Sunday Observer Online


News Bar »

News: Biggest trade fair in Jaffna after seven years ...           Political: Tamil political parties pledge support to EPC ...          Finanacial News: Millionaires are the biggest loan defaulters in Lanka ...          Sports: ‘Loku’ thinks best chances of playing lie in limited-over cricket ...

DateLine Sunday, 18 May 2008





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Business Travel

Sharp growth in outbound travel business

The outbound travel business has been growing on a year on year basis over the past few years compared to the inbound travel market which is dampened with every little incident that takes place in the country; unless the tourists come and experience the ground situation for themselves, said Senior Vice President, JKH Group CEO Mackinnons American Express Travel (Pvt) Ltd Trevor Rajaratnam.

Trevor Rajaratnam

He said that over a decade ago only business people and a selected few who were able to obtain visas and had the income were able to travel abroad. But now the trends have changed and today, all levels of income earners including the low income earners travel abroad.

One main reason for this trend is the marketing strategies adopted by travel agents as well as the competition among the credit card companies, making available schemes such as the fly now pay later and buy one get one free.

He said whatever the ground situation people have a desire and the ability to pay and the world has become a small place for Sri Lankans as people can afford to travel today.

With a Sri Lankan passport the only two countries people can travel without visas are Singapore and the Maldives. Therefore, it shows that Sri Lankans can fulfil the requirements laid out by the respective High Commissions or embassies which is also a reason for the outbound leisure travel to increase.

He said an industry that has grown, is outbound holiday packages and we are not talking of destinations such as Singapore, Bangkok, Malaysia or India but tours to destinations such as Europe, USA,Australia, Concerts and Cruises.

but the middle income earner flies to more affordable destinations such as Thailand or Malaysia on shopping trips.

Another growing market is Incentive Travel and during the past 2-3 weeks our company sent about 400 people on incentive travel packages given by various companies to countries such as Dubai, Thailand, Malaysia and India.

The segment of incentive travel companies say thank you to their dealers and offer full paid holidays to different destinations once a year.

In addition, the segment of business travel also still continues to grow and if the overseas partners are reluctant to fly in the Sri Lankan counterparts fly out.

Rajaratnam said that air ticket costs have gone up by 70-100%,compared to a couple of years ago, due to the fuel tax and airlines are clever enough to separate the airfare component and the fuel tax component as their pay out to Travel Agents are less.

As a result the travel agents, margins are further thinning down .

He said that the monthly turnover is Rs. 2bln but their earnings have reduced and we are working on thin margins.

He said, “The most disappointing factor for us in the travel trade is, customers changing a travel agent for the benefit of Rs. 500 Rs. 1,000.

In most instances at the end of the day the customer is the loser when he shops around and obtains the quotation from all and sundry, because, at times, he gets to know that the quotes were incorrect”.

Rajaratnam said that as in all other businesses to get a quality service you have to pay a little extra, but the travel industry is one industry that customers bargain until the last cent.

Therefore, collectively we are working to bring in some discipline. It is up to us to make them understand, he said.

Another issue, he highlighted was that Sri Lankans wait until the last minute to make their travel plans which exerts much pressure on the travel agent. At present the airlines are structured in such a way that earlier the booking is made the lower the price.

Even in the same class,such as Economy Class, the price varies according to the date you booked your seat, he said.

Manpower was another issue faced by the industry and to attract talented people to the industry we need to pay them good salaries and provide them a good training and with the wafer thin margins, there are certain limitations.

Rajaratnam said that about two years ago the country had only 45 IATA qualified travel companies but now there are 103 IATA qualified Travel companies.

Ayurvedic tourism a booming industry

The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine organised a workshop at the Auditorium of the Sri Lanka Tourism to explore the possibility of working together to evolve a new concept ‘Ayurvedic Tourism’.

Ayurvedic tourism is becoming a booming industry in the region. Large numbers of Westerners are growing disenchanted with the high cost of healthcare of their Allopathic system of medicine and its many side effects.

The growing emphasis the world over is now on natural/herbal and holistic methods of healing and the ancient science of Ayurveda, which fulfils all these requirements, is gaining widespread popularity.

The practice of indigenous medicine in the country which spanned several millennia has now got a new lease of life due to growing global interest and both ministries have decided to set up a new framework of standards to increase the level of professionalism within the industry so as to better serve the more sophisticated foreign clientele.

A new committee has been set up by Minister of Tourism, Milinda Moragoda with the task of setting standards and conducting workshops for Ayurvedic practioners and therapists to improve their professionalism and teach them how to deal with the tourists.

The committee invited members of the Tourism industry to discuses issues relevant to this important sector.

Minister of Indigenous Medicine, Tissa Karaliyadda, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, George Michael Malimage, Secretary, Ministry of Indigenous Medicine, the sub committee chairman of Ayurvedic Tourism Dr. Cooray Waidyasekara and more than two-hundred resource personnel participated.

This new form of tourism is expected to produce several jobs and earn more foreign exchange for the country, said Minister Karraliyadda in his keynote address at the opening session of the workshop.

For the first time in the history of our Ministries we are working with a common agenda and it will help to uplift the ancient science of Ayurveda to join the global needs.

Dr. Waidyasekara, told the Media that many local Ayurvedic physicians are used to an uncomplaining, unquestioning Sri Lankan clientele. A few hotels in Sri Lanka cater almost exclusively to Ayurvedic tourists but the demand still seems to exceed supply and there is scope for a lot of expansion within the industry.

Double bonanza from Emirates

Travelling out of Colombo with Emirates in May and June will be extra-rewarding as a result of two new promotions that will run concurrently in this period.

The award-winning Dubai-based carrier is offering all members of Skywards, its frequent flyer program, an opportunity to double their Skywards Miles when they fly to any one of 24 selected destinations in Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Far East.

Simultaneously, all passenger’s who book their travel on-line via, and complete at least one sector of travel between May and June 30 stand a chance to win 250,000 Skywards Miles at a draw to be conducted at the end of the promotion.

“This is an absolute double bonanza for our passengers,” said Emirates Sales Manager Sri Lanka Devika Ellepola, “It will make their travel even more interesting and give them something to look forward to at the end of their journeys.”

She said that all Skywards members who register for the Double Miles offer will automatically get double the Skywards Miles they are entitled to, while all those who book on line will qualify for the draw, whether or not they are Skywards members at the time of the booking.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

| News | Editorial | Financial | Features | Political | Security | Spectrum | Impact | Sports | World | Plus | Magazine | Junior | Letters | Obituaries |


Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2007 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor