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.
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.
Bull run on CSE acquires further momentum
“Market’s gone crazy, when will the bubble burst?”, asks broker
The mind-boggling on the Colombo Stock Exchange which on Friday drove the benchmark All Share Price Index up by 291.34 points – “perhaps the biggest ever single day gain,” a broker said, has left brokers, market players and investors stunned.
“The market’s gone crazy,” a leading broker said requesting anonymity. “It’s an ever-growing bubble and nobody can say when it will burst. It is difficult to sustain this kind of momentum without foreign and institutional buying.”
Mr. Niroshan Wijesundera, the head of marketing at the CSE, said that Friday’s peak of the ASPI had fallen a little short of the highest ever 7,811 achieved on Feb. 14, 2011.
But brokers speaking from memory reckoned that the Rs. 12.46 billion turnover was among the highest ever achieved without special transactions like takeovers etc. done on the trading floor.
While some analysts said that the bull run was without any scientific basis, Wijesundera said it was largely retail driven.
“The very low prevailing interest rates would have influenced fund movement to the stock market,” he said. “Also, global markets are moving up.”
Brokers said that that Friday’s upward momentum was fueled largely by the LOLC and Hayleys groups with LOLC Holdings which has been moving up for the past several days seeing its share price up Rs. 45.25 from the previous close with over 5.64 million shares traded traded. The counter generated a turnover of Rs. 1.17 billion.
LOLC is controlled by its deputy chairman, Ishara Nanayakkara and related parties, while Hayleys is controlled by Dhammika Perera. Although LOLC has paid no dividends since 2012, shareholders have been compensated with capital appreciation of its shares. The group was involved in a mega international deal last year, selling its 70% stake in Cambodia’s leading micro-finance company for Rs. 120 billion.
Haycarb, the activated carbon manufacturing subsidiary of Hayleys, saw its share gaining 72.75 to close at Rs. 757.75 on 218,609 shares traded between Rs. 685 and Rs. 737 through 479 transactions. Hayleys itself was up Rs. 21 to Rs. 491.25 and Dipped Products up Rs. 19.75 to close at Rs. 401.25 on 1.83 million shares transacted 1,157 trades.
Stafford Motors starts their two-wheeler recon. operations
Covid-19 outbreak has majorly affected the transportation sector in the country as people are more reluctant to use public transportation modes. As to provide a safer day today transportation to their devoted customers, the Stafford Motor Company (Pvt.) Ltd has taken a step forward to deliver Honda two-wheelers engraved with trust and confidence.
The company has taken the initiative to offer Stafford certified reconditioned two wheelers to their valued customers in order to continue their services even during the ongoing import restrictions. The company is purchasing used two-wheelers and then a series of inspections with a condition check is conducted before they taken it into their re-conditioned two wheeler operations. Mainly, the Mechanical faults are addressed by experienced and skilled technical experts and the required parts are replaced with Honda genuine spares which enhances the functionality and reliability of the unit. The main aim of the company is to offer a Honda two-wheeler under the renowned name of Stafford Motors with certified Quality and deliver their two-wheelers for a reasonable price to its loyal customers while purchasing can be done by cash or lease. A warranty period of three months or 3000 km is provided with these reconditioned Two- wheelers certified by the company. Stafford Motor Company (Pvt.) Ltd is ready to provide a trade-in offer for their loyal customers which will allow them to exchange their current Honda two-wheeler and upgrade it to a Stafford Certified brand new looking two wheeler.
Stafford Motor Company (Pvt.) Ltd. being the sole distributor of world renowned Honda products in Sri Lanka is the best place to purchase a re-conditioned two-wheeler as it is always at the forefront of the two-wheeler market by understanding the needs of the customers while offering the best products with the highest quality for past 40 years.
LOLC General Insurance looking at expanding into potential international markets
With LOLC expanding into many markets in Asia and Africa, LOLC General Insurance is also optimistic of expanding insurance services and products to several selected and potential international markets in the near future, says Kithsiri Gunawardena, CEO of LOLC General Insurance,.
“LOLC Group has a very strong and highly respected brand presence in all the markets we operate. In some of these markets, the Insurance industry is in the early stages of development. Thus, the regulators are keen on the introduction of micro insurance products to support small and medium scale businesses for systemic stability”, he said.
LOLC General Insurance, a fully-owned subsidiary of the LOLC Group recently became Sri Lanka’s first General Insurance company to achieve Rs. 6 Billion Gross Written Premium (GWP) in less than 10 years.
The company reached the Rs. 6 Billion mark in December 2020, becoming the fastest General Insurance company to achieve this milestone in the industry.
“LOLC General Insurance is a young company compared to the rest in the industry. During the last few years, we continuously streamlined the processes and achieved greater coordination between different units of the company. The entire staff was motivated to work as one team and embark on a customer centric approach. A scheme was introduced whereby a pre-designated percentage of the company profits are shared with our staff thereby elevating them to become true stakeholders of our business”, Gunawardena noted.
“We also critically analyzed our expenses and introduced mechanisms to achieve greater efficiency and productivity. The combination of these measures and our aggressive sales model supported by the commitment of our team resulted in the company being able to secure a substantial volume of new business outside of the group reflecting that we are well aligned to the needs of the market”, the CEO said.
With a service first mind-set and the strong backing of the LOLC Group, LOLC General Insurance became the fastest growing Insurer in the industry with the highest growth in Motor as well as Non-Motor portfolios. This achievement was also made possible by the trust and confidence placed in the company by customers throughout the country as well as the indispensable contribution made by our staff, he outlined.
The aggressive approach in sales, flexibility in policy options and a customer centric product portfolio has enabled this growth over the years. The company hopes to maintain the same focus, approach and excellence in the years ahead to sustain this growth momentum, Gunawardena further said.
He said the year 2020 was probably the most challenging for most businesses in the country and the insurance industry recorded a negative growth. Interestingly, LOLC General Insurance managed to record its best performance during this year. Although external operating conditions remained challenging, the General Insurance business performed steadily, he added.
“Most disruptions create opportunities and we capitalised on becoming even more aggressive when most others opted to be cautious. By December 2020, we were able to reach the Rs. 6 Bn mark mainly because of the commitment of our team who were always geared and motivated to offer uninterrupted services to the customers even during the pandemic”, he continued.
The aggressive business model, highly motivated and loyal staff, passionate leadership, unstinted reputation within the market on service quality and last but not least the strong backing of the LOLC Group is what makes us stand apart, Gunawardena stressed.
The opportunities are immense in the market. With a saturated Motor market and the challenge of limited new registrations for the foreseeable future, the price and service will be key in this sphere. The Non-Motor market is noticeably under-penetrated and this gives LOLC General Insurance opportunities to grow with our unique products and services to customers, he said.
On future expansion plans, he noted that 2021 will see innovations in terms of customer engagement with respect to digital transformation as well as unique product ranges and service standards being introduced. By locating branches strategically, the company is enhancing customer convenience.
“Our focus on accomplishing full automation remains strong with the entire process automated end-to-end, from meeting the customer to the point of delivery while policy servicing is achieved via technology platforms. The country-wide reach will be enhanced with the formation of new regions/branches and close to 70 dedicated service points being established”, Gunawardena emphasized.
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