Jetwing Sea opens
Seashells, located in Negombo re-opened as Jetwing Sea last Saturday.
The Jetwing Hotels Chairman Hiran Cooray said, "It is a significant
achievement and one that epitomizes the Jetwing promise of delivering
highest quality and excellence in everything we do. We shall continue to
strive, reach higher and bring you the best in service and standards
that has become our very hallmark."
The chief guest at the occasion was Economic Development Minister
Basil Rajapaksa, and the guest of honour was External Affairs Minister
Prof G L Peiris.
Cuba likes US changes on travel to island
Cuba said Saturday it welcomes moves by the United States giving
people greater flexibility to travel and send money to the island,
state-run media said.
The United States on Friday eased restrictions on visas, remittances
and travel under its embargo on Cuba. The White House said the changes
would weaken the long-held grip on power of the communist Government in
The moves include expanding religious and educational travel between
the United States and Cuba, allowing any US airport to offer charter
flights to Cuba, and letting people send up to US $2,000 per year to
non-family members "to support private economic activity, among other
The Government-run website Cubadebate.cu on Saturday posted Cuba's
official reaction, which reminded that the embargo remains in place,
"Although these measures leave intact the blockade and don't
substantially change Washington's policy, they reflect the consensus of
large segments of the American people for a change of policy toward the
island," the statement said.
The site, which publishes opinion pieces by former president Fidel
Castro, said President Barack Obama's changes reflect US policy under
former president Bill Clinton, who like Obama is a Democrat. President
George W. Bush, a Republican, had tightened restrictions.
The White House said the measures will "increase people-to-people
contact, support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of
information to, from, and among the Cuban people and help promote their
independence from Cuban authorities."
"The president," the statement continued, "believes these actions,
combined with the continuation of the embargo, are important steps in
reaching the widely shared goal of a Cuba that respects the basic rights
of all its citizens."
The Cuban website said Obama pledged nearly two years ago to ease
restrictions but then pulled back because of the December 2009 arrest of
Alan Gross, a 61-year-old State Department contractor. Cuba claims Gross
is a spy who was distributing cell phones and laptops to opponents of
President Raul Castro's communist regime. Gross remains in jail but has
not been formally charged.
The US embargo on Cuba was partially imposed in 1960, just after
Fidel Castro staged his revolution, became law in 1962 and is now the
biggest remaining hangover from the Cold War. The United States bans
most trade with and travel to Cuba.
Obama has the power, under legislation passed in 2000, to regulate 12
categories of authorized travel to Cuba. But he cannot lift the embargo
unless authorized by Congress, an unlikely prospect.
European tourists evacuated from Tunisia
European tour operators on Saturday evacuated thousands of
vacationers from Tunisia after a wave of unrest forced the president
from power and left the popular tourist destination reeling.
French tour operator Ceto warned it could take a few days to bring
home the estimated 8,000 French visitors, due to the evening curfew and
the need to find planes and arrange special flights, said group head
Tunisia reopened all airports and its airspace on Saturday after they
were apparently closed the day before as deposed president Zine El
Abidine Ben Ali prepared to flee the country, ultimately heading to
Saudi Arabia although a civil aviation official later denied there was
any temporary closure.
In London, Europe's biggest tour company Thomas Cook along with First
Choice said they hoped to bring back nearly all their 1,500 clients
within the next day. They have scheduled seven flights out of Tunisia on
The British tour operators association ABTA said it did not have
precise figures on the number of Britons in Tunisia in the midst of
political turmoil but estimated they numbered between 2,000 to 3,000.
Chikli like other operators interviewed by AFP insisted that their
clients were "secure in their hotels." At the same time, all planned
excursions to the north African country in the immediate future have
Tourists whose holiday plans have been suddenly disrupted have a
couple of options, Claire Banham, a spokeswoman for ABTA said.
"One of them will be to rebook at a later stage. One would be to look
at an alternative holiday. And a third and this applies to package
holidays, would be a full refund from the tour operator," she said.
But the French and British foreign ministries and those of other
countries have again "strongly" advised their citizens "to avoid all
travel that is not of an urgent nature" to Tunisia.
"The situation can rapidly change and is unpredictable," the British
Foreign Office said.
A similar warning came from Moscow which said some 250 Russian
citizens had sought the warm sunshine in Tunisia but were expected to be
repatriated on Sunday.
Operators like Germany's TUI tourism group said they were using the
airports at Monastir and Djerba as arranging flights out of the capital
Tunis were a bit more difficult.
"It appears that all our clients are going to leave Tunisia today,"
said Ulla Buchert, a TUI representative, whose clients number about
1,000 out of the estimated 5,000 German tourists in the country.
Thomas Cook said it expects to repatriate 1,800 people to Germany.
Belgian operator Jetair said it was bringing home 1,000 clients to
Brussels this weekend and Thomas Cook's local branch about 360 people on
"Everything went well from the hotels to the airports," said Thomas
Cook Belgium's spokesman Baptiste van Outryve. "The evening was calm."
Swiss tour giant Kuoni said that all 230 of the company's Swiss clients
in Tunisia have been contacted.
Catamarans race in Negombo
A line of catamarans setting out to the horizon. Pictures by
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) in collaboration
with the Negombo Hoteliers’ Association conducted a
catamaran race under the January theme of Pristine Beaches.