The Forgotten Lesson | How to Recover Your Business with Domestic Tourists?

The well-known Tourism industry has its roots over almost all industries in the world. That’s one of the reasons that it is connected to everyone’s lives and that’s why they travel. Inbound and outbound travels has its own differences and unique characteristics. However it does matter to destinations when certain situation develops or repeats. Either it’s a disturbing and fearsome terrorist attack, a global pandemic, an economic recession or a simple repetitive reason like the seasonality; the travellers number fluctuation will happen while impacting the core business.

Most of the DMCs and operators, specially SMEs are highly depending on the government or authorities promotion tools which is an common factor. True, benefits of the taxes they paid in the name of tourism has to be utilised. In the long run, this method is very effective and economical where the inbound tourist to the country will be shared by the ability of each operator.

Flash Back

Looking at the past disturbing incidents in the world, such as the Brussels bombings, Sri Lanka Easter Sunday attack or the France attack: There were different trends in recovering. The current Covid-19 has made the whole world clueless with its tentacles wrapping all the continents.  The past lessons and the analysis shows the most effective actions that these countries has taken. After addressing and controlling the immediate security or the threat level of the country, there were many things followed after. Carefully reaching the possible markets, usage of social media, promote heavily but carefully and reduce restrictions were some visible actions from most of the countries. These were aimed at the International tourist, which took time to flourish.

Why the Local Traveller?

The local travellers played a vital role in these situations as they were enjoying the heavy discounts offered by the operators in the industry. It encouraged them to travel to destinations with less expenses. However the cash flow kept the businesses running by supporting the community and their employees. As an example the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, the hotels offer discounts ranging from 50% to 70% on accommodation, which was an another accepted tool which was practiced around the world after a major disturbance in the industry. Many institutes including hotels, restaurants, spas and specially the transport sector  recovered to a certain level without declaring bankruptcy. 

What’s Wrong?

When the wind is in their favor, most of the operators ignore the local traveller as they don’t deliver the expected amount of USD to the business. Focusing on the big fish is becoming the day to day preaching when the foreigners are available. This is highly practiced around highly seasonal areas in regions and the upmarket institutes.  Business perspective, it’s fair by them. Considering the average check and the ARR, it is always appealing to see a larger number. But shouldn’t you have business ethics? Should you have responsibility, relationship and principle towards your countrymen? 

Personal stories and the posts on social media highlights some of the incidents that the local travelers face versus the some operators, where they were ignored and rejected over the foreigners. The disposable income of the locals also differ due to their expectations, so don’t underestimate the spending power of the local tourist.

How to Reward and Retain the Local Traveller?

The local tourist will always travel within the country for different purposes. Irrelevant if its leisure, business, medical, spiritual or  VFR; The local traveller will contribute in many ways. In certain areas local travelers could be the number one contributor to Pro Poor Tourism. Even for SMEs. The cash that will be injected and circulated to the tourism industry is considerably high by these transactions. So why waste the opportunity? 

6 ways to appreciate the local Tourist while gaining the benefits

Giving Discounts When Possible

Without compromising your high demand products and services on the high season, always look for opportunities to reward the local traveler. Guess what, you are spending on your direct marketing. Just add that discounts to your marketing expense and see how much you have spent vs what you get. The locals will talk about your services. They will become the ambassadors of your property. You will receive more local guest to experience your services. Since it local it is easy to travel, they don’t have to pay for an expensive flight seat.

Pricing Structure

There are negative and positive perspective about having two different pricing structures for locals and foreigners. However, be careful when introducing or changing your pricing strategies of your product or services. Do not harm the flow or the behaviour of the local tourists. 

Create a Loyalty Free Scheme

No need to invest on an expensive system or paperwork implement this. Recognize your customers, offer them services. Everyone likes to be recognized than the other. That’s human psychology. Look in to your past records, analyse them and train your staff to focus on developing your local customer base. This could be interpreted as taking care your guest with extending value added service and products. Give information, create the environment and accommodate special requests.

Do Not Discriminate

Do not decide your guest by the look. It could be anybody. There can be foreign passport holders who pays less and locals who pays more. All are travellers. Everybody is there to taste your amazing food or to feel the hospitality that you offer. So do not discriminate the local traveller by saying this property is “Foreigners Only”. Refusing to give the services to any guest without a valid reason is a legitimate concern of the courts too.

Offer the Same Service

This could be the most recorded concern of local tourists. Differentiation of the guest will lead to a conflict. The owners and the company might have a fair understanding about the situation but it has to be conversed to the employees who offers the products and the services. Under the operational restrictions, always willing to offer all the available services to all the guests in the property is a another way to respect your guest.

Social Media Updates

Let the domestic travellers receive your pics and stories to know your product. The reach is very important. They will be the first to come to your property to try your new dish or your innovative cocktail. Try to include the local tourist in your stories. There is no other person to describe the destination and the attractions to the world in your region, and your company. 

Let’s Explore Sri Lanka

Madushan Jayathilake – The Blue Team

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Covid Bored? | Join the Force

The new Corona Virus pandemic has changed the attributes of the Global working force as almost everyone cannot live the regular office day. It has taken different forms such as Work from home, E-learning/Teaching, Remote work, Work online etc. You might already missing your fellow commuters to work and your work colleagues during this isolation. 

However there are more things that you can do to keep yourself accompanied with the free time you have after completing your daily work at home. Definitely you will have more time to spare during these days, even you are saving the travelling time and even the office lunch.  

This is an opportunity to change yourself with the global turnaround while staying at home. Not that your new Tv series, Play-station or the never ending Tv channels will help you to pass the day, by adopting these will lead into to a new life style that you might continue even after the Covid-19 shutdown.

Gardening

This stress reliving hobby will give you a lot of benefits. Due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak the world has met the ultimate economic nightmare, where there are questions of survival of the mankind. Most of the governments are encouraging their citizens to grow at home to produce whatever they can. 

There are enough of social media influence and online help to you to start your garden even if you haven’t done it before or even with your previous busy work schedule. Plan your space, what your grow and other infrastructure. It is important to have a separate time to work at your garden which should be listed on your daily schedule. 

Don’t forget, you will harvest what you grow!!!

Art and Creations

This could be the ideal time to start your long forgotten golden ideas and projects. Drawing, Painting, Sculpting, Building, Inventing or Creating of your choice needs some detail attention. Kick starting your old hobbies might direct you or starting something new will keep your mind active and take you somewhere. 

There can be barriers of getting the needed raw materials for your Arts and Creations, but you will find something to enhance your skills during this period until the shops open and continue. You will be able to continue these even during the regular holidays after the shutdown.

If there is will there is a way!!!

Focus on your health

May be you are another victim of this isolation period that you cannot feel your beloved Gym equipment. It’s sad to be away from your favorite jogging track and from your swimming lane. If you are an above average work out enthusiast, you will know how to keep your body in shape during these days. 

Not to worry, there are enough of ways to keep yourself engaged when you’re at home. Find the ultimate website or app for cardio exercises which requires very less equipment. Your flexibility, Strength, Balance and your Endurance will increase by doing cardio for couple of minutes. This will help to kill your boring time at home and again to keep yourself healthy. 

Another healthy way is to learn and practice Yoga. There are enough of online Yoga classes and sessions you follow even if you are new to this, or you can surf the good old You tube. Select a time in the day which will not disturb your work.

Any way, you need to find a way to burn those calories that you gained on the couch while watching TV.

So Make every workout count!!!

Gather Knowledge

While surfing the internet to please your senses and your emotions, allocate sometime to gather new knowledge too. Reading articles, magazines and publications or watching videos to enhance your knowledge related your industry/ work is one of the things that you can do at home on these less working days. Challenge your self and take some available online courses too.

Sharing the gathered knowledge via different platforms to your close communities also will generate further motivation for your hunt.

Remember, Knowledge is Power!!!

Thinking of Starting a Business?

It’s high time to pull out your buried business plan and activate. It could be anything from an online retail business to a medium size business to your choice. Connect with your partners, modify and update the plan, do research and work out the finances during this period will help you to take a boost towards the new business.

There are enough of support on the internet and even you can connect live with a specialized consultants to make your new dream come through.

A big business starts small!!!

Joining the Online Global Work Force

If you have what it takes, there are ample of opportunities on the internet to earn more revenue. These can be specialized areas for certain entities that provides work.  The range of work can be wide from freelancing, translating, building websites, blogging and a whole lot of them. 

It’s an good path way if you have not entered the regular work force or even for the other employees, but make sure that you avoid conflict of interest and perform your primary work without any disturbance. So manage your time since you have more now. 

Great things needs great minds!!!

Use your precious time wisely and invest your time for your future benefit. The Covid-19 has taught so many lessons to the world as well as threatened the whole human kind, so why not we grab the given opportunities to make the world a better place?


by SL Tourism Polls – Your Daily Dose of Tourism!!!

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On the Waters of the Bolgoda Lake – The Flow

Getting to this place was a panic in itself. The online maps showed everything about this place- how to get here and all but the actual surroundings gave you that feeling that you might be lost.

That is, until the open the big brown gate and you saw what the interior looked like.

An open lobby that shows itself to the lake-and what a good view of it. It is not in a small clove or a narrow stretch of water, there is a good view of it all.

A show around of the Marina was given (The Amber Collection). There was a small pool but luxuriously built.
A small bar to get our refreshments and our welcome drink was a nicely made Watermelon juice. No seeds at all unlike some other restaurants that stopped me from drinking this beautiful drink altogether.

I was asked by the mange as to when and where I would like my lunch and when I asked him to look after our experience, he brightened up and said that he will be glad to do so. And a happy “you will be surprised” was added to the end of his conversation.

They showed me my room. Such a glamorous room it is. The fine woodwork and the antique looking plumbing added a seafaring touch to the ambience of the room, and it was nice idea to put the bathtub in the room itself (not in the bathroom where there are no windows) – where there are the windows which overlook the waters of the Bolgoda lake.

Along came lunch

Upon cheek-in, a lunch menu was presented to us. We were asked to mark what we would like to have for lunch from the 3 course (or so I thought when I was ordering – but definitely it was not the fact when I saw how the other tables had received their food).
To me, it seemed as if there was a choice of 2 different Starters (Both vegetarian) or a soup.

Where the other tables got a few course menus, I only got a three course. But I did not complain as each of my 3 courses was flavorful and folly. Frankly, after eating my share, I did not really have the need to eat more.

However, as I sit here, at the dining table, a thought comes to mind. There is a confusion. They thought that we did not ask for dessert. Apparently, you have to physically, verbally and spiritually order the dinner even though it was the only desert item on that three course menu.

Wow here I wait longer for my dinner. It was a good thing that I had asked for it. Else, back to my room not having my sweet tooth satisfied.

My verbal response to all this was, “I am going to mark everything on your menu.” And so I did. On the menu that the captain provided, I’ve even went far to marked the number of dishes. Underlined the menu items. Wrote Exactly how I wanted my beef grilled (which the Captain assured us it was how it was generally cooked).

We hear the boats’ Engine start. The cruise is about to begin. But it seems delayed-most likely they are waiting for my cream caramel to be prepared.

And speak of the devil-here it comes. This chapter has gained its final full stop.

The propellers are a churning

We have started to move. Spoke to the captain and he told us all about the controls in front of him [up on my curious inquisition.)

Did you know that Bolgoda lake is about 3-5m deep at its deepest? It’s not really that deep, is it?
The Chief Engineer confirmed that if you jump into the water, you will only be neck deep but will truly be stuck in the mud because there is a thick layer of it that has settled on the bed; a thick gooey mess of it. I’m not even going to wear a life jacket to swim in this water. And no, I haven’t asked the crew about the possibility of doing so.

So instead, I filled up the bathtub and had a good soak. The only regret is the missing bubble bath solution at the thought that I have a bath bomb at home and it is not being used.

I am fortunate. The amenities within the room are plentiful. Bathroom amenities are complete. You don’t have to bring anything from home. Everything was provided for and of superb quality. This company knows what it needs done when it comes to in-room luxuries.

Well, dinner at 7.30pm, On deck under the stars on the middle of the Bolgoda lake

A four course menus that I have ensured that I have thoroughly marked to reduce or even eliminate miscommunication between us two parties.

Now its time to saw some logs and enjoy a little siesta. Oh, the boat doesn’t feel like a boot at all. It is so stable and so comfortable. Even a person who gets seriously seasick will enjoy this cruise.

A surprising evening snack

Oh what a surprise! The Captain called me up and asked me if I wanted the snack in the room or up on the deck.
Up on the deck is the place to go. Our neighbors, who was also having their evening snack received an unexpected guest, a Pigeon. Upon closer inspection, it was found to be a hand-raised pigeon. It has a blue tag on both feet.
Our waiter returned it back to the wild hoping it will get home safely.

Back to our snack. It was a meal in itself and quite a heavy one at that. I had requested to push the dinner back by one hour. Eating that much and then dipping soon into dinner will be too much than the stomach can handle.

Keep in mind, being the lost traveler, I like these surprises and hope that I can get more with the hopes that they will be extremely accommodating with my requests for change.

So far, so good. A smile on their faces goes a long way and my blindness and their willingness goes hand in hand.

Top class service, by the three on board. The Captain, the Chief Engineer and waiter.

Our bottle of Cognac is well suited to this ship. From being on the water, to the four Course dinner to the wonderful aroma less breeze that moves briskly from port to stern (left to right – please correct me, all you regular sea-going travelers out there).

A calm voyage. I can comfortably say, up to this point, that it is well worth the money that I have spent.

Dinner onboard

The four course dinner menu came and went and it was good but quite heavy. I enjoyed it immensely and that brought in a deep sleep soon

A Bit of fishing

6.30 am brought us a preplanned call from our Captain that the fishing boat was ready.

A small little boat took us to a small island that our boatman rowed us to. A fishing rod node of Kithul wood with a fishing line and hook was arranged for us. The bait that he used was pieces of bread rolled and then placed on the end of a hook. Took a bit of time to get the feel of the casting the line but I got used to it and it was such an entertaining experience. From being so low and close to the water to waiting by a mangrove where the fish lived in numbers got me to catch 2 fish, which we released back onto the water.

After about an hour and a half of fishing we headed back to the Marina’s Doc but the house boat had already left for its morning cruise. we had to wait for a bit. They were in the process of loading up breakfast and it was this speedboat that they used to take us back to the house boat.

After about 5 minute of freshening up, it was upstairs again for breakfast. They started with a fruit platter at then went on to a very interesting bowl of mango cereal. You will have to try it to experience it. There are a few to many details here that I will omit just to make sure you can judge based on your own experience a rather than relying on my words. Just like how you would like your eggs. They are one of the most versatile food items known to man and each will have their own opinion as to how it ought to be cooked.

They’re bringing it in

It was a bit after breakfast when the Captain announced that the houseboat is going in for Docking. It was a good stay and a recommendation goes out for all who want to experience it.

Yes, it is on the pricey side but you won’t get an experience like this anywhere else and its worth putting a few 10 grands aside and experience this.

All I asked Blue Ceylon was to get me on a course and that’s what they did.

Maybe a rainy day won’t hurt the trip except for the bit of fishing, but the rain drops across the vast lake would look really good.

Boat docked, we checked out and it is just the drive on hard tarmac back home to look forward to.

Blue Ceylon looked after. They can look after you.I decided to go in blind and cumbersome as it is, it was an experience. Or you could ask all the questions you need and enjoy every single minute of your ride as the Amber Flow at Bolgoda.

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The Joyful Dwellers – The Sri Lankans

The Pearl of the Indian Ocean, is known for lot of things. A rich history of more than 2500 years in writing shows an amazing tradition and culture in Sri Lanka. There are lot of things similar to the neighboring country of India, but the uniqueness of this small island is known by the world.

From the known past to now, Sri Lanka has been visited by thousands of known and unknown travelers from around the globe. The famous journals and diaries speak of the true Sri Lankan culture and the society of which they experienced.

Sri Lankans are very good at creating the first impression amongst travelers and visitors. Majority of the Sri Lankans speak very gently through use of a beautiful language, Sinhala. Offering food and gifts to those stepping over the threshold of a house has always been practice from generation to generation. 

Good morning is a very common way of greeting in Sri Lanka with the effects of the globalization. However, “Auybowan” is the proper way to greet if you ever meet a Sri Lankan. Putting your palms together in front your chest is the gesture that you might want to perform and “Vannakam” is also considered as the common greeting among the Tamil speaking citizens. Tamil also considered as a national language in Sri Lanka apart from Sinhala and English.

            A true smile is a very commonly seen addition to these islanders’ greeting where the joy and the hospitality always overflow. The enthusiasm to share the local experience with the visitors is a remarkable thing they enjoy. Apart from the scammers that you will find in different areas (even in other countries), you will find it very comfortable among these caring people. 

            Not to forget the modern crowd who celebrates and letting their souls to find the ultimate craziness in them. But the true Sri Lankan essence in the people who lives in this beautiful island is unbelievable. 

Let’s Explore Sri Lanka!!!

Madushan Jayathilake – The Blue Team

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#givebacktonature – A Cleaner Sri Lanka

Give back to Nature – The Self

This should be a mantra that has to spoken to oneself to begin the day. Wherever we go, we see garbage, waste, landfill, plastics, glass, cans, paper etc which leads to an unaesthetic visual sight of the place, the unappetizing aromatic atmosphere around the place, where one has to carefully thread lest they step on yesterday’s breakfast or a base for tonight’s dinner – but worst – the possibility of disease that lingers around from germs that congregate at such waste sites.

Give back to Nature. The Youth

This should be what has to be taught in school every morning at assembly and at every recess during the middle of the day. School children knowing not to buy anything from vendors that come wrapped in plastic or that comes in plastics that cannot be recycled. School children looking to make and play with ornaments and decorations from the plastic thrown by others and not by the Plastics thrown on to shop shelves for selling by companies looking to profit from people’s ignorance. 

Give back to Nature. The Action

A series of beach clean-ups took place at various beaches around the Island and i was privileged to be a part of the team that assisted in cleaning things up and two of these beaches so far. 

The things we found – plastic bags, straws, containers, ice cream packets, yoghurt cups, plastic ropes and fibers, bottle caps, styrofoam, plastic bottles, SYRINGES WITH NEEDLES all on our beaches that we take our children to.

It was a back-breaking task, where i felt the sore muscle effects even days after the clean-up. which prompted me to buy a Picker Tool (yes, made of plastic but for for good deed and I shall look to utilizing it properly if ever it breaks at some point in time) and that helped alot and made the clean-up more effective and efficient.

So if you want to help out but feel nervous doing a clean up on your own – which I understand for i had all my tools and PPEs with me on the first time I went for a clean up but went early and so was very nervous myself thinking what would others think if i was cleaning up a beach while they bathed in it. Some of you may say not to bother with what others think at all, but there will always be a voice in your head that still tells you someone is watching you.

So if you want to help out, feel free to search on Social Media and join one of the campaigns that are being organized now to clean up various beaches around the Island. Or else, just post a request to gather people for a beach clean up and get it going yourself. 

Get recycling companies on board. Call them up. Get posters and learn from them and see the magic happen. 

There will be a time, if we continue the way we are going, that we will never see a green blade of grass again or a puddle of water that we can splash in anymore. Or the shade of a tree to rest under when the sun gets hotter and hotter because of Climate Change. 

The saying “The grass is always greener on the other side” may never literally hold true anymore for there will not be anymore grass – or if there is, might be in the form of a mutated growth now that is asking for milk and cookies while trying to cram knowledge into itself.

I may get lost during my travels. I may not know what the places I visit are or the deep history of sites pass through, but at least I get to enjoy the beauty and awe of it now which may not hold itself in the near future if we do not do anything about it. 

Give back to Nature…. and Nature will give back to you ten-fold.

Give back to Nature… before there is no Nature to get back from.

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Sigiriya, One of the most highlighted destinations in Sri Lanka.

It is a UNESCO heritage site which is a well-preserved rock fortress. The 200-meter massive rock is called the Lion’s Rock. This early Royal Capital was converted to a monastery which was used by the Monks after King Kassapa’s (kaa-shya-pa) death.

The architecture amazes the travelers who visit this place with magnificent well preserved frescos, a Mirror wall which contains the 8th century literature and again the ruins of the late royal residence. Not to forget the three types of gardens – Water gardens, Boulder gardens and Terrace gardens. All the travelers deserve the last gift which is the panoramic 360 degrees view at the top.

From the Katunayake airport it takes 3hrs and 30 min to reach this tourist hot spot.

Make sure you have Sigiriya in your check list.

Let’s Explore Sri Lanka!!!

Madushan Jayathilake – The Blue Team

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Our Lady of Lanka: The National Basilica, Tewatta

One thing Sri Lanka is well known for, is the Pilgrimage Tourism. Sri Padha, katharagama, Nalloor and a lot increasingly notorious goals ought not be missed in your visit in Sri Lanka. The National Basilica is one of the national treasures that you shouldn’t miss. Encountering the neighborhood Culture and the Religion inside the western region is so assorted yet where parcel of voyagers investigates inside the entire nation.

The term basilica was initially used to portray a Roman open structure, generally an official courtroom. After the Roman Empire turned out to be authoritatively Christian, the term alluded explicitly to an enormous or significant church given uncommon stately customs by the Pope.

The National Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka or Tewatte Basilica in Ragama lies only 18 kilometers from Colombo. It had its initial beginnings over a 100 years prior when a sanctum to Our Lady of Lourdes was first worked in 1911 and a cavern six years after the fact.

The front view was in the state of an Indian sanctuary and the twin towers, so far as that is concerned any of the Twin Towers of any congregation symbolize the two incredible instruction of Christianity, the affection for God and the adoration for our neighbor. 

The foliage before the Basilica and its game plan are remarkable. The Cardinal was a generally excellent botanist and thought a lot about vegetation. He generally circumvented the nation with his eyes wide open looking for plants. The trees are planted in lines like ‘fingers of an outstretched palm’. This empowers one to see the dais before the basilica during services without hindrance. 

The outdoors zone must be ceaselessly extended in light of the Concourse of pioneers particularly on day off and arrangement must be made for stopping as the years passed by.

The Heritage museum, the magnificent statues, The convent and the famous Kattakumanjal tree can be experienced at this holy destination.

Do not miss out this 1-hour destination while you’re travelling Colombo.

Let’s explore Sri Lanka!!!

Madushan Jayathilake – The Blue Team

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