Channa Mendis, director of Remarkable Sri Lanka Channa Mendis, director of Remarkable Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka appeal: time for NZ trade to capitalise

Now is the time for the New Zealand travel trade to maximise on the new and improving market opportunities offered by Sri Lanka, according to a representative of destination management companies, hotels and a domestic airline in the country.

Channa Mendis, director of Remarkable Sri Lanka and country representative Australia and New Zealand for Cinnamon Air, says daily Sri Lankan Airlines flights out of Melbourne, the opening of new international hotels, and the accessibility of special interest tours are all factors in the destination’s favour.

‘Sri Lanka provides an alternative to traditional choices in South East Asia, the Pacific and even southern Africa.’

Mendis says Sri Lankan DMC Walkers Tours is finding success with bespoke and special interest tours as well as regular scheduled tours.

Remarkable Sri Lanka has also picked up representation of Asia Leisure Hotels, which has five properties currently in operation.

‘They will have a sixth hotel in Galle later this year and there is another property being developed in Colombo, plus projects in the pipeline, including the Maldives.’

He says the growing appeal of Sri Lanka is driven by the stability of the country after a long period of domestic conflict, and the subsequent opening up of more areas in the country.

‘There have been areas that have not been accessible for 30 years, that’s a massive time period to have places off limits. As a result, beaches have opened up in recent times that are in absolutely pristine condition.’

Mendis says Cinnamon Air is a local carrier that is ‘primarily an experience, not just a convenience.’

It operates three amphibian planes and has a number of landings on water – such as on the Pogolla Reservoir for arrivals in Kandy.