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Friday, 18 February 2011

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Focus for tourism in North, East

International Tourism and Investment conference will be held in Colombo in August:

The Northern and Eastern provinces will be transformed into a tourist destination with accelerated tourism related development drive.

“There is untapped potential in the region and measures will be taken to upgrade facilities and construct more hotels preserving the ecological balance. The tourism authorities should make a concerted effort to promote the region which could offer novel attractions,” Chamber of Tourism and Industry Sri Lanka President A M Jaufer told Daily News Business.

The North and the East provinces have around 1,200 hotel rooms at present and this number is insufficient to cater to the expected influx of tourists in the coming years. Therefore more large scale investments are needed to fulfil the accommodation needs, he said. An International Tourism and Investment conference will be held in Colombo in August this year to showcase the tourism potential in the country with special emphasis on the North and the East.

A comprehensive action plan to implement systematic development in the region is necessary and the tourism authorities should include places of interest in the promotional campaigns to create awareness globally.

The Chamber of Tourism and Industry will support stakeholders in the region while taking measures to unleash the potential in the North and the East.

The Chamber will coordinate with relevant authorities to fast track the integrated development approach.

The current logistics support will be improved to meet tourist demand. “We will take measures to upgrade the cottage industries in the region while building linkages to market their products. This could also be a tourist attraction where industrialists will be given financial assistance to progress in their level of production.

“With plans to establish rail connectivity beyond Batticaloa, the Eastern region could become a vibrant tourist attraction,” Jaufer said.


Lankan dances add lustre at Belgium Fair

Sri Lankan dancers dazzled the Belgians who visited the ‘Salon Des Vacances’ tourism fair which was held from February 3 to 7.


The dance troupe performing at the Fair

Dubbed as the ‘largest B2C tourism fair’ in Belgium, this year’s ‘Salon des Vacances’ fair drew more than 150,000 Belgian visitors during the five day exhibition.

Sri Lanka which was participating in this fair after a spell of four years, was part of the ‘Asian Village’ - which depicted the tourism industry and the rich culture of Asia.

The Sri Lanka Embassy in Belgium, together with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau represented Sri Lanka at the ‘Asian Village’ of the tourism fair, while the dancers of the Sarasavi Ranga Ayathanaya of Paris performed at this event.

The increased interest in Sri Lanka as a tourist destination was clearly reflected in the enthusiasm shown by Belgian travellers during the ‘Salon Des Vacances’ travel fair.

In 2010 tourist arrivals from Belgium recorded a growth of 106 percent, compared to the 51 percent growth from Western Europe and overall growth of 46.1 percent.

The 5,398 Belgians who visited Sri Lanka exceeded by a large margin, Sri Lanka Tourism’s estimate for tourist arrivals from Belgium for 2010, and fell only marginally short of the highest tourist arrivals recorded from Belgium in 2006 of 6333. It is estimated that tourist arrivals from Belgium will reach 7,000 in 2011.

This phenomenal growth has been helped by an ambitious marketing campaign undertaken by the Sri Lanka Embassy in Brussels, in collaboration with public and private sector stakeholders of the tourism industry both in Belgium and Sri Lanka.

Besides SriLankan Airlines which offers special packages for Belgian tourists flying out of Paris, Frankfurt and London, connectivity between Belgium and Sri Lanka also expanded in the last quarter of 2010 with the introduction of weekly Brussels-Colombo direct flights by Thomas Cooke and Jetairfly and also with Qatar Airways which has daily connections from Colombo adding Brussels as a new destination.


Hong Kong needs third runway - IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the authorities in Hong Kong to move forward with plans for a third runway at the Hong Kong International Airport.

“Hong Kong outperforms its population size on the world stage because of its connectivity. That drives the economy and creates jobs.

To protect the airport’s competitiveness, sufficient capacity is needed to support growth.

The $900 million midfield terminal project will provide the passenger handling capability. But the current two runways are near saturation.

I am here to make a strong plea to move forward with a third runway,” IATA’s Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani said in an address to the Aerospace Forum Asia in Hong Kong. Hong Kong International Airport was planned in 1992 to handle 87 million passengers and nine million tonnes of cargo.

Growth has been faster than anyone could have predicted. At the same time, the 60 movement per hour cap on aircraft movements limits capacity to much less than this.

Even raising runway movements to 68 per hour as proposed by the Civil Aviation Department, capacity will only be 55 million passengers.

In 2010, the airport handled 51 million passengers so it is already operating at about 90 percent of capacity.

In April, public consultations on the Airport Master Plan 2030 will open with a third runway being a big consideration.

“The phenomenal growth of air transport in Hong Kong has outpaced all projections taken in the early 90’s. If Hong Kong wants to continue to gain the economic benefits of a growing aviation industry a third runway will be needed. You may disagree if it will be needed in 2015 or 2020, or some other date. But it will be needed and the time to start planning is now,” Bisignani said.

Bisignani noted that aviation employs 250,000 people and supports 8 percent of Hong Kong’s GDP. Moreover, Hong Kong is home to 1,300 regional offices employing 140,000 people who are dependant on efficient air links. Bisignani also commented on air traffic management in the Pearl River Delta region.

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