News digest: protecting whales, top destinations, great rail journies

Sri Lanka acts to protect whales and dolphins

Good news for whale-watching tourists to Sri Lanka. ColomboPage reports that “Sri Lanka fisheries minister seeks Navy and Coast Guard help to prevent dolphin and whale hunting in south”.

Minister Mahinda Amaraweera is pressing for robust legal action against the fishermen who hunt dolphins and whales, particularly in the seas off Mirissa and Matara, two pre-eminent whale-watching locations.

The minister reportedly says that “…it is a prime duty of the nation to safe guard dolphins and whales … therefore permits of such fishermen shall be terminated”.



Sri Lanka in top five Asia Pacific destinations—PATA

Travel Daily News reports that Sri Lanka is in the top five of Asia Pacific tourist destinations that have together seen a 24 million jump in arrivals this year, up from 577 million in 2015.

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Annual Tourism Monitor 2016 covers 44 destinations in the region, and “provides a comprehensive perspective on the shifts and changes occurring within the Asia Pacific international travel sector over the past five years”.

The top five are Myanmar, Japan, Chile, Thailand and Sri Lanka. But, PATA CEO Dr Mario Hardy warns of “the need for constantly improving tourism management procedures and protocols if we are to maintain delivery of a superior product and service”.



First-ever halal retreat for Muslims launched in Sri Lanka

CapitalFM in Kenya reports that the world’s first-ever halal retreat has been launched in Sri Lanka, “combining spirituality with personal development for the fast-growing tourism segment targeting the urban global Muslim traveller”.

Launched by HalalTrip and ProductiveMuslim, the venue for the retreat, from November 19 to 25, is at Tangalle, and will include a stay at the 5-star Anantara Tangalle Beach Resort.

The report says: “The Muslim travel market is now widely recognised as a key growth tourism sector projected to be worth $200 billion by 2020 according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2015, the most comprehensive research that has been released on the sector.”



Sri Lanka ‘to boost business and conference tourism’

The Khaleej Times in Dubai reports that Sri Lanka is “set to boost MICE industry [Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions] credentials”, which is expected to bring in $10 billion revenue by 2020.

It reports Charitha Yattogoda, Consul-General of Sri Lanka in Dubai and Northern Emirates, as saying: “We are currently very strong in India in terms of conferences, while we have a lot of incentives coming from this part of the world [Middle East] as well as Europe.”

At the same meeting, Prema Cooray, chairman of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, pointed out that the French Travel Agents Association will host their annual congress in Sri Lanka this year, attracting around 400 to 500 attendees.



Rail tourism ‘a major boost for Sri Lanka’

Ceylon Today reports that rail tourism is a major attraction in Sri Lanka, pegging the story on a trip to Passikudah by delegates from the UN World Trade Organisation (UNWTO).

CNN recently reported that Sri Lanka’s rail network “stretches across some of the country’s most scenic landscapes, from tea gardens and paddy fields to that famed coastline”.

Expo Rail and the Rajadhani Express are first-class carriages run by private operators attached to regular trains run by Sri Lanka Railways. Between them they serve more than 60 destinations on four different routes.

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