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Sat on the 200m-high Sigirya Rock in Sri Lanka, I couldn’t believe this is what is left of the 7,000-year old kingdom. It’s amazing that it’s not as popular as it should be. This is the island that was known as Serendib (where the word for serendipity is derived) by the Arabs and is the start of our Sri Lanka holiday.

What to Expect on a Sri Lanka Holiday

Most of family and friends that I told that I was going on a Sri Lanka holiday asked, “why?” or said it was an interesting choice. The only person that was positive about my trip was my grandmother, Jean. She’d stopped by in Sri Lanka 61 years ago on her way back to England. She loved it, and so, it turned out, would I.

Anyway, I didn’t care what people thought, there was six of us that were heading off on our Sri Lanka holidays with our bags packed, the decision was made, and the flights were booked. Of course, we didn’t know what to expect but that was part of the excitement. We signed up with a travel agent and decided to take the journey that won the Wunderlust World Guide Awards.

There was 12 of us in total, two English, one Welshman and nine Australians. We found ourselves out of breath on the top of Sigiriya Rock in Matale District, Central Province. We were taken aback. Awe-struck, fending off the monkeys after our delicious fruit and bemused that this was once the place of a civil war despite it being a Buddhist country. The Rock was also a monastery once upon a time.

The Rock is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s no surprise why. Our guide, Noel, has been taken tourists up there for 14 years and knows everything you could want to know about the country and the area. The buses were planned and organised perfectly, there was a mid-route bathroom break and there was the chance to visit the untouched remote hill that was just simply stunning.

All 12 of us were slightly apprehensive about the trek – who wouldn’t be, venturing off into the unknown? – but we had our guide Noel to keep us right. We found ourselves sat with young Tamil children overlooking the tea plantations, and despite the kids having nothing they were so happy to see us. We ventured higher and further into the wilderness stopping at untouched vistas and breaks in the trees and mountains.

Great memories are those that are the simplest, and one of those was all of the guides singing Sri Lankan songs one night while we were waiting for our delicious curries to cook. Most people said they couldn’t believe they were here on their Sri Lanka holiday, while I didn’t want to go home. It has THAT much of an effect on you. It’s not just a holiday.

We had no radio, no phones, no TV, no nothing. But we loved it. Despite the civil war ending just a few years earlier, there is peace now and long may it last. If you’re thinking of somewhere new, somewhere inspirational and beautiful then a Sri Lanka holiday should be high up your list.

The GM of Avani resorts, Singrid Stelling, has been on record to say that the guests’ expectations of what holidays to Sri Lanka should be need to be higher, despite the fact that there are holidaymakers willing to pay for the current hotel process. The ever-growing Sri Lankan hospitality industry needs to keep up and match that of other countries nearby and around the world.

Fantastic Holidays to Sri Lanka

The experienced hotelier showed confidence that holidays to Sri Lanka are becoming more popular and thanks to the unspoilt nature of it, it’s only going to grow and get bigger in the coming years. Similar to nearby Thailand, there are unspoilt beaches, white sands, wildlife, green mountains, a unique culture and a population of friendly people. However, unlike Thailand, Sri Lanka remains intact and without the Government upsets that the Land of Smiles suffers all too often. Sri Lanka could well be the new Thailand as tourism hasn’t overrun the country and there are many untapped destinations that backpackers would be seeking out.

Sri Lanka is more idyllic and laid-back compared to the hustle and bustle of Thailand. The GM has been a manager in many Thai hotels and knows the country inside-out, so her views of Sri Lanka come in high praise. She’s also worked in resorts around China and Europe, therefore she has a wide range and knowledge of the industry. She did express the need for Sri Lanka to have increased infrastructure with proper expressways and better links from the airports at Hambantota and the Port before tourism can really grow and make an impact on the country.

The new airport at Mattala on the east coast bodes well for tourism as this side of the country can be developed and enhanced with the help of tourism. It also means that travelling to the south has been halved in time thanks to the new airport. The great thing about holidays to Sri Lanka is the lack of high-rise buildings and untouched beaches. This is ideal for travellers looking for that Maldives holidays feel without the price. The existing properties blend in with nature and new ones are sympathetically created to ensure that the beaches and landscape have a clean look.

The hotelier mentions a need to focus on the needs of the tourism industry and the needs of the guests that arrive. There is an expansion programme that includes exclusive properties, hotels and boutique buildings that should draw in the luxury traveller. That means that more and more people will be heading on Sri Lanka holidays than ever before. She mentions that she is impressed with Geoffrey Bawa’s architecture and thanks him for the great work on the country’s hospitality industry.

She’s been in the country for 6 months and has taken time to visit the key tourism places and places of interest so she has personal experience of the destinations that her guests could travel to. Those include the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Yala National Park, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, whale watching at Mirissa, and blesses the country for the stunning surprises that it gives.

In an ambitious attempt to draw in foreign tourists for Sri Lankan holidays, the Sri Lankan government is to build 10 stunning, luxury hotels in the Southern Province of the country. They are to be built near to the airport in Mattala, in the Hambantota district.

Awesome New Sri Lankan Holidays

Sources suggest that MP Namal Rajapaksa of the Hambantota district was in talks with the Coordinating Committee members to discuss and move the project forward. Each hotel will be home to 150 rooms, giving an additional 1,500 hotel rooms to enhance tourism in the area, as Sri Lankan holidays are becoming more and more popular nowadays. This means that overnight layovers or connecting flights are easier when stopping in Sri Lanka, and for the local economy it will be a huge plus point.

The 10 luxury hotels will be constructed in the scenic villages of Lellopitiya, Wlipatanwila, Lunugamvehera, Suriyaweva, Weerawila and Mirijawila. Some older hotels in the area are being renovated and modernised to increase the revenue potential of the expected 2.5 million extra tourists heading for their Sri Lankan holidays in 2015.

Seniya Samarasekera, Managing Director/Founder of AV Productions commented on Sri Lanka’s focus being on the destination tourism sector. The audio and visual equipment supplier owner thinks that the local events sector, Sri Lanka holidays such as tourism, hospitality businesses and the local tourism authorities should have a clearly-defined strategy and plan for the upcoming tourism boost the country is set to see.

Sri Lanka Holidays Increase in Popularity

Being in the tourism and events industry for more than 20 years, he has branched a wing of his company out to the destination tourism field as he’s seen it grow year upon year. There is a large-scale expo centre which he runs that has restaurants, conference halls and featured audio/visual displays and equipment.

Aside from this new project, Mr Samarasekera will be opening his boutique hotel for the those on Sri Lanka holidays and VIP visitors of the expo centre and has already claimed the backing and blessing of the local Government. This is incredible news for the businessman, but there is one thing that is missing: finance. He is waiting for a private investor to help fund and implement the plan. He has a foreign events company investor in his sights for the financing who he has been working with for several years, and expects the project to be completed in a few years. His expo centre will have the capacity to house 4-5,000 people and includes all modern and mod-con audio-visual equipment.

This means that Mr Samarasekera will have a one-stop-shop for conferences and accommodation in and around his project. The Conference and Exhibitions (MICE) vertical allows him to offer a full-service conference package for any businesses and companies choosing Sri Lanka as their destination for meetings. As Sri Lanka ties Asia to the West it is a common meeting and stop-off point for flights, therefore it makes sense to have this type of business there. Indian businesses meet with Russian, Chinese, Japanese, American and European, therefore Sri Lanka can pose as the mediation and meeting ground for these companies.

The local tourism for those on Sri Lanka holidays, local events and hospitality industry has been steadily rising but with plans from the Government to push tourism more and the addition of the new airport, it seems that this will only rise in the future. His company, AV Productions, regularly holds incentive programmes and the events market has grown hugely since 2010. All of this came from the man who had Rs. 25,000 in his pocket in 1992 with albeit only a handful of competitors, he managed to establish the company and grow every year since.

When asked about up-coming entrepreneurs of the new generation of people coming through, Mr Samarasekera said, “they should have a lot of patience and that to remember the customer is king”. With that, he said, new business owners will do well as long as they are persistent and bide their time. He mentioned that they should be focused for 100% of the time and be personally involved in every part of the business to ensure it runs as sweetly as it can. Building long-term relationships is the key to success and that is how AV Productions has managed to continue to thrive.

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