22 December 2012

FM Radio Channel Frequency Allocation in Sri Lanka by Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRCSL)

30th October 2012, www.dailymirror.lk

All the 45 FM broadcasting channels, operating in the country will be shifting their FM radio frequencies with effect from November 1, after Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) re-allocated radio frequencies in an effort to minimise the technical problems hindering the listeners from obtaining a clear sound reception.

The TRCSL is vested with full powers to determine and allocate the use of FM frequencies among radio broadcasters within Sri Lanka. At present there are about 45 FM broadcasting channels which operate within the 87.5 - 108 MHz frequency range.

“The TRCSL prepared a new transparent plan to re-allocate the frequencies among the FM channels taking into account the frequencies used by them at present. This was done on the basis of a national policy to reform the existing system, with the objective of minimising the practical problems currently confronting both the radio broadcasters and the listeners,” TRCSL Director General Anusha Pelpita said in a statement.

The statement said under the new plan, the frequencies have been allocated in such a manner to ensure that all FM radio channels could be accessed with ease and sound broadcast from these radio channels is clearly received and heard by the listeners without loss of quality in any part of the island, including remote areas.

“The existing frequency separation of 100 khz between two channels has now been increased to 300KHz. This new arrangement will enable the radio listeners to get a clearer reception in any part of the country from any single frequency,” the statement said.

19 June 2012

18 March 2012

Ferry Service between Tuticorin & Colombo to Resume by End March. Twice a Week Service Started in June 2011 Stopped in November 2011 due to Technical & Operational Reasons

17th March 2012, www.sundaytimes.lk

The ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo is expected to resume either by March end or in the first week of April, A. Subbiah, Chairman V. O. Chidambaranar Port Trust was quoted by the Hindu.

Efforts are being made by the port agency, vessel operators and other stakeholders to resume the ferry operations between the two countries.

Most probably, it would resume before April 14, Mr. Subbiah expressed hope.

The international ferry service between India and Sri Lanka  after Union Minister of Shipping, G.K. Vasan, flagged off the service at the VOC Port. A nine-deck ‘Scotia Prince,’ the passenger vessel chartered by Flemingo Liners twice a week between Tuticorin and Colombo and vice-versa, stopped its voyage abruptly during November, 2011 for some technical and operational reasons.

The problems encountered by the operators had been addressed and they had also submitted a commitment letter to the port authorities, which indicates the early resumption of the ferry service.

As many as 12, 240 passengers boarded the vessel on journey until its  last voyage on November 18, 2011, Mr. Subbiah said.

Related Info :

Sri Lanka India Ferry Service Allows cars to be Brought in under Flemingo Liners' Drive In Drive Out Facility

Sri Lanka India Ferry Service between Colombo and Tuticorin to Start on February 28 with a 500 Passenger Capacity. 100kg Baggage Allowance Given
Visakhapatnam in East coast of India to be Connected to Colombo by Direct Flight & to Trincomalee by Ferry Service

17 March 2012

Sri Lanka Targets $12bn Exports in 2012 up from $10.4bn in 2011. Upcoming Trade Fair & Weaker Rupee to Help

16th March 2012, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka is targeting 12 billion US dollars in exports in 2012 up from 10.4 billion in 2011 which will be helped by an upcoming trade fair and a weaker rupee, export development board chief Janaka Ratnayaka said.

Ratnayaka said if current trends continue exports may reach a 2015 target of 15 billion rupees earlier than expected.

But Sri Lanka's exports increased over 20 for two years running with a stable rupee at around 110 to the US dollar. A currency depreciation, increases profits of an export firm by cutting real wages of workers.

A depreciating currency impoverishes all wage earners and also destroys capital available for future investment by shrinking the real value of financial savings, including bank deposits and pension funds.

Sri Lanka started to have balance of payments trouble and its currency started to depreciate shortly after 1951 when a money printing 'soft-pegged' central bank was created, abolishing a 'hard peg' or currency board, which had kept the rupee fixed for more than 65 years.

Ratnayake said an upcoming 'Expo 2012' trade fair to kick off on March 28, will help Sri Lanka boost exports.

"Already more than 1,000 foreign delegates have signed up," Ratnayaka told reporters.

"Day by day more people are signing up and hotels in Colombo are fully booked and running out of rooms."

A 300 strong delegation would be coming from China.

Related Info :

Sri Lanka Expo 2012 Fair Signs up 370 Exhibitors. To be Held from March 28 - 31 at BMICH, Colombo

Sri Lanka's 2011 Export Earnings Rise by 22.4pct while Imports Up by 50pct Affecting Trade Deficit to Increase by 99.6pct
Exporters Directory CD Launched by Sri Lanka Export Development Board

Sri Lanka's SLINTEC Signs $01bn Nano Technology Pact to Develop Next Geeneration Plant Nutrition Solutions for India's Nagarjuna Group

16th March 2012, www.ft.lk, By Ramani Kangaraarachchi

The Institute of Nanotechnology in Sri Lanka (SLINTEC) and the Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited of Nagarjuna Group India entered into a strategic collaboration of US $ one billion to develop the next generation of nanotechnology based plant nutrition solutions. The signing of agreement held at Cinanmon Grand Hotel, Colombo yesterday.

India's High Commissioner Ashok K Kantha said this initiative taken by the leading manufacturer and supplier of plant nutrients in India and the leading technology institute in Sri Lanka in the key area of agriculture will further strengthen the economic engagement between the two countries.

SLINTEC Chairman Mahesh Amalean said these are next generation green products aimed at increasing productivity and income for farmers and creating a sustainable business for all the stakeholders engaged in agri-business.

He said the vision of the government is to make Sri Lanka a destination for nanotechnology research and development and this strategic partnership with Nagarjuna Group India is the first step towards achieving this vision. The government has contributed Rs 850million for this project.

This is an opportunity for SLINTEC to work with a global partner to take the product development journey from lab to land.

As Nagarjuna Group has an extensive manufacturing and marketing network in Asia ,Africa and South America and is deeply engaged in emerging technology development as a growth engine for the business.

This partnership is an association targeted to take technological and market leadership in the niche nano plant nutrition product space which will be a win win situation for both parties, Nagarjuna Group CEO R.S Nanda said.

Related Info :

Laugfs & Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology to Process Mineral Sands for Value Addition

Sri Lanka to Manufacture Nano Titanium Dioxide from Pulmoddai Mineral Sands

France's AFD Funds Largest Infrastructure Project in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province & Trincomalee

16th March 2012, www.ft.lk

Cabinet has approved a Rs.11.2 billion infrastructure project funded by France for the former war-torn Eastern Province, a Minister said yesterday.

Acting Cabinet Spokesman Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardana told the media that the project would fund much-needed infrastructure for the town of Trincomalee in the Eastern Province. The money would also be used to upgrade 100km of highway, build 41km of provincial roads and repair five main bridges.

The Batticaloa-Tirikkondiadimadu-Trincomalee Road (A15) composed of 99 km and the Allai-Kantale Road (B10) spanning 41 km will be the National Highways while Provincial Roads will be the stretch from Mavadichchenai to Kaddaiparichchan (12km). The major bridges are Ralkuli, Upparu, Gangei, Kayenkerni and Verugal, the Cabinet statement noted.

This is the first large-scale infrastructure project funded by Agence Francaise de Developpment of France and was presented to the Cabinet by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The project is expected to boost tourism in the area as well, which will benefit the economy as the Government expects German tourist arrivals to increase by 15%-20% after the success of the German tourism fair in Berlin.

“We will prove that no other country has invested so much money in such a short space of time in a former conflict zone. We are giving projects in the north and east precedence over those in the south,” he said, referring to the US-backed resolution presented at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Abeywardana insisted that the Government was confident of defeating the motion and proving to the world that Sri Lanka had achieved peace.

Malaysia's Sovereign Wealth Fund Khazanah Buys 8pct of Sri Lanka's Keells Holdings for $ 114mn

16th March 2012, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional Berhad, a sovereign wealth fund has bought an 8.8 percent stake in Sri Lanka's John Keells Holdings in a deal valued at over 14 billion rupees (114 million US dollars), officials said.

Khazanah had bought 74 million shares at 194 with Sri Lanka's Employee's Provident Fund, a state-managed fund of private sector workers' retirement money, among key sellers.

"It is a very positive signal for John Keells and it adds to our very stable long term shareholder base," JKH deputy chairman Ajit Gunewardene said.

Sharhan Muhseen, director investment banking of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which arranged the purchase, was in Sri Lanka to wrap up the deal, sources said.

The EPF sold 71 million shares at 194 rupees, bringing a capital gain to the fund, Kalyani Gunatilleke, superintendent of the Employees provident fund said.

"It has shown the confidence foreign investors have in the economy," she said.

"It has brought liquidity to the stock exchange and boosted transactions. It has brought foreign exchange into the country."

Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal said the deal was part of the several into equity and bond markets that will help stabilize a currency peg. The rupee opened stronger Friday below 124 to the US dollar, from a close of 125.00/25 a day earlier.

"We have seen some fairly strong inflows and that trend seems to be continuing," he said.

"All these will stabilize the currency as we have consistently maintained."

Khazannah Nasional manages over 36 billion US dollars in assets and owns parts of Telekom Malaysia, Axiata and other state enterprises in Malaysia, as well as overseas investments.

John Keells Holdings has interests in ports and shipping, leisure, financial services, commodity broking and food processing.

Its leisure interests include hotels in the Maldives. JKH had assets of 119 billion rupees by end 2011.

The group posted profits of 5.6 billion rupees in the nine months to 2011 unchanged from a year earlier giving earnings of 6.70 per share.

Related Info :

John Keells for a Mega Development on Glennie Street & Ceylon Cold Stores Land

John Keells Holdings Posts Highest Ever Profit After Tax of Rs9.06bn with a Revenue of Rs60.5bn
Sri Lanka John Keells Raised Stake in Union Assurance to 95.6pct

SWITCH-Asia Sustainable Consumption and Production for Food & Beverage Sector SMEs Sri Lanka Success Stories

17th March 2012, www.dailynews.lk,

SWITCH-Asia Food and Beverages Project of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce held a mini symposium on Sustainable Consumption and Production recently.

SWITCH-Asia Programme Project Director S.M. Sathiacama, speaking at the event said that the project which was commenced in 2009 helps Small and Medium Enterprises make their production process efficient by conserving energy and translate these savings to profits.

The implementing agency of the project highlighted the importance of food and beverage producers as well as all other manufacturers to be environmentally friendly and adopt practices that conserve energy and resources, CCC Solutions CEO Prema Cooray said.

The event was attended by a large number of the project's stakeholders in the Food and Beverages Industry ranging from plantations to dairy processing companies and representatives from the European Union, the project's funding agency and also personnel from the Ministries of Environment, Finance and Industry and Commerce.

Minister Counsellor, Head of Finance and Contracts of the European Union Wim Prud'homme highlighted the relationship between the European Union and Sri Lanka and its presence in the country for a long period of time and about its grants extended to Sri Lanka to rebuild after the conflict.

A number of stakeholders of the SWITCH-Asia Food and Beverages Project presented their successful case studies and shared their experiences and knowledge thus inspiring more and more organizations to learn and adopt their conservation success stories.

The entities that shared their success stories were: Convenience Food (Lanka) PLC, Dunagaha Coconut Producers Co-operatives Society, Foreconns Canneries Pvt Ltd, Glenugie Tea Processing Centre-Maskeliya Plantation PLC,

Laxapana Tea Processing Centre-Maskeliya Plantation PLC, Maxies and Company Pvt Ltd, Panilkanda Tea Factory-New Saman Group Pvt Ltd and Richlife Dairies Pvt Ltd. (SJ)

Related Info :

Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Project under SWITCH-Asia Programme Enhances Environmental Performance of Sri Lankan Hotels

EU-SWITCH-Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Project Help Switch from Oil & Diesel to Biomass for Steam Generation in Hotels
Switch-Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Project for better Management of Water, Waste & Energy

Sri Lanka's Renuka City Hotel in a Rs 218mn Expansion

16th March 2012, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's listed Renuka City Hotels Plc said it is starting a 218 million rupee expansion, amid a tourism boom.

Renuka City Hotels said in a stock exchange filing that it will add 18 new rooms, a swimming pool, gym and staff facilities in the project.

Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals rose 30 percent in 2011 and was up 21 percent in the first tow months on 2012.

Sri Lanka Tourist Arrivals in February 2012 Up by 27pct

15th March 2012, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals increased 27 percent to 83,549 in February 2012, from a year earlier, and visitors during the first two months were up 21 percent to 169,423, the state tourist promotion office said.

South Asia, the second largest generating market, showed an increase of 14.1 percent with Indian arrivals up 12.6 percent to 11,342 and Maldives up 15.4 percent to 2,675.

Arrivals from Western Europe rose 23.4 percent to 38,364, though UK visitors fell 9 percent to 8,746. German arrivals rose 42.6 percent to 7,654, arrivals from France increased 27.7 percent to 6,378 and those from the Netherlands rose 15 percent to 2,596.

Eastern Europe generated 3,675 visitors up 62.4 percent and the Middle East brought 3,675 visitors up 21 percent.

North America showed a 20 percent increase to 4,166 with US arrivals up 17.7 percent to 2,252 and Canadian visitors up 22.9 percent to 1,914.

Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals have boomed since the end of a civil war in 2009. In 2011, arrivals rose 30.8 percent to 855,975.

Image Courtesy: www.ft.lk

Related Info :

Sri Lanka Tourism Statistics and Tourist Arrivals

South Asia Tourism Promotion Office in Colombo. ADB Funded Project to Develop Sustainable Cross Border Tourism under South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Program

17th March 2012, www.dailynews.lk

South Asia countries are to launch a joint tourism promotion website and a tourism coordination office to boost the marketing of natural, cultural and historic attractions across South Asia. In addition a regional promotional office funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would be set up in Colombo. The two main areas they hope to promote are Buddhism and Eco tourism.

The website and office are part of broader efforts by the countries to develop sustainable cross-border tourism under the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation program. ADB has been providing technical assistance and other support to help the countries promote and manage tourist attractions such as world-renowned and colorful Buddhist heritage sites. The Tourism Working Group member countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“We are excited about the prospect of more active sub regional cooperation for tourism promotion by means of the new website supported by the new office, which will work closely with the private sector,”said Keiichi Tamaki, Senior Urban Development Specialist in ADB's South Asia Department.

Members of a tourism working group, set up under the SASEC program, who met in Colombo, Sri Lanka also inaugurated the new tourism coordination office based on a new regional tourism action plan for 2011 to 2015. The action plan provides a strategy for developing, promoting and managing sustainable tourist attractions, including Buddhist heritage trails, as well as activities such as Eco and adventure tourism. During the meeting, the working group held talks with ADB and private sector representatives to explore areas where cooperation on tourism could be stepped up.

According to the United Nation World Tourism Organization, in 2010, the countries comprising the South Asia Region received 11.1 million international arrivals or 5.4% of total international arrivals in the Asia Pacific region (204 million). It should be noted that South Asia arrivals do not include the large number of land-based cross border movements by residents of the South Asian countries especially between India and its neighbours.

Of the total arrivals, around 7 million or 63% visited the countries of the sub-region. Based on World Travel and Tourism Council estimates, in 2009 tourism accounted for 6% of sub-regional GDP, employed 37.2 million people and generated around US$20.8 billion in foreign exchange earnings.

“United Nations World Tourism Organization forecasts, by 2015, total international arrivals to South Asia will reach 16.5 million, up by 49% over 2010 and 21 million by 2020 up by 27% over 2015. By 2020, it is estimated that the sub-region will receive 15 million arrivals or 71% of total arrivals to South Asia”, said Additional Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development Nihal Somaweera.

“Tourism sector is one of a handful of fast growing economic sectors of the sub-regional economy that can be both sustainable while making significant contributions towards inclusive development and poverty reduction without having to move people to urban locations to find employment.

“To develop South Asia's unique Buddhist heritage, natural and other tangible and intangible heritage assets into well-developed, integrated, conserved and sustainably managed and globally branded and marketed most preferred destinations”. (SS)

Image: Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa and Country Director ADB, Rita O’ Sullivan at the launch of the website at Taj Samudra yesterday. Picture by Shirajiv Sirimane

16 March 2012

Sri Lanka to Make $2.25bn from Investments on Oil Blocks in Mannar Basin

16th March 2012, www.dailynews.lk, By Ramani Kangaraarachchi

Sri Lanka is expected to generate over US$ 2.25 billion through investments from shallow water oil blocks in the Mannar basin shortly. The investment will be towards off shore oil exploration,drilling and production and infrastructure in the next five years.

Speaking at a forum organized by the National Chamber of Commerce on 'new business opportunities arising out of oil exploration in Sri Lanka,' Wednesday, Director General, Petroleum Resources Development Saliya Wickramasuriya said an international licensing round for some of the remaining blocks, will be launched during the next three months. Only the shallow water blocks in the Mannar Basin, closest to the coast, will be auctioned initially and he hoped that there will be many companies coming forward to invest in Sri Lanka.

Wickramasuriya said there will be a large number of upcoming business opportunities in the areas such as aviation, environment, catering and transportation within Sri Lanka to the right partners. He said that a considerable amount has to be invested on market research and risk management is also a huge area that has to be carefully handled.

Cairn is in the process of conducting more seismic surveys in preparation to drill a few more wells to properly define the reservoir potential ahead of commercial production. Last year Cairn India, was awarded one block in the first licensing round and , found gas and condensate in the first two test wells.

Related Info :

Cairn Lanka to Start 2nd Phase of Oil Exploration in Sri Lanka's Mannar Basin. Oil Wells to be Drilled in 2013

One Billion Barrels of Oil in Sri Lanka Mannar Basin - Director General of Sri Lanka's Petroleum Resources

14 March 2012

Major Facelift for Colombo. $213mn World Bank Funded Metro Colombo Urban Development Project to Minimise Floods and Beautify Sri Lanka's Capital

14th March 2012, www.ft.lk, By Uditha Jayasinghe

Tenders have been called by the Defence Ministry for the US$ 213 million World Bank-funded project to give Colombo a major facelift that aims to minimise floods and beautify the capital.

Titled the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project, the Defence and Urban Development Ministry is focusing on flood control and water front management, medium and small scale infrastructure development as well as institutional building up of local authorities.

The project received Cabinet approval in May 2011.  The newspaper advertisement also details the formulation of an integrated strategic urban development programme for metro Colombo and a feasibility study on a solid waste management system for the capital.

According to the Environmental Management Framework (EMF) compiled by the Moratuwa University in December 2011, the project will cover areas under the Colombo Municipal Council and the peripheral local authorities that include the Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte Municipal Council (SJPKMC), Dehiwala Mount Lavinia Municipal Council (DMLMC) and Kolonnawa Urban Council (KUC). All these institutions will be improved under the project.

The flood control and water front management component includes Beira Lake restoration and creation of linear and nodal parks, construction of Baddegana biodiversity park, restoration and creation of six lakes in the upper catchment areas parliament and fifteen projects to minimise flooding.

Colombo Canal rehabilitation, road improvement, water-based transport improvement and real-time flood monitoring and forecasting are also under the project.

Under infrastructure development, R.A. de Mel Mawatha and Galle Road will be upgraded along with roads in Dehiwala, Mt. Lavinia, Kotte and Kollonawa. In addition Town Hall Square will be improved along with pedestrian overhead bridges at Collpetty and Bambalapitiya. A Marine Drive promenade with Leisure Park and waterfront recreational park in Crow Island are also planned.

Pavements of 10 main roads in Colombo will also be improved, said the tender notice, adding that the construction of 15 toilet complexes are also in the pipeline.

The World Bank will fund a feasibility study on solid waste management system for Metro Colombo as part of the project.
The EMF report also warns that impacts on wetland ecosystems and biodiversity, socioeconomic effects, water and air quality, soil erosion and siltation and traffic jams would be negative effects during the project implementation.

“These impacts, though occurring in most of the sub-projects, will vary in extent and significance, hence individual assessment is of utmost importance,” it said.

Related Info :

Elevated Highways to Ease Colombo Traffic in Sri Lanka. 3 Roads Connect to Expressways Out of the City

Colombo Outer Circular Highway Second Phase to Begin on February 18. 28km Beltway is to Ease Traffic Congestion of Sri Lanka's Capital

Sri Lanka to Plant Rubber in North and East Provinces. 2011 Rubber Industry Grew 58.7pct Earning $885mn

14th March 2012, www.ft.lk

Sri Lanka is exploring the possibility of expanding the rubber industry to the former war-torn North and East Provinces, an official said yesterday.

Lands have already been allocated to be developed as plantations, according to Rubber Research Institute Director General W.M.G Seneviratne.

In 2010, around 25 acres were cultivated in the north and the Government is keen to increase this amount, he said adding that the Eastern Province target was to increase the current 300 acres to 10,000 acres by the end of this year.

Additional discussions on identifying lands and related issues were discussed at a special meeting with Government Agents on Monday.  Government Agents from the northern areas of Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya are already part of the meetings. They will be part of a special steering committee to assess the feasibility of increasing rubber plantations in the region. Military personnel will also be part of this body, remarked Seneviratne. However, the research institute only receives a budgetary allocation of Rs. 2.5 million to carry out its work.

Sri Lanka is considered to be the world’s ninth largest exporter of natural rubber. In 2011 the rubber industry grew 58.7 per cent, reaching US$ 884.8 million. In 2010 rubber earned only US$ 557.6 million, according to the Central Bank External Sector Performance Report.

Last year’s demand was mostly driven by China and India, which absorbed most of the global market as prices of synthetic rubber continued to increase due to high oil costs. The trends are expected to continue in 2012.

Related Info :

Sri Lanka Expands Rubber Cultivation in the Face of Synthetic Rubber Price Increase

Natural Rubber Fetches over Rs 600 a Kg at Sri Lanka's Colombo Rubber Auction

13 March 2012

Sri Lanka's Hemas to Build a $25mn Hotel at Kalutara

11th March 2012, www.dailynews.lk, By Shirajiv Sirimane

Sri Lankan tourism is on an upward trend with increased arrivals and revenue and the country would soon need additional rooms to meet this demand. There is a renewed interest for the leisure sector in Sri Lanka and this arguers well for the industry said Group director of diversified group, Hemas Holdings, Abbas Eusufally, speaking to ' Daily News Business' at the ITB in Berlin. He said that there are new players entering the hotel sector by building new hotels and this is encouraging.

He said the Group too has decided to embark on one of the stalled hotel projects at Kalutara. “Our plan is to build a 150 room hotel complex next to Avani Kalutara and the investment for this would be over US $ 25 million. The Avani hotel too would once again be refurbished and would close in May until next winter.

The Group is also looking at investing on two other hotel projects in the deep South and we are currently studying these proposals. “I have been attending 35 ITB events on the trot and there is a very strong interest not only from traditional markets but from other segments as well,” he reiterated.

He said similarly, the Sri Lanka leisure sector too, soon would also see a high demand for qualified staff for the human resources sector. “Without quality and a well trained staff, one cannot give out a quality product and hence well trained staff is a must. A five star hotel cannot give a two star service,” he said.

Eurfally said that hotel schools and educational institutions set up for this purpose in the country are inadequate to meet the projected demand in Sri Lanka.

“The wages paid to hotel staff may not be enough to keep trained experienced staff in Sri Lanka due to brain drain ,” he said.

Commenting on the allegation that Lanka hotel rates had increased, he said that it is only a general statement. “However I think that in a free economy hotel rooms should not have a price control and it should depend on demand and supply forces,” he said. Regulations in this area is not required.

However he said that hotel rates should be decided on quality and service where the customer should not get the feeling that they are ripped off. 'Value for money is the key.'

He also said that time is ripe now for hotels to refurbish as today the industry is getting returns

mainly due to the peace dividend and there is RoI sooner than anticipated. Eurfally said that one of the grey areas in the industry that he identifies is the lack of a proper destination marketing with a good theme for a along period of time. “Sri Lanka is not properly focusing in these investments and this aspect should improve. Today with several themes, tourists are confused.”

The expressions such as Visit Malaysia, Amazing Thailand, were very successful and they still linger in the minds of the globe tourism industry. “I think Sri Lanka should stick to 'Lanka the Wonder of Asia' and only promote this catch line for a long term,” he said.

He said that being a listed company they have an obligation towards their share holders and would do their utmost to give them good returns. “We will invest but with caution,” he added.

Sri Lanka Bangladesh Trade to Increase with the Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Co-operation

11th March 2012, www.sundayobserver.lk

The latest round of Sri Lanka-Bangladesh Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Co-operation (JTandEC) were concluded in Dhaka, Bangladesh. “Both countries agreed to hold JEC sessions once every two years in future” Minister Bathiudeen said.

“The next Sri Lanka –Bangladesh JEC will be held in Colombo in 2014” “We also discussed ways to boost bilateral trade volumes further.

Our trade has increased by 150 percent from 2001. However, it still has huge potential to grow”,said the Minister.

Sri Lanka’s exports to Bangladesh has increased by 150 percent from 2006-2011 but Sri Lanka believes that there’s untapped potential in bilateral trade. Under the Sri Lanka – Bangladesh Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation, the two countries have already agreed to boost cooperation in small and cottage industries, air services, tourism, shipping, and cultural aspects.

The Sri Lanka-Bangladesh Joint Commission (JEC) is the most appropriate mechanism to implement the 2011 MoUs between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.Among the cooperation avenues is the air-services, Mihin Lanka operates air services from Colombo to Dhaka but the Department of Commerce under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce believes that it would be appropriate if the existing Air Services Agreement is revisited to make it more responsive to current needs, including the facilitation of transport of air cargo.

“Last year President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, agreed that the JEandTC should be revived” said, Industry and Commerce Minister, Rishad Bathiudeen. The fourth session was concluded while the previous JEC, the third session, was held in 1993.

During the visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to Dhaka in April 2011, both countries recognised that the Bangladesh Sri-Lanka Joint Economic Commission as an effective mechanism to further enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries and agreed that the fourth session of the Joint Economic Commission should be held ‘as soon as possible.’ Both sides agreed that bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, though showing positive trends, was far below potential and did not reflect the cordial political relations. It was agreed that the two countries would undertake measures for trade facilitation including identification and removal of non-tariff barriers and simplification and harmonisation of mutually recognised standards.

Sri Lanka's First women’s BPO Launched in Uduvil to Commemorate International Women's Day

11th March 2012, www.sundayobserver.lk

ICTA launched the first women’s rural BPO on March 8 to commemorate International Women's day. It is also the third rural BPO to be launched. This BPO, in the Jaffna District, is being launched in partnership with the Foundation for Advancing Rural Opportunities.

This initiative is not only the very first in the Northern Province but it is also the very first women’s BPO in the country, a senior ICTA spokesperson said. According to ICTA sources it is the outcome of successful collaboration between the ICTA which has been at the helm of driving ICT in rural areas and the Foundation for Advancing Rural Opportunity, FARO a non profit organisation that actively supports employment generation in rural areas by outsourcing business processes of Colombo-based blue chip companies to the village.

This new BPO, named after the Founder of the School is the Eliza Agnew BPO Service Centre is hosted at the Uduvil Girls’ College in Jaffna. Partnering FARO on this venture is Hayleys Business Solutions International (Pvt) Ltd., HBSI (Pvt) Ltd who is very enthusiastic about their foray into rural areas with outsourcing work. The Company was closely involved in the project from the onset – in selecting operators, training and equipping the Centre.

ICTA sees this as a very important milestone in its efforts at taking the benefits of ICT to every village and every citizen. More importantly it supports the Government of Sri Lanka in its efforts at ensuring an equitable development of the country. The e-Society program of ICTA has implemented over 200 ICT based projects across the country. These projects have delivered to the door step of rural communities a host of valuable services – crop price information delivered to farmers via their mobiles; coordinates for fishing locations delivered to fisherman via their mobiles; text-to- Braille software which opens up the Internet and e-mail up for the visually impaired; e-learning software that makes learning fun for children.

The very first rural BPO was opened in Mahavilachchiya in the Anuradhapura District.

Bocuse d’Or World Champion 2009 Chef Geir Skeie in Sri Lanka

12th March 2012, www.nation.lk

Demonstrating the unbreakable link between the industry of tourism and culinary arts, Geir Skeie, the Bocuse d’Or World Champion 2009 Chef shared his cooking expertise with the local hotel school students today at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourist Hotel Management. Chef Geir Skeie arrived from Norway on March 5. At the cooking demonstration, the world renowned chef shared his knowledge of preparing a delicious Norwegian salmon dish with the local students.

He also guided the Bocuse d’or Sri Lanka winners, chef Budhika Samarasekara and his apprentice Rashen John who would go to Shanghai later in this year, with positive hopes for the Bocuse d’Or Asian championship.

The arrival of the Chef Geir Skie was indeed great news for Sri Lanka Tourism. With the ambition of achieving 950,000 tourist arrivals by the end of 2012, Sri Lanka Tourism perceives the importance of raising the standards of culinary arts as a major component in boosting the industry.

Moreover, Sri Lanka Tourism sees a potential in the investment of young and emerging chefs in achieving the future tourism goals. Geir Skie was the winner of Bocuse d’Or in 2009 and Bocuse d’Or Europe in 2008. He also won the prize for the best debut cookbook in the ‘Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2009’.

12 March 2012

Sri Lanka Development Bond Issue Opens. $35mn Three Year Bonds & $10mn Four Year Bonds Offered

12th March 2012, www.ft.lk

The Government of Sri Lanka will be issuing a US$ 35 million three year bond and US$ 10 million four-year bond carrying an interest rate of six month LIBOR (London Inter Bank Offer rate) for US Dollars plus a margin through competitive bidding today.

The issue will be open to bids from 11 a.m. today till 10 a.m. on 19 March with the minimum investment stipulated as US$ 100,000 in multiples of US$ 10,000.

The auction based issue will carry semi-annual interest payments and be exempt from income tax in Sri Lanka.

The agents for the issue will be selected licensed commercial banks and primary dealers with the Bank of Ceylon as the paying agent. The issue will be governed by the laws of Sri Lanka.

Eligible investors include foreign citizens, non-resident Sri Lankans, Sri Lankan dual citizens, authorised dealers, primary dealers, specified companies that have entered into agreement with the Board of Investment and specified insurance companies registered under the Insurance Act.

Designated agents to the issue include the Bank of Ceylon, Capital Alliance Ltd., Pan Asia Banking Corporation. The Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, Deutche Bank AG, DFCC Vardhana Bank Ltd., Indian Overseas Bank, First Capital Treasuries Ltd., Hatton National Bank Plc, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Indian Bank, Acuity Securities Ltd., MCB Bank Ltd., the National Development Bank, Nat Wealth Securities, People’s Bank, Public Bank Berhad, Sampath Bank Plc, Seylan Bank Plc, the State Bank of India, Entrust Securities Plc, CitiBank NA, Habib Bank Ltd. and Wealth Trust Securities Ltd.

Related Info :

How to Invest in Sri Lanka Government Securities - Treasury Bills and Bonds

Strong US Demand for Sri Lanka Apparels. Weak Europe and Domestic Conditions in China Favour Sri Lanka

09th March 2012, www.lankabusinessonline.com, By Jayantha Kovilagodage

Demand from the United States for apparels would be strong this year, though Europe may be weak and domestic conditions in China, a key competitor favoured Sri Lanka, a top industry official said.

"I am of the view that the American market is beginning to pick up," Mahesh Amalean, head of MAS Holdings, a top apparel exporting group said.

"There is labor shortage in China, in the areas where appeals are manufactured."

He said capacity in China is also being utilized to cater to the local market, which is increasingly becoming more prosperous.

"Because of all those reasons, countries like Bangladesh , Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia are now busy," Amalean said.

"And I believe you will see growth. Like we saw last year, you will see growth this year, and next year as well."

China's Renminbi has risen from 8.2 yuan to the dollar in 2000 to 6.2 now, pushing real wages up, poverty down and forcing firms to increase labour productivity.

Analysts say currency depreciation, which destroys the real value of salaries wage earners, pensions of old people and lifetime financial savings of everyone is the principle tool through which a state impoverishes citizens.

Competitive currency depreciation began during the great depression and was institutionalized as a policy tool partly after the interventionist administration of Franklin Roosevelt depreciated the US currency from 20 to an ounce of gold to 35.

Amalean said Europe is expected to be stagnant, but exporters had done well despite the loss of trade preferences.

In 2011 Sri Lanka's apparel exports rose 24.6 percent to 4.2 billion rupees, while exports overall rose 22.4 percent to 10.4 billion rupees.

Sri Lanka's Export Development Board has said that exports to the US, which make up 20 percent of the total, rose 26 percent. Exports to the UK, which made up 11 percent of the total, rose 12.4 percent.

The European Union took up 34 percent of all exports.

Sri Lanka's Central Bank Lowers 2012 Growth Forecast to No Lower than 7pct

10th March 2012, www.ft.lk

The Central Bank will soon lower its 2012 growth forecast of eight per cent to a figure no lower than seven per cent, owing to tighter monetary policy measures and the depreciation of the rupee, the Bank’s overnor told Reuters on Friday.

The bank had originally forecast this year’s growth at eight per cent, slowing from an estimated 8.3 per cent expansion in 2011.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has given a $ 2.6 billion loan program to Sri Lanka, on Monday said the economic growth would be less than 7.5 per cent.

“We are getting ready to lower our growth forecast, around next week’s monetary policy announcement.It won’t be below seven per cent,” Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Reuters.

The bank meets on interest rates next Wednesday, when it should announce the changed forecast formally. Two other Central Bank officials confirmed the revision is under way.

“We will be looking at all the conditions. There are some areas going to be better and some areas not so good. So we are taking a calculated call,” Cabraal said. A record trade gap and a growing current account deficit forced the Central Bank to raise its policy rates for the first time since 2007.

The Central Bank last month halted its defence of the rupee at a specific price against the dollar, having spent more than $ 2.7 billion of its foreign exchange reserves last year to stave off depreciation.That removed a point of friction with the IMF and relieved pressure on its fast-dwindling reserves. Market interest rates have risen by 115-143 basis points since the bank raised its main policy rates by 50 basis points to 7.5 and 9.0 per cent respectively on 3 February. The rupee has also depreciated more than 5.7 per cent since the Central Bank stopped defending it on 9 February. The country is expected to have recorded a balance-of-payments deficit in 2011, although the official figures have not been released yet.

Related Info :

Sri Lanka's Economy to Grow at 8pct in 2012 with a New Deal with IMF

Standard Chartered Research Report Sees Slower Growth in 2012. "On the Ground: Sri Lanka – A Challenging Year Ahead"

Singapore's Auston Institute of Management to Invest Rs 200mn in Sri Lanka on Sports Education

12th March 2012, www.dailynews.lk, By Ramani Kangaraarachchi

A reputed Singapore University, Auston Institute of Management merged with Coventry University UK and will invest Rs 200 million in Sri Lanka on sports education for the first time. Auston Institute Chairman Tan Kah Hoe, who was a former High Commissioner in Sri Lanka told Daily News Business.

The official signing ceremony of the agreement was held between Coventry University's affiliated member in Sri Lanka, Austan Institute of Management-Ceylon Ltd and the Education Ministry at the Education Ministry auditorium on Tuesday.

Hoe said during his tenure in Sri Lanka as the High Commissioner from 1996to 2009 he observed many Sri Lanka students going to Singapore for higher education and in this process he developed a keen interest to help Sri Lanka, as education is the key to peace. He initiated to send 40 Sri Lankan students to Singapore as peace ambassadors then and Auston Institute of Management Ceylon was established in 2010. 'At a time Sri Lanka is interested in inviting foreign investors this scholarship program is a good move.

We can cut down cost on education of Sri Lankan students while promoting local talents to reach global standards', he said .According to this scheme cricket and rugby will be awarded Rs. One million each scholarships to obtain a sports management degree from world famous

Coventry University in UK while completing their three-year degree course in Sri Lanka. The agreement was singed for a ten-year period and 200 school sportsmen will receive Rs 200 million worth scholarships . Every school will be given the opportunity to nominate three sportsmen annually who maintained a superb career in cricket or rugby.

The final selection will be based on four main elements, sports skills, character, scholastic abilities and financial circumstances.

Sri Lanka India Venture Sets up Waste Treatment Plant in New Tourism Zone in Pasikudah on the East Coast

11th March 2012, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's Puritas (Pvt) Ltd, a unit of the listed Hayleys group and Veolia Water India, a part of a France based Veolia Water has commissioned a waste treatment plant for a new tourist resort on the island's east coast.

Puritas said the 185 million rupee plant was on a 20 year built-operate-transfer deal with Sri Lanka's tourism development authority which allocated the new tourism zone in Pasikudah, a former war torn area, to 13 leisure firms.

A 30-year war ended in Sri Lanka north and east in 2009. The east coast is sunny and dry towards mid-year when the traditional tourist hotspots in the West coast are hit by monsoon rains.

"This ground-breaking project reflects not only the Hayleys Group’s and our partner Veolia Water’s, competencies in large-scale environmental solutions, but also our commitment to support economic resurgence in post-conflict Sri Lanka,” Hayleys chairman Mohan Pandithage said in a statement.

"It illustrates the potential for public-private partnerships, particularly in infrastructure development."

Nalaka Godahewa the head of Sri Lanka's tourism development authority said making sure infrastructure was in place was a challenge faced by the state as it helped the tourism sector to grow.

The plant can treat 750 square meters of sewerage and kitchen waste a day and is designed to recycle all water.

Patrick Rousseau of Veolia Water India said the plant's 'green technology' helped keep Sri Lanka remain a beautiful country.

Under the BOT contract, the plant will offer concessionary rates to hotels passing on concessions received from Sri Lanka's Economic Development Ministry.

The plant has recruited and trained people from the Passikudah area to operate and maintain it under Puritas and Veolia Water supervision.

Already two of the 13 hotels are running and the rest are expected to open in 2012 when the resort will have 930 rooms.

Puritas is part of Sri Lanka's Hayley's group's Haycarb division which makes activated carbon products. It claims the world's top stop for coconut shell based activated carbon and has plants in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.

Tourism to be Sri Lanka's Top Forex Earner by 2016 with the Target of 2.5mn Tourist Arrivals

12th March 2012, www.dailynews.lk, By Shirajiv Sirimane

Tourism, with revenue generated from visa on arrival fees will be Sri Lanka's number one foreign exchange earner by 2016 where the country is targeting 2.5 million tourist arrivals. Sri Lankan tourist industry would achieve a golden double of more than one million arrivals and US$ one billion revenue by year's end,which is the target set for 2013.

Tourist Hotels Association and Serene Pavilion Chairman, Anura Lokuhetty said that with peace, tourism is achieving its targets ahead of time. The target set for 2016 is 2.5 million arrivals and US$ three billion in revenue.

However with this positive trend set to continue, the country would collect over US $ six billion (with visa fee charges) which would make the industry the number one foreign exchange earner from its current fifth position, he said.

He said that though there was fear in the industry that the visa on arrival policy would have a negative impact on the industry this has not been the case.

However he cautioned that Sri Lanka is not the only girl in the beach and other countries too are trying hard to promote themselves more vigorously than Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is currently a hot destination. However this advantage would not be there for ever. I think international marketing is now a grey area for Sri Lanka as the private sector cannot do this, he said.

Sri Lanka tourism should take a lead in this regard and invite foreign travel writers to come to Sri Lanka as newspaper publicity would help to promote Sri Lanka in a big way.

He also cautioned the industry that though the country is getting high spenders they should not ‘over price’ since this too would drive away tourists.

The International Tourism Exchange, which is also known as the ITB, is considered the largest global event of the Travel Industry concluded yesterday. Since 1968, Sri Lanka played a considerable role as a member of this event.

In 2012 too, Sri Lanka Tourism plans to take part in this event with positive expectations, marking the consecutive 44th year successfully.

German tourists to Sri Lanka alone exceeded 55,880 last year, indicating a very good potential for Sri Lanka in the German tourist market and this is expected to reach a five figure mark this year.

The awards were designed with Sri Lankan gems with the intention of promoting exclusive Sri Lankan gems in Germany.

This event was held with the participation of Deputy Minister Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, Ambassador Sarath Kongahage, Chairman, Sri Lankan Airlines, Nishantha Wickramasinge and other industry stakeholders.

Image: Three German Tour Operators were awarded for their loyalty. Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, SriLankan Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe and Ambassador Sarath Kongahage with the award winners. Picture by Shirajiv Sirimane

Related Info :

Sri Lanka as a Gateway to Asian Tourism Highway to Promote Tourism Industry and Achieve Targets

Tourism to be Mainstay in Jaffna Economy. Sri Lanka's Northern Capital to Have an Airport in Delft and Islets Developed
Sri Lanka Tourism Statistics and Tourist Arrivals

Sri Lanka's Mattala Airport Promoted at Travel Trade Show Berlin ITB. Number of Sri Lankan Travel & Tour and Hotel Firms Take Part in the Trade Fair

Sri Lanka's International Airport BIA Moves 6.4mn Passengers above the Design Capacity of 6mn

12th March 2012, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Passenger movements through Sri Lanka's main international airport rose to 6.4 million above its design capacity of 6 million passengers, and the state-run agency was scrambling to add capacity, an official said.

Last year, according to the agency's annual report, the international airport at Katunayake handled 5.259 million passengers indicating an increase of 21 percent.

Chairman of the state airport agency, Sri Lanka Airport and Aviation Services Ltd, Prasanna Wickramasuriya told a forum organized by Sri Lanka's shipping academy that the airport handled 208,000 metric tonnes of cargo, up from 187,000 tonnes a year earlier.

The airport can handle 250,000 metric tonnes of cargo a year.

The airport can accommodated 25 airside movements an hour. The airport has been experiencing congestion especially at so-called 'hub peaks'.

Tourist arrivals have been growing over 30 percent a year since a 30-year war ended in 2009.

Thirty three airlines now call at Colombo.

"Day-by-day the enthusiasm is more and other airlines wants to fly into Sri Lanka," Wickramasuriya said.

Wickramasuriya said capacity will be upped by a million passengers a year.

The airport was building a one million passenger domestic terminal to be completed by the end of the year. But it will initially used for international traffic, he said.

Private jet movements had also increased 27 percent, making it difficult to accommodate them, he said. They will be shifted to small airport at Ratmalana, south of the capital Colombo he said.

The airport firm had signed up a loan from Japan to up passenger capacity to 12 million and cargo to 510,000 by 2015, he said.

Sri Lanka one-million-passenger second international airport in Hambantota is also expected to be completed by end 2012 or the first quarter of 2013.

Related Info :

Japan Finnaces Sri Lanka Airport Expansion. Bandaranaike International Airport Sees Congestion Amid a Boom in Air Traffic

11 International Airlines Fly Back to Sri Lanka since the End of War in 2009
Sri Lanka Tourism Statistics and Tourist Arrivals

Sri Lanka Expo 2012 Fair Signs up 370 Exhibitors. To be Held from March 28 - 31 at BMICH, Colombo

07th March 2012, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka Expo 2012 will kick off on March 28, with 370 exhibitors and a series of technical sessions and 700 foreign visitors including a 150 strong delegation from China already registered to attend, an official said.

Chairman of Sri Lanka's Export Development Board, Janaka Ratnayake said the exhibition which will showcase export products and services has attracted, trade and business associations, public and private sector representatives and other international buyers.

Trade delegations from USA (35 members), UAE (50), UK (45), Belgium (25), Singapore (35), Thailand (40), Malaysia (40), Korea (30), Pakistan (20), France (10), Russia (10) and Germany (10) will be attending.

China with 150 and India with 120 will be among the largest delegations.

Among the large buyers who have already confirmed are Walmart Global Sourcing, ASDA, Arcadia, H & M, Victoria's Secret, Bhs, M & S, Calzedonia, Lulu and Carrefour, the export agency said.

Ministerial delegations from Bangladesh, China, India, Korea, Maldives, Pakistan and the UAE would arrive.

At a trade and investment symposium will be held with the participation of Jean-Marie Paugam, deputy executive director ITC, Geneva; Sandro Venonesi, chairman Calzedonia, Italy; Mark Harris, general manager London Stock Exchange group Iran Ogilvie, global head of business services, HSBC.

The 10th meeting of the joint council of the US - Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) will be held on March 27 and the US embassy will also make a presentation on its GDP program and a food law of the Food and Drug Administration.

In addition, the Commonwealth Secretariat will hold a workshop on international investment agreement negotiations and trade and agreement will be signed between Sri Lanka's National Chamber of Commerce and the Malaka Chamber of Commerce in Malaysia.

Tourism to be Mainstay in Jaffna Economy. Sri Lanka's Northern Capital to Have an Airport in Delft and Islets Developed

08th March 2012, www.island.lk, By Harischandra Gunaratna

Jaffna Hoteliers Association (JHA) Chairman Mariyadas Kisho predicts that tourism will be the mainstay in Jaffna’s economy soon and sees the urgent need is the establish a Satellite Hotel School in the northern capital.

Kisho, a Ceylon Hotel School graduate and a student of the now defunct first government sponsored Satelite Hotel School in Jaffna said that since there was a dearth of trained personnel in the Northern Province, hotel owners were compelled to employ staff from Colombo and other areas.

"This has resulted in overheads being quite high ," he said.

If the government opened a Satelite Hotel School in Jaffna it would lead to providing a lot of employment opportunities to the northern youth as the tourism industry was fast developing whith more and more hotels and guest houses being opened, he said.

"There are a number of boys and girls who have just failed to gain entrance to the universities and are unemployed, in the Northern Province and they can be absorbed into the hospitality industry if there is a recognised hotel school to provide them training," The JHA Chairman said adding that "There is an abundance of talent in the area and what is required is proper training and guidance."

Kisho was critical about the previous Satelite Hotel School established by the government in 2002 and said that "The government should not establish a Satelite Hotel Schools in haphazard manner just for the sake of doing it. The one established by the then government in 2001 became a failure and had to be closed down after one year of operation as the government authorities without doing any feasibility study simply started a hotel school merely as a propaganda tool."

The authorities should have created an awareness about such a venture before starting a hotel school, which was a dire need even at that time as there were many children who wanted to join the hospitality industry but lacked opportunities, he noted.

JHA Chairman pointedout that"They should have also given thought to the cultural sensitivities of the Tamils in this part of Sri Lanka." he pointed out.

The young hotelier was of the opinion that the government should provide more tax concessions to industrialists including hoteliers to encourage more investments.

"The government has now relaxed the restriction on foreigners travelling to the North with the much of the area having been de-mined and there is a great influx of tourists visiting the area," he said.

Although land prices had sky rocketed in the north, specially in the Jaffna town limits,Kisho said there are a large number of investors both foreign and local who had either purchased or leased out land, started construction of hotels and guest houses. The land prices had increased tenfold from what it was in the pre-2009 era, he said.

Asked whether there was enough land available for tourism related projects, he answered in the affirmative and added land was not an issue but prices had increased due to the ever increasing demand.

A number of companies and individuals which included foreign investors had begun construction in the north while a few were already in operation.

"There is a huge demand for rooms from foreigners as well as domestic tourists and the number of units available are well below the requirement and demand is on the increase," Kisho said.

He said,the government was encouraging more investments and some of the islets in the Northern peninsula had been earmarked for tourism development with an airport being constructed in Delft, which was the largest of the islets.

"In these islets one could not construct multi storeyed hotels, but what is best suited are eco-friendly chalets and the government is targetting high-end tourists to the islets," he explained.

There is also a luxury fast boat service from Kurikattuwan near Nainativu (Nagadeepa) to Delft as many tourists with a majority of them domestic travellers have started visiting the islet.

Explaining about the other tourism development projects in the north, Kisho said that one or the most sought after beaches in the Jaffna Peninsula was Casurina beach at Karainagar, a narrow stretch of beach with pure white sand. Local investors numbering four to five have purchased land in the area for tourism development and construction would begin soon, he said.

A US$ 20 million project where a number of high-end beach chalets were being built by a London investor at the popular Chatty beach in Kyts while a three star hotel was also constructed there by another, he said.

There were about 15 hotels and guest houses in and around Jaffna functioning at present and Green Grass and Tilco Jaffna City Hotel were some of the new hotels that are in operation in the town with Gnanams which has been there for a long period, he explained.

"There aren’t big hotels in Jaffna yet and what is available are small hotels and guest houses where each will have about 50 rooms maximum," he added.

Nagadeepa (Nainativu) another islet that the government should look at developing for religious tourism as there was a famous Buddhist temple and a Hindu Kovil visited by thousands of devotees. The tourism authorities should invite investors to construct a few guest houses and motels on this small islet.

Related Info :

15 Story Star Class Hotel in Jaffna as Sri Lanka's Northern Province Develops Rapidly. The Hotel Yarl Jetwing is a Joint Venture between Mercantile Merchant Bank Ltd and Jetwing Group

Palaly to be Made an International Airport for Regional Passengers to Sri Lanka. Rs 1bn Allocated for Northern Development

Cairn Lanka to Start 2nd Phase of Oil Exploration in Sri Lanka's Mannar Basin. Oil Wells to be Drilled in 2013

08th March 2012, www.island.lk

Cairn Lanka has commenced the second phase of oil exploration in the Mannar Basin and oil wells are likely to be drilled in 2013 after another round of seismic studies.

Cairn Lanka, the wholly owned subsidiary of Cairn India Limited successfully completed the first phase of the exploration campaign on Sri Lanka’s side of the Mannar Basin on Block SL-2007-01-001 and has delivered two back to back discoveries.

According to our sources here, the seismic study has already commenced in the Mannar block, and the seismic vessel Pacific Explorer has begun its seismic activity. The 3D seismic contract has been awarded to Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS). The seismic survey will be followed by a technical evaluation of the data, data interpretation and then with another drilling campaign. An international tender for this seismic programme was floated by the company last year during the first phase of drilling campaign.

Cairn Lanka had spent over US$ 150 million in the first phase of the drilling campaign that resulted in two gas discoveries. The initial estimate for the programme was around US$ 110 million.

The drilling campaign in the second phase will be undertaken during the fair weather window and it is learnt that Cairn Lanka has already initiated its legwork for this second phase with a plan for a deepwater drilling campaign. According to the scope of the international tender, the work programme will involve one firm well and have provisions for three optional wells too, in the Gulf of Mannar. It is likely to commence in 2013, post completion of data interpretation and other pre-drilling tests and studies.

Cairn Lanka has also floated an international tender inviting experienced services contractors to provide services for this deepwater drilling campaign.

The company has invited an international tender bid for the drilling operation. A series of stringent guidelines have been laid out for the contractors who need to comply with, and should have a successful track record to be considered. Special emphasis is also being laid on the contractor’s ability to adhere to the "stringent" health, safety and environmental management requirements.

According to industry sources, the company is looking for a Drillship or Semisubmersible Rig – that is capable of operating in water depths between 800 to 1700 metres. The rig should have a capability to drill a maximum depth of 5500 m.

The first phase of the exploration programme involved the acquisition, processing and interpretation of 1,753 sq km of 3D seismic data and a three well deep water drilling programme. The seismic programme exceeded the phase I commitment by 20% and the drilling programme exceeded the drilling depth commitment by 50%. The first phase of the programme resulted in two successive gas and condensate discoveries: the CLPL-Dorado-91H/1z well and, the CLPL-Barracuda-1G/1 well.

Related Info :
One Billion Barrels of Oil in Sri Lanka Mannar Basin - Director General of Sri Lanka's Petroleum Resources

Cairn India Calls for Oil Spill Response Proposals as It Drills First Well off Sri Lanka in August
Sri Lanka's Commercial Production of Oil Could Start by 2017 - Professor Stuart Burley of Cairn India