top 100 Most Respected Companies’ by LMD for four years consecutively and also ranking among the ‘Top 20 Conglomerate Brands’ by Brand Finance.

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Bourse driven along positive trajectory by Expolanka and Lanka IOC

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

CSE trading activities were positive yesterday at the beginning and mid- day shares edged up driven by Expolanka and Lanka IOC, market analysts said.

After margin calls selling pressure reduced in the market and the neutralization of macro- economic conditions created positive sentiment for the stock market, analysts said.

Analysts said that the market was driven by Expolanka and Lanka IOC on positive sentiment. Last Friday, Expolanka pushed -up the market following the announcement of its expansion plans. The market generated a turnover of Rs 1.1 billion in its first hour of trade, compared to a daily average of Rs 1.2 billion. The Expolanka share price appreciated by Rs 19 or 12 per cent. Its share price shot up to Rs 182.25 from Rs 163.25 at the end of trading.

Amid these developments both indices moved upwards. The All- Share Price Index (ASPI) gained by 161 points, while Sri Lanka’s most liquid index grew by 101 points. Turnover stood at Rs 2.45 billion with two crossings. Those crossings were reported in Lankem Development, which crossed 1.4 million shares to the tune of Rs 41 million, its shares traded at Rs 29.30 and Lanka IOC 120,000 shares crossed for Rs 22.2 million and its shares traded at Rs 185.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were Expolanka Holdings Rs 1.12 billion (6.3 million shares traded), Lanka-IOC Rs 336 million (1.7 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 193 million (33 million shares traded), ACL Cables Rs 86.2 million (1.1 million shares traded), First Capital Holdings Rs 67.5 million (3.4 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 61.1 million (168,000 shares traded) and Lankem Development Rs 32 million (1.1 million shares traded). During the day 77.1 million share volumes changed hands in 20000 transactions.

The country’s manufacturing and services sectors contracted in October as per the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) compiled by the Central Bank.

The Manufacturing PMI saw a decline of 4.2 index points in comparison to September driven by decreases recorded in all the sub-indices. The Services PMI gained by 3.3 index points due to the declines observed in new businesses, employment and backlog of work.

Nevertheless, business activities and expectations for activity continued their increasing momentum during the month.

Yesterday the Central Bank- announced US dollar buying rate was Rs 360.29 and the selling rate Rs 371.29.

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Hapag Lloyd Lanka and Aitken Spence Travels boost tourism through luxury cruise ‘Mein Schiff 5’

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Boosting the revival of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka, Hapag Lloyd Lanka ushers in super luxury cruise ‘Mein Schiff 5’ on the 29th of November at the Port of Colombo and the cruise will be calling the Port of Hambantota on the 30th of November 2022. More than 2,000 passengers (mostly European) and 900 crew members are onboard of this cruise. Hapag Lloyd Lanka a subsidiary of the Aitken Spence Group are the agents for TUI cruises. Mein Schiff 5 is owned by the German operator TUI cruises.

As this is the maiden call of Mein Schiff 5 to Port of Colombo & Hambanthota, there will be a ceremonious event to exchange the plaques between the Captain with crew and the port officials and the same to follow at the Port of Hambantota.

Aitken Spence Travels is the shore excursion partner for Mein Schiff 5 in Sri Lanka. They will offer excursions for majority of the passengers covering locations and tours such as Colombo City tours, walking tours, panoramic Colombo tours, tuk-tuk tours, Muthurajawela boat safari tours, temple tours to Kelaniya, agro village, tea plantations, Sigiriya by air taxi, Galle day tours, beach breaks, Madu ganga river safaris and cultural shows. The excursions are designed to create memories in Sri Lanka through experiences with culture, cuisine, architecture, heritage and way of life.

It is encouraging to see efforts materialise with the active involvement of the Aitken Spence Group in the maritime sector and tourism sector to offer comprehensive synergised services whilst bringing the much-needed foreign exchange into the country.

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