Colombo : Bay of Bengal is where the future lies. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) will play an important role in tourism growth in the future.
The port and coastal area of Chittagong, Sundarbans mangrove forest, the eastern coast of Sri Lanka and the eastern coast of southern India is the next region where it will grow. Chittagong could be the hub.
Thilak Weerasinghe, Founder and Chairman, Lanka Sportreizen (LSR) said this while addressing top Bangladeshi travel agents of SriLankan Airlines at a dinner at Catamaran Beach Hotel in Negombo near the Sri Lankan capital city.
Shermal Perera, Country Manager-Bangladesh, SriLankan Airlines thanked the LSR for the hospitality and the agents for the support over the years. Shamnoon Muheb Chow-dhury, Chairman, goBDgo, speaking on behalf of the agents, thanked LSR and SriLankan Airlines for the excellent agents' educational tour.
Thilak said, "I have been to Bangladesh and will visit your country again soon to see how we can take tourism forward."
LSR is a leading destination management company (DMC) which has diversified into different areas. It is registered with the Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority (SLTDA) for over two decades.
Thilak said, I did a course in Europe. Following that I developed hiking, biking, rock climbing and different water sports activities - wind-based, water-based as well as underwater - and have been providing quality services to travellers interested in these activities till date.
Over the years I have become one of the top providers of such travel services in Sri Lanka. One of my vision, when I started, was to provide these services beyond the shores of Sri Lanka. I still have that vision.
Cruise tourism in the Bay of Bengal and the activities LSR carries out fits excellently in the vision, he said.
LSR, with offices in Sri Lanka, Germany, France, Japan, China and India, is one of the top five destination management companies (DMCs) in Sri Lanka, servicing well over 15,000 clients annually from all parts of the world.
We have been identified as the best for all water sports activities including scuba diving for which we maintain centres on the south west coast and the east coast, one with our own resources.
The SriLankan Airlines has recognised LSR's capabilities by appointing us as their sole Transit Passenger Handling Agent. We have annually handled almost 100,000 passengers for the airline during the last few years.
Lanka Sportreizen is also famous for organising different types of sporting events. Some of these events are the Japan Professional Surfing Association's Annual Cham-pionships, the British Profe-ssional Surfing Association's Annual Championships, our own LSR International Marathon now in the calendar as the Colombo Marathon and in its 18th year, SriLankan Airlines Pro Golf Classic, Rumble in the Jungle - Mountain Biking Challenge etc.
Honoured with national and international awards, Weerasinghe is the force, as with other events, behind Sri Lanka T-Cup. In June LSR organised the latest event - Sri Lanka T-Cup, a road cycling event which has been recognised by the UCI, the International Cycling Association, just after its inaugural event last year.
LSR is a strong member of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau and have been offering extremely attractive packages to its clients and organising different types of meetings/conferences. In view of its specialisations which are included in the programmes, we are reputed to be providing extra-ordinary tours for the MICE Segment.
The DMC operates four Travel Centres at the four-star Gateway Taj Airport Garden Hotel, Katunayaka, five-star Galadari Hotel, the Ocean Edge Hotel, a new hotel in Colombo and the only apartment hotel in Colombo, the Global Towers.
It has a fleet of luxury vehicles inclusive of buses, mini coaches, vans, cars, crew cabs, luxury Jeeps etc. LSR is now in its five-storied new office building just outside the city limits of Colombo and are complete with a devoted team of well-competent multi-lingual employees.
It has diversified our activities into the hotel sector and have opened its own hotels - 12-room boutique Hotel in the Bentota Beach Resort called the Marina; 50-room Catamaran Beach Hotel in Negombo (it will undergo refurbishment into a seven-storied property); 26-roomed The Marina, Passikudah, 25 Deluxe Chalets with 50 rooms at Passikudah called Passi Villas; a luxury eco resort with different types of accommodation units in Dambulla named Rangiri Dambulla Resort, and 20-unit Cottage Site at Uva Kuda Oya.
LSR has floated another company called "Tropical Destination" mainly to cater to the high-end corporate market that has been emerging from all over the world for Sri Lanka.
We have equipped ourselves with up market transport facilities in addition to using domestic air services whenever required.
It handles a sizeable number of corporate clients both on FIT as well as Groups for MICE.
Thilak excelled in water sports during his school days, and qualified as a life guard. He was an avid windsurfer, and won several international windsurfing competitions.
He received a scholarship to train as an instructor in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands in a multitude of adventure sports including mountain climbing, biking, kayaking, canoeing, and surfing.
Returning to Sri Lanka, Weerasinghe founded LSR in 1889, aiming at creating his own niche through promoting sports travel.
"I do a lot of mountain climbing, hiking, walking and biking when on overseas travels, visiting peaks in Germany and Switzerland, boating in the Netherlands and engaging in water sports, diving and wind surfing in the Maldives."
"In fact, it was my pet sport - wind surfing - that got me into tourism. I love nature and the environment and make use of precious time during overseas travels to appreciate nature," Weera-singhe concluded.