Saturday, January 29, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
After a cautious 2010, tour operators and travellers are once more in search of unique experiences and good value. The destinations to watch are those that offer both.
Emerging from troubled times is Sri Lanka, where 30 years of on-off civil war ended with a no-holds-barred government offensive in spring 2009. Package tourism on the west coast beaches had always held up, but with peace has come a push to expand capacity and open new regions. Yala and Wilpattu National Parks – Asia’s best places to see leopards – have recently reopened, as have the surf-mecca beaches of Arugam Bay.
Firmly ticking those boxes is the kingdom of Jordan, long a favourite of independent travellers but increasingly a flag-bearer for mainstream tourism to the Arab world. With luxury hotels springing up in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, eco-tourism flourishing in the country’s nature reserves, and low-cost airline Easyjet launching direct flights from the UK in March, the country looks like strong competition for Egypt or Dubai.
Even in 2011, pockets of Europe remain thrillingly unfamiliar. One of this year’s most intriguing prospects is Albania – partly for its quiet, affordable Mediterranean beaches, partly for its rugged landscape. For active types, the biggest buzz is around the “Accursed Mountains” of the country’s far north – an isolated region of serrated 2,600m peaks populated by bears and wolves, with farming villages rich in folklore.
Peru has a huge year ahead. In July the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu celebrates 100 years since its rediscovery. Those averse to hoop-la might be better off exploring northern Peru, home to equally impressive hikes, historical sites and a new cultural tour, the Moche Route.
For wildlife enthusiasts, 2011’s hottest ticket is Zimbabwe. Two years ago the country seemed near collapse: cholera was claiming thousands of lives and hyperinflation was churning out trillion-dollar-bills worth £20. But a coalition government, a dollar economy and improved public health have resulted in a queue of tour operators keen to rejuvenate tourism in what was once southern Africa’s adventure capital. And the prospects for visitors are juicy: thunderous Victoria Falls, the ancient granite kopje of the Matobo Hills, and superb wildlife viewing – Hwange National Park alone boasts 40,000 elephants
Courtesy - FT.com
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Hong Kong hotel chain Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, which specializes in luxury hotels, in 2011 will begin construction of 7-star hotel on Sri Lanka. The agreement with the Sri Lankan government to acquire ownership of 10 acres of land near Colombo - Galle Face - is already signed. Until then this site was owned by the Ministry of National Defense.
Chairman of the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Agency (SLTDA) Dr. Nalaka Godahewa told the Daily News Business and the Island Financial Review that at this site in 2011 to begin to work a 7-star Shangri-La, and the total amount of investment of the Hong Kong group will be about $ 500 million.
Currently, Shangri-La group, which is engaged in hotel business since 1971 and has become one of the leaders of the industry, owns about 70 hotels and resorts in Asia-Pacific, Middle East and North America. It has more than 30.000 rooms and suites of various categories. In addition, the group is building new hotels in such countries as Canada, Australia, Britain, Turkey, China, India, Macau, Philippines, Turkey and the Seychelles.
Mr Godaheva expressed confidence in the success of the joint project, and noted its exceptional importance for the development of tourist infrastructure in the country: "This is a landmark achievement for the government of Sri Lanka. Such mega-investments undoubtedly strengthen investor confidence and create a more attractive investment image of the country. Also the chairman of the Tourism Agency reported that there were applications from other hotel chains to build two more 7-star hotels on land belonging to private individuals.
It should be noted that shortly before the Sri Lankan government has opened a tender for construction of ten artificial islands around the Kalpitiya coast. At the moment it received 11 bids from investors from around the world. The results should be announced by the organizing committee appointed by the government as early as this weekend. It is assumed that the project will be able to attract investments of U.S. $ 500 million.
Also, in order to attract tourists to the island of Sri Lanka and increase interest around the world SLTDA planned to conduct in 2011 a large-scale promotional campaign, which was called 'Visit Sri Lanka'. Each month of the year will be devoted to a particular topic, which promotes a holiday on this paradise island. It is assumed that as a result of this campaign the group will achieve 31-percent increase in attendance, and the total number of visitors of the island will be more than 750.000 people per year.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Sri Lanka will shift its visa issuance operations to the internet in the new year “as early as possible.” This means that the visa-on-arrival facility will not be available from the time that the online visa process begins.
Asked about the date when the process will begin, one source in the presidential secretariat told The Hindu that the shift had been authorised by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday. “I am not aware of the modalities. But it will be from early next year. This will save a lot of visitors the trouble of going to a Sri Lankan mission in their countries, for their visas,” he added.
The Controller of Immigration and Emigration would work out the details. The President has instructed the Controller to work out an online visa regime that was simple and secure. Now, a foreign national can enter Sri Lanka if he/she holds a return air ticket and sufficient funds. Tourists from most countries are granted landing visa for 30 days at the port of entry in Sri Lanka. It is also possible to extend the visa for two months over and above the 30-day period, but this will only be done at the Immigration and Emigration head office.
It was on August 27 that Sri Lanka first announced suspension of visa-on-arrival facility extended to citizens of 79 countries, including India. The announcement was to take effect from September 30. The reasoning was to extend the visa-on-arrival facility only to those countries that reciprocate this facility. Travellers from Singapore and Maldives were exempt from this since both these countries reciprocate. Citizens of these countries are exempt from the new online process too.
However, the implementation of the scheme was delayed because of the apprehensions expressed by the tourism industry.
Tourists visiting Sri Lanka have increased manifold after the end of a three-decade war in May last year. The number of tourists went up 63.1 per cent to 72,251 in November 2010, compared with the same period the previous year.