Jetwing-MMBL spearhead northern revival with Rs. 1 b hotel
Sunday 3 April was a landmark for the historic city of Jaffna, as well as for Sri Lanka tourism. In the wake of cool breeze blowing across the nearby Jaffna Lagoon, President Maithripala Sirisena declared open Jetwing Jaffna, a 55-room star class hotel that has changed the skyline of Jaffna.
Following the grand opening, President Sirisena said that he was happy to take part in the ceremonial occasion, as the hotel project demonstrated the investor confidence on the Northern Province in general and Jaffna Peninsula in particular, as well as resilience of the people in the peninsula.
He was accompanied by Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Affairs John Amaratunga, Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha, State Minister of Finance Lakshman Yapa Abeywardhana and MMBL-Pathfinder Group of Companies Founder Milinda Moragoda. Among others who graced the occasion were Governor of the Northern Province Reginald Cooray, MP Wijayakala Maheswaran and Jaffna Divisional Secretary K. Ganesh.
The state-of-the-art Jetwing Jaffna with its 55 standard and family rooms will be a welcome addition to Jaffna, which is displaying its vibrancy and taking commendable strides to regain it's former glory as the capital of Tamil culture. The hotel, consisting of eight floors and a basement, boasts of an air-conditioned restaurant on its second level that could accommodate over 100 guests and a rooftop sky lounge from where guests could have a bird’s eye view of the fast developing city, from the Kilali Lagoon in the east to the islands in the west and host of other buildings of religious and cultural significance.
Jetwing Jaffna stands tall in the heart of the city on the Clock Tower Road and will provide comfortable and modern accommodation facilities to visitors to the northern peninsula. In addition to accommodation for visitors, the hotel is also designed to provide banquet and meeting facilities to satisfy the needs of the local population as well as visitors to Jaffna.
Marshaling investment of over Rs. 1 billion for Jaffna is a commendable achievement by the Jetwing Hotels, MMBL-Pathfinder Group, Regency Teas and several others, who had placed their confidence in the project. Among the institutional investors is Leon Holdings, headed by a Sri Lankan expatriate hailing from Jaffna, who is a partner of a successful business venture in Europe. The project has also succeeded in providing employment for over 80 youths from Jaffna, who were provided with training in hospitality industry by Jetwing Hotels.
It has been a long and arduous journey for Yarl Hotels Ltd. to witness the successful culmination of the project. The land on which the hotel was constructed had been purchased in 1975 by late Deshamanya N.U. Jayawardena, the first Sri Lankan Governor of the Central Bank and entrepreneur, who realised the potential of Jaffna over 40 years ago. Jetwing Hotels and MMBL-Pathfinder Group took the policy decision to go ahead with the project in July 2010 and former Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne laid the foundation stone for the hotel in February 2012. It took four years for the project to come to fruition, overcoming numerous obstacles.
Speaking at the event Amaratunga said that there were others interested in investing in Jaffna and that the Ministry of Tourism Development was planning to open a hotel school in the peninsula. Jetwing Hotels Chairman Hiran Cooray and Governor Reginald Cooray invited the Tamil Diaspora to return to Sri Lanka and make use of the investment opportunities in the Northern Province. The Jetwing Hotels Chairman highlighted that it was a long and a difficult journey to realise the dream of having a Jetwing operated hotel in Jaffna.
“Despite initial difficulties we faced, I was convinced that Jaffna was ready for a modern hotel and youth in the peninsula would be eager to choose hospitality industry as a career option,” said Cooray.
Ireland is a country with a population of just under six million and a tremendous appetite for travel. According to economic experts, the country is coming out of recession and now with the recent arrival of large American conglomerates to the country due to tax incentives, unemployment is down and people have disposable income to spend on holidays.
The Holiday World Show, now in its 25th year, provided a cost-effective opportunity to connect with travel and trade consumers to promote Sri Lanka’s travel and tourism products across Ireland.
Since attending the event in January 2015, Sri Lanka Tourism recorded a 15.6% growth in the Irish market with 5,970 visitors coming to the country in 2015.
This year Sri Lanka Tourism’s representative in London attended the Holiday World Show for consumers and trade in Dublin, Ireland for the third consecutive time to showcase its tourist attractions.Attending the Dublin Consumer Fair enabled Sri Lanka Tourism to reach more than 41,000 potential Irish consumers to create awareness about the destination. The exhibition was attended by almost 775 travel and tourism professionals, representing more than 103 different countries.
This year’s Holiday Show attracted 41,900 visitors and 541 exhibitors.
Eoghan Corry, an Irish journalist and author regarded as the most extensively journeyed travel writer in Ireland who visited Sri Lanka in 2015 under a special journalist program, in a two-page article in Travel Extra magazine, highlighted the cultural side of Sri Lanka through images of dancers walking across hot coals in Kandy, people on top of Sigiriya, a turtle sanctuary and an elephant bath at Pinnawala. A copy of the magazine was given to all those who came to the show.
During the four-day show, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board managed to have meetings with large numbers of trade partners and journalists. Meetings were held with journalists with the view of arranging individual trips or media familiarisation trips to gain the maximum publicity for the destination in the Irish market.
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Sri Lanka’s first Safari Park at Ridiyagama in Hambantota in the Southern Province opened Monday (28 March) for the local as well as foreign tourists. The 500-acre park provides an environment for the animals to roam freely within the park.
Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife Gamini Jayawickrema Perera accompanied by Housing and Construction Sajith Premadasa, Deputy Minister Sumedha Jayasena and Hambantota district parliamentarian Chamal Rajapaksa declared open the park for the public.
The construction work at the first Safari Park in the island started in 2008 under the direction of The National Zoological Department. The park, being built under two phases, covers an expanse of about 500 acres. It also contains a public entertainment zone extending to about 69 acres. Four of the park’s six zones will be reserved for carnivorous animals while the remaining two zones will be set apart for the herbivores. Two zones of the carnivore section will be exclusively reserved for the dangerous animals such as lions, tigers, and leopards. The first phase with the African Lion Zone, Sri Lanka Elephant Zone and World Zone was opened today. The Lions were released to the African Zone Saturday. The animals can move freely in the park.
African, Asian, Australian Zones and a small animal kingdom will be built under the second phase.
A special bus service will be available for the tourists to move around the park. The park consists of all facilities such as animal hospitals, internal road network and vehicle parks. Waste disposal methodologies have been introduced to protect the environment.
The Safari Park constructed at a cost of Rs. 1.6 billion is seen as an avenue to attract more tourists to the island and a boom to the tourism industry.
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FPearl Fishers Opera in Australia is famous amongst many tourists around the world. Pearl Fishers Opera is famous for the duet which has been performed by many world renowned opera singers such as Placido Domingo and Andrea Boccelli.
A promotional campaign arranged by Sri Lanka Tourism in collaboration with the Consulate General for Sri Lanka in Sydney was successfully completed at the Joan Sutherland Theatre of the Sydney Opera House on 12 March during the final performance of Pearl Fishers Opera which was played to a packed house of 1,500 patrons.
A thousand packs of Ceylon Tea gifted by Dilmah Tea together with the Sri Lanka Tourism brochures were handed out to the patrons by the staff of the Sydney Opera House. The Pearl Fishers teaser was shown on widescreen TVs in the lobbies of the Opera House which too was a great promotion for Sri Lanka as a destination as the back drop of this opera was of Ceylon and the cast wore colourful saris and costumes of ancient Ceylon.
The Sydney Opera House staff and that of the Consulate General for Sri Lanka in Sydney carried out the promotion with precision. The logistics involved were arduous and the stringent requirements of the Opera House management were met very satisfactorily. The Pearl Fishers Opera will be performed in Melbourne in May.
Australia is a key market for tourism and in the 12 months to Dec 2015 tourist arrivals were at 57,940 which was 7% increase year-on-year.
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For those who want to explore the beauty of Sri Lanka, Google Maps now offer a virtual tour along the main roads of the island from North to South and East to West.
In a blog post titled “Ayubowan Sri Lanka!”, Nishant Nair, Program Manager, Google’s APAC Street View Operations, says to capture the island’s imagery, the Google team drove close to 50,000 kilometers across every state and province so that the viewer can virtually explore this beautiful landscape from coast to coast.
Nair writes that Sri Lanka has become an increasingly popular travel destination, especially for those who want to explore the country’s rich history and natural beauty and now even more people around the world will be able to discover some of the jewels that this fine island has to offer with Google’s Street View.
The virtual tour is also available on the iOS and Android systems.
When the explorer Marco Polo visited Sri Lanka in 1265, he described it as “the finest island of its size in all the world.” Tourists from around the world agree, as it’s become an increasingly popular travel destination, especially for those who want to explore the country’s rich history and natural beauty. Now even more people around the world will be able to discover some of the jewels that this fine island has to offer — minus the treacherous sea voyage — with Street View. From the hustle and bustle of downtown Colombo, to the cool tea plantation hills, and onwards to the sandy white beaches, Sri Lanka is as beautiful as it is diverse. To capture this imagery, we drove close to 50,000 kilometers across every state and province so that you can virtually explore this beautiful landscape from coast to coast.
Start your tour — perhaps with a cup of Ceylon tea in hand — on the winding Beragala-Hali Ela Highway. Home to many of the world’s best brews, you’ll be able to see people growing, picking and packing tea among the lush rolling hills along the way. For even more majestic jungle and some mountain views, take a tour along the country’s first modern highway — the Colombo-Kandy road. Starting in Sri Lanka’s biggest city, you will journey through some spectacular scenery as you head inland to Kandy where you can see the relic of the tooth of Buddha. You can then take virtual leap across the island to the Kandy-Jaffna highway, which heads out to the coast and down to the Elephant Pass Causeway. While you may not see any elephants, this stretch of road connecting North and South Sri Lanka gives you a 360 degree view of the Indian Ocean on either side of the road.
While you’re on the coast why not check out Arugum Bay? This popular surfing spot in the country’s southeast is renowned for its amazing point break. If you prefer spending time on the sand rather than on a board, the sleepy little fishing village of Point Pedro on the northern tip of the island has some pristine beaches to explore.
Once you’ve taken in Sri Lanka’s natural beauty, you might be ready to take in some culture. Head north to Anuradhapura, and catch a glimpse of the ancient Ruwanwelisaya Stupa. Believed to have been visited by the Buddha himself, it was built in 140 B.C. and today remains one of the world’s tallest monuments, standing at over 100 meters.
Why not complete your tour by heading back to Colombo where you can see Old Parliament House. Built during the British colonial era, it is home to the first democratic parliament, and the Independence Memorial Hall which commemorates Sri Lanka’s independence from British rule 1948. We hope that visiting Sri Lanka with Google Maps (available on iOS and Android) will inspire a deeper appreciation for the beauty and history of this beautiful country. Whether you continue your journey in Google Maps or are inspired to visit in person, we invite you to enjoy the Land of Lions.
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