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Lanka to set record straight at WTM in UK



Elephant rides into the interior

Sri Lanka will pitch the highest importance to The World Travel Mart (WTM) scheduled from November 6 to 9, in London, to counter the notion of some Britishers, that the affect of the tsunami of 2004, yet lingers.

Among others, there is doubt whether the violence in the North East of the island lies close to their holiday locale. To the second group, the answer is that the island's cultural triangle and places of radiance and resplendence lie outside the theatre of violence. Moreover, WTM is the largest travel fair in UK and the second largest in the world.

The United Kingdom has been the second largest market for Sri Lanka tourism with arrivals of 92,929 in 2005, next to India, whose arrivals counted 113,023, that year. In terms of room nights, UK has dominated all others, chairman Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB) Udaya Nanayakkara said. Moreover, 60 percent of business remains in the hands of tour operators.

WTM 2005 was attended by 48,211 travel industry professionals representing 202 countries and regions, while independent research had shown that over GBP 24 million of businesse was generated, SLTB director-marketing M. B. Kiriella told the media.

News coming from London says that tourism ministers from more than 100 countries are expected to gather at next month's WTM. On the agenda is a ministers' reception onboard the Silver Sturgeon moored outside ExCel in London's Docklands.

`In 2007 we want more of a specific focus on developing a ministers' summit in conjunction with the World Tourism Organisation and ask them what they want to debate.' WTM is popular with the local travel trade, with 57 taking part in 2004 which dropped to 45 in 2005, due to the tsunami.

Tour operators have committed to sell Sri Lanka in their brochures and websites, making up 60 companies - 500 pages on Sri Lanka in the market place for 2006. It is the travel agents who will sell one country over the other, Nanayakkara said.

"We believe in promoting the destination in every possible way, not as a travel mart," Nanayakkara said.

This year, at WTM, Sri Lanka will portray the Makara Thorana or the gateway to the Temple of the Tooth Relic or Dalada Maligawa in Kandy.

In 2004, the stairway in Yapahuwa in Kurunegala which lead to the Temple of the Tooth Relic in the 13th Century AD was depicted, besides, other historic features, earlier, in London, Frankfurt and Paris. Our dance troupes have also played a large part around the world, promoting Sri Lanka as a tourist destination, SLTB additional director general, Dileep Mudadeniya said.

The dance troupes flown to London will perform for the visitors who gather around the Sri Lanka pavilion, while the main stage attracts journalists, travel agents and creates a general buzz at WTM. The Channa-Upuli dancers will also perform. The theme this year is "Beyond the beaches" and is expected to attract over 3,000 photographers.

Sri Lanka began seven weekly advertisements in the Travel Weekly, a leading travel paper, highlighting the "Wonders of Sri Lanka" and inviting travel agents to its stands, SLTB additional director- marketing, Ms Madubani Perera said.

Sri Lanka has also participated in ANTOR meets the Media with 30 other tourist boards and is expected to receive GBP 3,000 free media publicity in the run up to WTM, and other articles are expected to educate over 20,000 travel agents, some of whom will not make it to WTM, Perera said.

Sri Lankans living in UK will receive a special supplement intended to be shown to their friends, to promote the island as a tourist destination. Sri Lanka Tourism has planned a large supplement on Sri Lanka, sold in many countries. Sri Lanka will tie up with the Independent Newspapers, with a distribution of 300,000, Nanayakkara said.

A six- page facet on Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Tourism will only sponsor part of the cost. The Independent will raise the balance funds through the industry in the UK.


India allows more flights for SriLankan Airlines

Bilateral Air Services negotiations between India and Sri Lanka were held recently. The Indian delegation was led by Ajay Prasad, Secretary, Civil Aviation, Government of India and the Sri Lankan delegation was led by Tilak Collure, Secretary, Ministry of Ports and Aviation.

The negotiations reinforced the special position Sri Lanka enjoys in the aviation sector in India. SriLankan Airlines is already the largest foreign airline operating into India with 86 weekly flights.

SriLankan Airlines operates daily flights to six Indian metropolitan cities and unlimited frequencies to 18 tourist destinations in India. The three Indian carriers - Indian, Jet and Sahara - operate 21 weekly flights to Sri Lanka.

During the negotiations, the Indian side allowed SriLankan Airlines seven additional weekly flights to Mumbai and seven additional flights to Bangalore from winter 2008. India also allowed seven weekly flights to Coimbatore and Pune.

Sri Lanka has enjoyed "SAARC Plus" privileges in the civil aviation sector in India. During the 13th SAARC Summit at Dhaka in 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh extended to all SAARC countries the same privileges as were extended to Sri Lanka.


'Taste of India' with leading chefs

Three of India's leading chefs take you on a culinary sojourn with the 'Taste of India' food festival from October 19 to 29 from 7.30 p.m. - 11.00 p.m. at the Atrium Cafe at the Cinnamon Grand.

The chefs are Mohamad Arif Quereshi and Hari Kummar from Radisson GRT, and Krishnan Govindaswamy from the Great Kebab Factory.

The festival will feature food fare from different regions including Awadhi cuisine from the city of Lucknow, Chettinad cuisine from Tamil Nadu, Keralla's seafood flavours, Mangalorean cuisine from the western coast, Punjabi cuisine with Tandoori, Kebabs and Dhals and Andhra cuisine with its spicy flavours.

Chaat items, a range of separate food stations serving kebabs, biriyani varieties, spicy and tangy curries, dosai and delightful desserts are part of the novel features of this mega festival, with dinners having an amazing variety of dishes from various regions.

"The hotel has recreated a little bit of India with typical Indian monuments - live Hindustani music, decor and food to give diners a total Indian experience, while partaking in this nightly feast of flavours," a spokesman for the hotel said.

A special bazaar is also part of the Indian experience with stalls selling sarees, costume jewellery, shawls and other trinkets. Mehendi Art and a fortune-teller with add colour to the evening.

It is co-sponsored by Jet Airways, Carlsberg, Labels, Pepsi, East West and Crisbro.


Etihad Airways to fly to New York

The inaugural Etihad Airways flight to New York is just a few days away and the airline is gearing up to treat their guests to a journey which is just as spectacular as its latest destination.

Since Etihad first took to the skies in 2003 it has received critical acclaim for its innovative philosophy of treating passengers as distinguished guests.

The epitome of Eithad's service excellence is the Diamond Zone. Within that is the revolutionary Diamond Zone Suite, with a seat that sets new industry benchmarks. Not only can it recline 180 degrees into a flat bed, but it can also rotate 180 degrees enabling guests to hold meetings, dine and converse with one another. Guests will also enjoy almost total seclusion with the Diamond Suite privacy.

Diamond Guests can relax in the most luxurious surroundings, enjoying an extensive range of TV programs on 23" personal LCD video screen as well as films, video games and music on the 'air theatre'. In addition the Diamond Zone also provides guests with an individual wardrobe, individual baggage space, in-seat mini bar, individual lighting, in-seat massage and a communication panel, so you can work on the go.

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