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Insurance industry records 12.6% growth in GWP in first half

The insurance industry was able to achieve a growth of 12.60% in terms of overall Gross Written Premium (GWP), during the 1st half of 2018 recording an increase of Rs. 9,593 million when compared to the same period in the year 2017, a release from the  Insurance Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka said.

The GWP for Long Term Insurance and General Insurance Businesses for the 1st half of 2018was Rs. 85,755 million compared to the 1st half of 2017 amounting to Rs. 76,162 million posting a growth of 12.60% (1st half 2017: 13.87%). The GWP of Long Term Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 37,902 million (1st half 2017:Rs. 33,657 million) recording a growth of 12.61% (1st half 2017: 11.06%).

The GWP of General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 47,853 million (1st half 2017: Rs. 42,505million) recording a growth of 12.58% (1st half 2017: 16.20%).

The value of total assets of insurance companies has increased to Rs. 581,770million as at end of 1st half of2018, when compared to Rs. 533,075millionrecorded as at end of 1st half of 2017, reflecting a growth of 9.13% (1st half 2017: 11.42%).The assets of Long Term Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 407,708 million (1st half 2017: Rs. 375,159 million) indicating a growth rate of 8.68% year-on-year.However, the growth of assets of long term insurance business has significantly dropped compared to 15.93% growth recorded during 1st half of 2017.

The assets of General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 174,062 million (1st half 2017: Rs. 157,915 million) depicting a growth rate of 10.23% (1st Half 2017: 2%) at the end of 1st half of 2018. Accordingly, the growth of assets of general insurance business has shown a significant increase compared to the same period of 2017.

At the end of 1st half of 2018, investment in Government Debt Securities amounted to Rs. 176,471 million representing 47.48% (1st half 2017: Rs. 175,627;51.32%) of the total investments of Long Term Insurance Business, while such investment of the total investment of General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 42,486 million representing 37.98%.

Accordingly, the total investment of both Long Term Insurance Business andGeneral Insurance Business in Government Securities amounted to Rs. 218,957million (1st half 2017: Rs. 211,599million).

Thus, the investment in Government Securities of Long Term Insurance Business and General Insurance Business has increased by 0.48% and 18.11% respectively.

The claims incurred by insurance companies during the 1st half of 2018 in both Long Term Insurance Business and General Insurance Business was Rs. 38,422 million (1st half 2017:Rs. 32,249 million) showing an increase in total claims amount by 19.14% year-on-year. The Long Term Insurance claims, including maturity and death benefits, amounted to Rs. 16,104 million. The claims incurred in General Insurance Business, including Motor, Fire, Marine and other categories, amounted to Rs. 22,318 million.

The profit (before tax) of insurance companies as at end of 1st half of 2018in both Long Term Insurance Business and General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 21,656million (1st half, 2017: Rs. 4,660 million) showing an increase in total profit amount by 364.71%.The profit (before tax) of Long Term Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 17,319 million (1st half 2017: Rs. 738 million) while the profit (before tax) of General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 4,337 million. Thus, profit (before tax) of Long Term Insurance Business and General Insurance Business has increased by 2,246.57% and 10.57% respectively.

Out of twenty-six (26) insurance companies in operation as at 30th June2018, twelve are engaged in Long Term (Life) Insurance Business, twelve companies are carrying out only General Insurance Business and two are composite companies.

Fifty-nine insurance brokering companies, registered with the Commission as at 30th June2018, mainly concentrate in General Insurance Business. The premium income generated through insurance brokering companies in the 1st half of 2018 with respect to General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 11,560 million, 13.48% of total GWP (1st half 2017: Rs. 9,915 million; 13.01% of total GWP) while the premium income generated with respect to Long Term Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 353 million, 0.41% of total GWP.

The total premium income generated through insurance brokering companies with respect to both General Insurance and Long Term Insurance Businesses amounted to Rs. 11,913 million, 13.89% of total GWP, during 1st half of 2018, compared to Rs. 10,055 million, 13.20% of total GWP during the 1st half of previous year.

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TVS Ntorq 125 scooter hits the roads in Sri Lanka

TVS Ntorq 125, the latest 125cc scooter from the TVS Motor Company ,Chennai based manufacturer lunched in Colombo on Wednesday 12  is catering to all age groups specialty the youths while offering something lively and fresh with high tech  to the present generation , officials of the company divulged. 

The also marked the unveiling of an exclusive technology platform TVS Smart X connect , making it Sri Lanka’s first connected scooter, Senior Vice President ,International Business , TVS motor Company R. Dillip said.  TVS Smart X connect is an innovative Blue tooth –enabled technology which is paired to an exclusive NTORQ mobile app which can be down loaded from goggle play store. 

It enables a host of first –in- segment additions to the fully digital speedometer with 55 features including navigation assist, top speed recorder, in- built lap timer, phone, -battery strength display, Cell phone connectivity, last parked location assist, service reminder, trip meter, and multi ride statistic modes, such as street. 

When riding the scooter during traffic jams has been made easy owing to the sharp handling and the light steering of the scooter, flicking the scooter and navigating through traffic is actually easier, Mr Dillip told the BUSINESS Times On the sidelines of the launching ceremony. 

“We have developed an attractive feature rich product for the young scooter buyers in Sri Lanka , he added.  The scooter market in Sri Lanka is on an upswing and is largely driven by the youth of the country. Our latest 125cc offering is a fantastic package of stunning style, smart technology and performance, which will attract this set of young customers," TVS Lanka Pvt. Ltd CEO Ravi Liyanage said. 

TVS NTORQ 125 has been developed based on the TVS Racing pedigree and comes with the state – of –the –art CVTI-REVV 3 Valve engine

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Cinnamon Life to make Colombo a hub of world entertainment

Cinnamon Life, Colombo’s most anticipated integrated development is adding new dimensions to the city’s arts and entertainment offering with a line-up of events and international performances slated as a major boost during the forthcoming tourist season. With a continued agenda of bringing famed international artists, celebrities, performers, culinary experts and global travel influencers, the latter half of the year promises to be one of the highest forms of entertainment for both locals and tourists alike.

Cinnamon Life, initiated by Sri Lanka’s premier listed conglomerate, the John Keells Group, is the realisation of a vision to elevate Colombo into a regional hub with multifaceted entertainment, performing arts, commercial and business experiences that would expand the visiting tourist profile to Sri Lanka. With 10-acres of integrated spaces, Cinnamon Life designed by globally acclaimed master architect Cecil Balmond will consist of a luxury 800-room 5-star hotel, 427 premium residential apartments, a 30-storey office complex, five storeys of retail and unlimited entertainment.

Along with the development of Cinnamon Life, Colombo is fast transforming into a metropolis that is set to increase the current 3-5 star room capacity from 5367 to an additional 3585 rooms by 2021. Identifying the massive potential for tourist attractions, Cinnamon Life is spearheading the transformation of accessible entertainment and cultural experiences of the highest calibre in Colombo.

Many diverse events were organised this year starting from the much acclaimed theatrical play, The Sound of Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber & David Ian’s Really Useful Group Production. Cinnamon Life proudly presented one of the most famous musicals of all time enabling guests to relive a world-class musical that has made its mark on some of the world’s most revered stages like West End and Broadway.

The world famous culinary celebrity of home cooking, Nigella Lawson became the talk of the town this June, in a series of events hosted with Cinnamon Life in Sri Lanka. During her visit, Nigella toured the island and experienced Sri Lanka through the vibrantly inspired Cinnamon properties including a tour at the Yala Safari Park, before she made her formal public appearances at a cocktail and an in-conversation brunch, followed by high tea and a book signing session.

Recently Cinnamon concluded the inaugural Colombo Music Festival, that was held on August 18, 2018, a Caribbean themed showcase of the most iconic global reggae-fusion artists such as Maxi Priest, Shaggy, Big Mountain and Diana King. The Colombo Music Festival created a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere in par with international musical events at the Havelock Sports Club Grounds Colombo, offering non-stop entertainment from 3 p.m. till midnight.

For the December holiday season, Cinnamon Life is set to present Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus’ world famous smash-hit musical Mamma Mia! for the first time in South Asia, a classic theatre performance that has been showcased around 440 cities across the globe. Over 75 internationally acclaimed performers will be in Sri Lanka, from the stages of London’s West End, to deliver a total of 10 shows from December 22 to 30.

Roshanie Jayasundera-Moraes, chief marketing officer, Cinnamon Life stated, “The largest private sector investment of US$ 850 million consisting of an 800- room five-star Cinnamon Hotel, 427 premium residential apartments, a 30-storey office complex, 5 storeys of retail and unlimited entertainment will provide an excellent investment opportunity for anyone looking for a prime real estate investment. This culinary and entertainment hub will continue to bring to you a series of world class events giving you a glimpse of what to expect at Colombo’s life capital which will be the ultimate lifestyle hub locally as well as globally. We encourage everyone to stay tuned as we bring to you many more exciting initiatives.

“Cinnamon Life, following its opening it will be the hub of world-class entertainment. stated, “It is set to bring to reality the lifestyle, culinary and entertainment aspects to Colombo’s social life that was previously beyond our reach. Thus, the globally reputed initiations such as The Sound of Music, the Colombo Music Festival and Mamma Mia! is a step towards realising one of our most aspiring dreams as a star-class Sri Lankan hospitality chain,” said Dileep Mudadeniya, vice president John Keells Group, head of brand marketing Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts and CEO Cinnamon Life Mall.

With this new benchmark for world-class entertainment and cultural experiences available not only in Sri Lanka but across the region, Cinnamon Life will continue to collaborate across a global platform to further fortify Sri Lanka’s emergence among the region’s leading entertainment travel destinations, while contributing to the transformation of Colombo’s own vibrant social lifestyle.

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India and Sri Lanka Trade Groups Sign Cooperation Agreement

The ‘Colombo Forum’ was signed on 20 September between the New Zealand India Trade Alliance (NZITA) and the New Zealand Sri Lanka Business Council (NZSLBC). The agreement is aimed at increasing trade between the two countries and New Zealand.

Chairman of the NZITA, Mr Giri Gupta says both member organisations are comprised of private sector innovators, entrepreneurs, professionals, and managers: “It makes sense that we work together to expand trade opportunities with the region”.

“There are huge growth opportunities in the region, but it is extremely hard to build the right relationships without assistance and market knowledge”.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Chair of New Zealand Sri Lanka Business Council Dr. Lal Senaratne said, “The Colombo Forum will allow both organisations to provide a regular and recognised platform for promotion, innovation, entrepreneurship, and start-ups between India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand”.

“The relationship will promote cooperation and shared information with regard to trade, market development, and services for members of each group. It will make it much easier for New Zealand based companies to expand into the Indian and Sri Lankan markets”, Dr. Lal said.
The agreement covers areas of trade, commerce and industry with a systematic approach to business promotional activity, and participation in exhibitions and trade fairs to be held in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and India. The agreement will make it much easier, for example, for trade delegations to visit both India and Sri Lanka in one trip, and provide a range of business contacts in both countries.

Congratulating the New Zealand Sri Lanka Business Council and the New Zealand India Trade Alliance on signing this agreement, the New Zealand High Commissioner to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Ambassador to Nepal Her Excellency Joanna Kempkers said, “I was delighted to hear of the plans for closer cooperation between the two business organisations. While the markets of Sri Lanka and India are distinct, there are commonalities that mean this collaboration makes perfect sense. Geography is most obvious in this regard. Many products shipped to India actually transit Colombo port before going on to Mumbai. Sometimes the distributors of a product that New Zealand companies are trying to export will have a licence for the whole South Asian region. And Sri Lanka, with its smaller market of 21m people, can provide a more comfortable testing ground for New Zealand companies looking to springboard in to India. I am confident that the closer links between the two organisations will create synergies for New Zealand business”.

The NZSLBC promotes economic and cultural relations between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. The council consists of business leaders from New Zealand who have both professional and personal experience of business in New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lanka looking to sell hotel stakes, possibly within six months

The Sri Lankan government plans to put two state-owned hotel companies up for sale within the next six months in a sale that could raise $500 million for the island nation as it seeks to bolster its finances, the State Finance Minister has announced.

Sri Lanka faces repayments on expensive infrastructure foreign loans starting this year and already has a hefty debt burden, while its rupee currency has plummeted to record lows.

"We're going through the legal hoops of preparing (the sales)," State Minister Eran Wickramaratne said in an interview. "It will maybe take six months to get over that."

The government began a search for investors in January for the Grand Hyatt Colombo and for a 51% stake in a five-star hotel in the capital Colombo that Hilton International runs under a management contract.

Bids For National CarrierSri Lanka would also reopen bidding for national carrier Sri Lankan Airlines, probably in a few months, Wickramaratne said.

Talks with private equity firm TPG Capital, the sole bidder in a previous push to sell the carrier, collapsed last year during due diligence.

"We are going through an internal restructuring again, and we may have to make a different offering in a different structure," Wickramaratne said. "I'm expecting in the next few months that it will be open for people to express interest".

Fiscal And Monetary Policy MeasuresSince 2015, the government of the USD 87 billion economy has introduced fiscal and monetary policy measures including tax reforms and a flexible currency exchange rate.

But Sri Lanka has struggled to overhaul major state-owned enterprises including its airline due to a lack of funds and protests by trade unions.

The International Monetary Fund urged the country in June to strengthen governance and transparency at state firms.

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Cygnett Hotels & Resorts to enter Sri Lanka

Gurugram-based Cygnett Hotels & Resorts is planning to set up hotels in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh soon, said a top official.

“Having established our presence in northern and western parts of the country, we are now eyeing overseas markets,” said Sarbendra Sarkar, founder and MD, Cygnett Hotels & Resorts.

“To begin with, we will enter Sri Lanka and Bangladesh before the end of fiscal 2018, followed by South Asia, Middle East, North Africa and the U.S.”

Eyes 1,800 roomsThe first hotel in Bangladesh (Dhaka) would become operational by March 2019, while it might take 18 months in Colombo. Eventually, Cygnett may manage 1,000 rooms in Bangladesh and 600-800 in Sri Lanka.

“Our investments in these properties would be minimal, as we follow asset-light model,” he said. “We help our partners in building these hotels as per our specifications in technology and in running the property.“The promoters have committed to invest about INR 40 crore in Bangladesh and INR 35 crore in Sri Lanka for 100 rooms each. The average per room investment in Bangladesh is INR 40 lakh and INR 35 lakh in Sri Lanka,” he added.

Though Cygnett Hotels has different categories of hotels ranging from from five star to three star, budget and economy, it would offer five star to three star services in Bangladesh, three and four star services in Sri Lanka.

“Three and four star hotels are [a] growing segment in Sri Lanka. We get good number of travellers from India. But, in the case of Bangladesh, we get travellers from China, Japan and India. There are no branded hotels and we can easily fit in,” he said.

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Ceylon tea prices continue upward trend

The 40th sale of the year concluded this week had on offer a small volume of 4.88 M/kgs, which is the lowest quantity on offer at a given auction since March 2017.

Tea prices continue to appreciate for the second consecutive week in the backdrop of a sharp decline in availability combined with a significant depreciation of the Sri Lankan Rupee against the US Dollar, approximately 5% depreciation during the last one month and almost 10% for the year, according to Forbes & Walker tea market report.Ex-Estate offerings were similar to last and totalled 0.73 M/kgs. 

There was good demand particularly for the better teas, which often appreciates Rs. 20 per kg and more following special inquiry. Plainer and thin liquoring teas were often discounted, whilst teas from the Nuwara Eliya region were neglected, with very little interest for the corresponding BOP/BOPF grades.

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Colombo Stock Exchange raises red flag on cable firm's Kenya subsidiary

The parent firm of a cable manufacturing company, Sierra Cables EA, has been placed on a watch list by the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) after the company’s auditor raised doubts over the poor performance of its Kenya subsidiary and its local Sri Lankan arm.

Sierra Cables set up its Kenyan business in 2015, but is yet to break even. “The securities of Sierra Cables Plc has been transferred to the watch list with effect from September 7 as the audited financial statements for the financial year ended 31 March 2018 contains an emphasis of matter on going concern pertaining Sierra Cables Plc’s subsidiaries’, Sierra Cable East Africa and Sierra Industries,” said the firm in a regulatory filing seen by the Business Daily.

The parent firm in the regulatory filing linked the troubles of its Kenya subsidiary to huge capital investments in setting up its local factory, which was operationalised last year.

The firm said it earlier secured sufficient orders from Rural Electrification Authority (REA) of Kenya to run the factory profitably, but had been unable to operate at optimum capacity and recover the fixed overhead.

By December 31, 2017, Sierra Cables East Africa had accumulated losses of about Sh10.5 million and its current liabilities exceeded its current assets by Sh56.7 million.

Sierra Cables East Africa CEO Ruwan Fernando said that the firm had introduced new cable products and was banking on the improved political environment to fast track its turnaround.

(Business Daily Africa)

“We are confident about the Kenyan market and the region … 2018 will be better,” he said.

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Havas Media India wins Sri Lanka Tourism’s Rs 30 crore digital account

Following a multi-agency pitch, Havas Media India has won the digital media mandate of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) in partnership with its Sri Lankan partner agxa.

The account size is estimated to be approximately Rs 30 crore and will be handled out of the agency’s Gurgaon office led by Uday Mohan, Managing Partner – North and East India. The mandate includes social media, mobile and website.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) is the authoritative government body responsible for handling all marketing and promotional activities related to the travel and tourism industry of Sri Lanka.

SLTPB carries out marketing campaigns targeting both the trade and consumer segments to support reaching the government’s tourism arrival and revenue targets.

The SLTPB intends to launch a global destination marketing campaign for Sri Lanka over a period of three years. The campaign will be an integrated brand campaign focused on promoting awareness of tourism products in Sri Lanka, increasing the number of tourist arrivals, and targeting more high-value tourists to achieve the targets laid out for the sector.

MP, Minister of Tourism Development John A.E. Amaratunga said, “A transformation of the tourism industry is required to make Sri Lanka competitive in the global travel marketplace. Our vision is to be the world’s finest island for memorable, authentic and diverse experiences.

SLTPB’s aim is to provide improved quality of services and service delivery by embracing digital and social mediums. The underlying goal of all efforts is to offer world-class visitor experiences while still being firmly rooted in the inherent natural, cultural, historic and social capital of Sri Lanka. We are happy to be partnering with Havas Media on this transformational journey.”

Havas Media Group CEO – India and South Asia Anita Nayyar said, “Sri Lanka is a vibrant, exciting and cultural destination and tourism is an incredibly important sector with over 2 million visitors each year spending approximately US$ 3.5 billion. According to a study conducted by Havas Group, travel & tourism ranks No. 1 as the most meaningful category globally and brands that are meaningful enjoy 60% higher chance of purchase in this category. The industry is poised to offer great growth and investment potential. We are delighted that Sri Lanka Tourism found value in our offering and appointed us to partner them in their endeavour to promote this beautiful island nation.”

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Hambantota Port signs agreement with world's largest maritime transport operator

The Hambantota Port in southern Sri Lanka signed its first Terminal Service Agreement (TSA) with K-Line PTE Limited (KLPL), one of the world's largest maritime transport companies, local media reported on Sunday.

The agreement was signed between Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) and K-Line PTE Limited, a member of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. of Japan, the global giant in transportation.

The TSA was a result of K Line's decision to partner HIPG to improve their throughput via the Hambantota port, as the international standard service delivery levels were consistently achieved and maintained by HIPG, and met with K Line's own levels.

The signing of the TSA is not only a first for HIPG but also a milestone for the Sri Lankan industry as this is the first such agreement to be signed with a maritime tranport operator in the country's history, local media reported.

China Merchants Port Holdings (CM Port) and state-owned Sri Lanka Ports Authority, in last July signed an agreement to manage and run the operations of the Hambantota Port.

Following the signing, the HIPG was set up, which is a joint venture company formed by the Sri Lankan government and CM Port.

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Danish pump company offers ground-breaking water solutions for Sri Lanka

Danish pump manufacturer Grundfos will be partnered with Sri Lankan government to bring innovative water technologies alive into the country.

Supplying world-class pumps in Sri Lanka for 25 years, Grundfos is today focused on commercial building services, water utility, and supporting industry with leading pump and water solutions.

Grundfos’ biggest projects are supplying pump solutions for Shangri-La Colombo under its commercial building services arm, upgrading works for Lion Brewery as part of industry, as well as supporting the construction of a water treatment plant for the Vavuniya General Hospital, the second largest hospital in the Northern Province.

From an industry perspective, a key sector the company is focused on is the beer industry, where they provide various water transfers and booster pumps required in their production process, as well as for the gloves production industry.

Grundfos’ Sri Lankan partners, Analytical Instrument and Hayleys Aventura (Pvt) Ltd., provide after sales services to the industry and commercial building services sectors respectively.

To help drought-stricken cities tackle periods of water scarcity, Grundfos has supplied solutions that are able to utilise abundant solar energy to power water supply, such as the SQFlex submersible pumping system.

Outside of flood management, Grundfos extended its services for water treatment plants in the Mannar and Vavuniya districts.

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Information seminar organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Moscow promotes  Sri Lanka tourism in the Russian Federation

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation organized an information seminar to promote tourism to Sri Lanka, in partnership with Anex Tour which is one of Russia's leading tour operators, on 14 September 2018. The event was organized with the support of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and attended by 60 travel agents working under Anex Tour brand name. 

The event started with the welcome speech given by H. E. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Russian Federation, who was the chief guest of the event accompanied by Madame Sanja Jayatilleka. Ms. Chathurika Perera, Second Secretary (Commerce) of the Mission, Ms. Madhusha Perera, Assistant Director (Russia and CIS) of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and other Officials of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation also attended the event.
 
Addressing the gathering H.E. the Ambassador thanked Anex Tours for their active role in building the bridges between Sri Lanka and Russia and noted the part of Russian Travel Agents in expanding people to people contacts between the two countries. 
 
H.E. the Ambassador further said that, Sir Arthur C. Clarke selected Sri Lanka among all countries of the world for containing the greatest cultural and ecological diversity in the most compact form. Ambassador Jayatilleka invited all Russian tourists to visit Sri Lanka and experience this diversified nature and the culture of Sri Lanka.    
 
During the session, Ms. Chathurika Perera, Second Secretary (Commerce) of the Mission gave a presentation on Sri Lanka tourism information resources and visa procedures. 
 
Further, Mr. Alexi Malyshev of Marketing Department and Ms. Anna Ckachenko, Head of Sri Lanka Destination of Anex Tours were also made presentations which are very valuable for promoting tourism between Sri Lanka and Russia.
 
Ms. Anna Kardanova of Aeroflot Russian Airline, during her speech announced the establishment of direct regular flight between Moscow and Colombo as of October 2018. 
   
Many Russian guests noted the efficiency of such information seminars and expressed their confidence that, the event was a great opportunity for them to learn more about Sri Lanka’s tourism industry with a view at expanding and diversifying travel programmes for Russian tourists in Sri Lanka.

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