The travel agencies represented on that trip were Masons’ Travel, Seashell Travel, Creole Travel, Travelplus and OceanAir Travel.
It was realised during the tour that Sri Lanka has a lot of good things going on that can be picked up by Seychellois and make good use of for the economic betterment of Seychelles. Be it in tourism, health, hospitality, agriculture, education, maritime to name a few, our sister island has the expertise with which they can help the Seychelles.
The trip kickstarted with a tour of the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage which was established in 1975 with seven elephant orphans. Today some of these orphans enjoy the good fortune of seeing their grandchildren born in the same location. The original objective of establishing the orphanage was more destined towards tourism, but soon became a conservation and educational centre. With the help of local and foreign elephant experts, Pinnawela started a scientific captive-breeding programme for these animals. The free movement of the herd enhanced the chances for respective individuals of both sexes to get together and mate. The nearby river played a dominant role in this regard, and in 1984, the first baby of Pinnawela was born. The success story of Pinnawela has drawn the attention of scientists from all over the world. A considerable number of books and research articles on Pinnawela have been published in several languages.
The members of the Pinnawela herd have been filmed, videoed and photographed thousands of times by professionals.
The travel delegation then went on a city tour of Kandy, a world heritage site, which was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. There they were driven across the Kandy Lake built by the last Sinhala king; saw the Temple of the Tooth Relic which is a Buddhist temple. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Kandy is a Unesco world heritage site partly due to the temple. Monks of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily worship in the inner chamber of the temple. Rituals are performed three times daily: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings.
A stop at the Mesna Tea Centre was very welcoming as the Seychellois travel agents got the chance to savour some refreshing cups of hot Ceylon tea.
Amid verdant hillsides high above Kandy, Amaya Hills welcomed the local travel agents to a relaxing lunch within its graceful private havens with designs recalling the region’s ancient and natural wonders. All rooms and suites at Maya Hills boast private balconies overlooking the sweeping valley or lush mountainside, with interiors defined by unforgettable details and natural modern grandeur.
It should be noted that apart from the Cinnamon Grand which provided accommodation to the group and The Gateway Hotel Airport Garden Colombo which was the first stop over from the airport for the familiarisation group, the travel agents also experienced other luxurious hotels in Colombo like the Kingsbury, a 229-room hotel with views over the Indian Ocean, which describes itself as an ode to the golden age of grace and elegance with a mission to celebrate the guests uniqueness with their institution; the Cinnamon Lakeside and the Galadari, a hotel adjacent to Galle Face Green promenade and with views over the Indian Ocean.
In a presentation at their office to inform the local travel agents what Aitken Spence Travels does and has to offer, the assistant manager of the company, Kokila Vallusamy, gave a brief history and facts on Colombo and Sri Lanka and the hotels and resorts owned by her company not only in Sri Lanka but also in the Maldives, Oman and India.
She also described the richness in beauty and the unique heritage of Sri Lanka as taking a journey through a dream and also on the historical sites in Anuradhapura, Pollonanaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Galle where her travel company can organise tours for those interested in visiting such places. Ms Vallusamy also brought to life the glorious sights and sounds of Sri Lanka in her presentation like Kandy – the charming hill capital; the endless miles of golden sandy beaches; nature, wildlife parks and the elephant orphanage; the central highlands of Sri Lanka featuring Adam’s Peak, Horton Plains, Knuckles Range which the local travel agents can mention when selling Sri Lanka. Not forgetting the shopping, nightlife and exquisite cuisine her country has to offer. The island can be described as a land of the daring as it has something to offer for everyone.
Aitken Spence Travels is the leading travel company in Sri Lanka representing a host of travel agents and tour operators and a train of world renown hotels spread from Sri Lanka to the Maldives, Oman and India. It can best be described as the most professional Destination Management Company in Sri Lanka and has succeeded in achieving this by consistently offering a personalised service of the highest efficiency exceeding clients’ expectations in certain instances.
It is the first DMC in Sri Lanka to receive the prestigious ISO 9001:2008 quality certification; the first to obtain the acclaimed Green Globe 21 certification and has won many awards like the PATA Gold awards and National HRM Awards. It is the only DMC in Sri Lanka to have entered ‘The Hall of Fame’ in destination management.
The travel agents also toured prestigious hospitals of which we will talk about in a separate article.