Negombo to be declared a tourism resort

By Quintus Perera
The Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB) has agreed to officially declare Negombo tourism areas as a tourism zone when a delegation of Negombo Hoteliers Association (NHA) met the Minister of Tourism and the SLTB Chairman last week, NHA President Expedit Croos said.

The delegation made representations on a range of issues affecting them. Among them were identifying Negombo tourist sector as a tourist resort, obtaining a-state-of- the-art beach cleaning vehicles and equipment, life saving unit for Negombo and improvements on Muthurajawela and the Hamilton Canal Rehabilitation Project. While there was agreement to identify Negombo as a tourist zone by SLTB, a beach cleaning tractor that would cost Rs 9 million would be provided on September 27, when Negombo celebrate a part of the World Tourism Day. Out of Rs 9 million, rupees six million would be provided by the Negombo Municipal Council and the balance Rs.3 million would be borne by the Ministry of Tourism.

There was also consensus that the major stakeholders, like the Negombo Hoteliers Association would be involved in the Hamilton Canal Rehabilitation Project which will run into several millions of rupees.
Croos said that their meeting with the Minister and the SLTB Chairman could be termed as very cordial and highly successful and although there is a jolt in the travel industry due to various incidents that are taking place. He said that the Negombo travel sector was completely equipped to take in the usual tourist influx.

Croos said that their association represents 18 major tourist hotels in Negombo and all of them were well equipped and prepared to take in the full force of tourists. He also said that their association was glad that the infrastructure for tourism in Negombo is almost complete and the shortfalls here and there could be settled as they maintain a very good rapport with the relevant authorities.


Air India Express comes to Colombo

Air India Express commenced its daily operations from Chennai to Colombo from March.
Air India Express a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India, has a fleet of state-of-the-art Boeing 737-800 aircraft which is one of the most technologically advanced single-aisle jet aircraft.
The airline was formed primarily to cater to the price sensitive market which required point to point service at lower fares. The low cost model on which Air India Express functions, offers all economy class seats. Fares are priced at approximately 25 per cent lower than the legacy airlines. Pricing is dynamic and discounts vary from 50 to 15 per cent of full service airline fares.

Higher discounts are given to those who book in advance. Unlike other low cost carriers, Air India Express serves passengers snacks and a soft drink in pre-packed boxes. While tea/coffee and drinking water are served complimentary, alcoholic drinks are provided at a nominal price.

Besides lower fares, an important feature of Air India Express is the internet based reservations system. This system is very customer-friendly and passengers can make reservations from home, offices or through appointed travel agents. Passengers have access to fares and availability of seats, which makes it an extremely transparent system.
A very innovative feature of Air India Express aircraft is the attractive tail designs on either side of the aircraft. These tail designs depict different facets of traditional and contemporary India which represent the heritage values and ethos of the country. Various themes have been used on the seven aircraft inducted so far and the eighth aircraft, which is being inducted into the fleet today carries the design of two very important landmarks of our country viz. India Gate and Gateway of India.

Commencing operations on April 29, 2005 with three leased B737-800 aircraft, the Air India Express fleet today comprises of seven leased and one owned B737-800 aircraft. The fourth leased aircraft was inducted in March 2006 while the fifth, sixth and seventh leased aircraft joined the fleet during May-June 2006.


SriLankan starts twice weekly service to Jeddah

A SriLankan Airlines Airbus A340 touched down at the King Abdulaziz International Airport on March 27, marking the launch of the airline’s twice weekly service to Jeddah.
Coinciding with the launch, a fully fledged station office, located at the Kanoo Tower, Kilo 7 Madina Road will also open its doors to the public.
Earlier this month SriLankan Airlines signed a code share agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines, which allows both airlines to jointly market the flights.

SriLankan Airlines’ Head of Worldwide Passenger Sales, Manoj Gunawardena said, “This is a significant milestone for SriLankan, taking us a step closer to giving our passengers in Asia the best connections from their home country to the Middle East. We are confident that this new route will be a great success for both our airlines and a greater convenience for our passengers.”
The commercial hub of Saudi Arabia and the principal gateway to Makkah, the holiest city in Islam, is SriLankan Airlines’ third destination in Saudi Arabia after Dammam and Riyadh and the ninth in the Middle East. Other key destinations in the region include Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Doha, Muscat and Kuwait.
Jeddah is also the airlines’ 51st destination in a network spanning 28 countries.
The launch falls in line with the airline’s 2006 strategy, initiated to expand its services in the Middle East and increase its leisure travel focus, catering to Arab nationals, western expatriates and the returning Asian migrant work population.

SriLankan Airlines Regional Manager for Middle East, CIS and Africa, Mohamed Fazeel said, “We are always looking for new opportunities to enhance our operations to the Middle East. Adding new destinations and increasing frequencies to the region is a vital component of our strategy.
The airline’s Colombo hub is ideally positioned to connect Middle East travellers with seventeen destinations in South Asia and the Far East.

The airline has a strong presence in the Indian market as the foreign carrier with the most number of frequencies, operating 95 weekly flights into 10 destinations across India. The schedule includes double daily services to Madras and Mumbai and a daily service to other destinations in India.

SriLankan Airlines also operates a double daily service to the Maldives and regular services to the Far East including near double daily service to Malaysia and Singapore and over nine flights to Thailand.
Holiday makers can also opt to stop over at Colombo for shopping and a city expedition or venture inland and explore the island’s wildlife in the vast national parks for a glimpse of the elusive leopard or the majestic elephant. Sri Lanka is also home to some the world’s most exotic birdlife.
Sri Lanka also offers a rich cultural heritage that is worth discovering, including the 4th century rock fortress in Sigiriya or the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura.

The airlines’ leisure travel management arm, SriLankan Holiday offers travellers very attractive all inclusive holiday packages to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India and the Far East.
Holiday packages cover all costs and taxes and include air travel, star class hotel accommodation, tours, transfers and a host of other conveniences.
SriLankan Airlines is majority owned by the Government of Sri Lanka (51.05 %) with Dubai based Emirates holding a 43.6 percent stake and a ten year management contract.


Australia’s Qantas orders nine Airbus A320s

(AFP)- Australian airline Qantas said Thursday it was ordering nine Airbus A320 aircraft for its budget offshoot Jetstar.
Qantas Cief Executive Geoff Dixon said that Jetstar would use the aircraft, to be delivered from late this year, on domestic and short-haul international routes.

He said that Qantas would also boost the capacity of its full-service domestic operations by transferring it four Boeing 767-300 aircraft currently used for international flights.
“The increased capacity for both Jetstar and Qantas should help the airline retain its 65 percent share of the Australian domestic market,” he added.
He did not say how much the new aircraft would cost.


Luxury hotels sprout in Tokyo

AFP) - International luxury hotel chains are spreading in Tokyo on the back of public works projects, hoping to conquer a city renowned for expensive tastes but where top-notch hotels were surprisingly rare.
The latest and most pricey entrant, the Ritz-Carlton, opened on Friday on the top floors of Japan’s tallest skyscraper, which is part of the sprawling new Tokyo Midtown complex of offices, shops and condominiums.
The most basic room at Tokyo’s first Ritz-Carlton starts at 68,250 yen (580 dollars) a night.
Costs go up to 2.1 million yen (18,000 dollars) a night for a 300 square-meter suite, whose design marries European and Japanese aesthetics, with a view of Mount Fuji and the imperial palace.
In the summer, the Hong Kong-based Peninsula chain will open a new hotel facing Hibiya Park in the heart of the metropolis.

The Shangri-La also plans a hotel in Tokyo in 2009, adding to the ranks of the Grand Hyatt, Mandarin Oriental, Conrad, Westin and Four Seasons which have all entered the Japanese capital since 2000.
Experts say the proliferation of major international luxury names fills a vacuum in Tokyo -- a city well-known for high prices and expensive shopping but which international hotels have been slow to penetrate.
To be sure, Tokyo has established five-star hotels such as the Imperial, Okura and the New Otani, which have long been destinations of choice for visiting dignitaries and lavish wedding ceremonies. But the domestically owned hotels, which regularly made travel industry lists of the world’s top addresses from the 1950s to 1980s, are relatively inexpensive compared with global trends.

In a country which for the past decade has fought deflation, standard rooms at five-star hotels run at 250 to 300 dollars a night -- not the more than 500 dollars at international luxury chains.
Industry experts predict a strong demand in Tokyo for luxury hotels, with the clientele expected to include businesspeople, well-off domestic tourists and retirees and etc.


SriLankan to simplify air fares

SriLankan Airlines will incorporate the fuel surcharge into the air fare, effective 1 April 2007.
The airline will implement this change to most destinations with a few exceptions, due to regulatory issues. This will enable clarity and simplicity of air fares when quoted to passengers. Government and airport taxes will continue to be collected separately.

Head of Worldwide Passenger Sales Manoj Gunawardena said: “This step is aimed at having a transparent fares structure in place for our customers inclusive of fuel surcharge instead of the present practice of quoting it separately.”
This move is also in line with the recommendation of IATA, the industry governing body.


Emirates frequent flyers win 250,000 Skywards Miles

Three frequent flyers on Emirates have won 250,000 Skywards Miles from the airline’s Frequent Flyer Programme by participating in an on-line booking promotion.
Kithsiri Jayawardena, a senior corporate executive was the first prize winner in the first monthly draw of the promotion, and received 100,000 Skywards Miles from Emirates. Christofer Temt, an Austrian expatriate with an NGO and businessman Chulasena Jinadasa, each won 75,000 Skywards Miles at the same draw.

All passengers who booked travel on Emirates on-line in the three months of the promotion were entitled to participate in a draw at the end of each month. A total of 750,000 Skywards Miles were on offer.
“This promotion resulted in greater awareness and interest in on-line booking of travel out of Colombo which increased significantly in the first three months of 2007,” Emirates Sales Manager Sri Lanka Devika Ellepola said.
The Skywards Miles won can be redeemed for free air tickets or many other benefits offered by Skywards, including upgrades, hotel accommodation, excursions, exclusive shopping, and fine dining.

Sri Lanka enjoys the distinction of being one of the top 10 countries in terms of Skywards’ memberships. Worldwide membership of the award-winning loyalty programme of Emirates and SriLankan, which is available in over 200 countries, has topped two million.
One of the world’s fastest growing international airlines, Emirates operates 17 services a week from Colombo to Dubai and four services a week from Colombo to Singapore and Jakarta.








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