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Sri Lanka: From My Eyes and Experiences

Kester Kenn Klomegah

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Midigama Beach, Sri Lanka. Photo by sasha set on Unsplash

Sri Lanka, an island country in south Asian, located to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea, has been interestingly attracting Russian tourists over the two decades. The tourism industry, apart from tea exports, is very important as it brings revenue to the national budget. The economic changes seen as a huge opportunity for promoting tourism business in Russia.

As middle class Russians are travelling for their vacations in Asian countries, so also the business is all year round booming. The main reason for this scenario is the growth in incomes and the tendency in increase of vacationers during the past years. Simply, the overall economic changes in Russia positively affect the outbound travelling. According to my point of view, overall economic development in Russia will continue creating a lot of opportunities for expanding the tourism industry.

For the time of my stay here, Russian tourist traffic to Sri Lanka has increased more than 10 times. Exotic destinations are becoming more and more popular among Russians and Sri Lanka is one of the most attractive Asian countries. Of course, it seems that the global instability and financial crisis affected all economic spheres and, to some extent, tourism as well.

Despite this situation, people still make their choices more carefully and seriously, and give their preference to the countries they have never been before. Sri Lanka is a developing destination on the Russian travel market and I can say that there is a great future ahead.

Stability and strength are the best indicator at the present difficult times and this give us a power to express optimism about the future in Sri Lankan tourism sphere. The number of Russian tourists travelling to Sri Lanka is increasing year by year, and in leaps and bounds.  In 2017, the growth was about 10% in spite of the crisis.  Experts at the Russian Tourism Agency told me that the figure for first quarter of 2018, for instance, is not so impressive but attributed to the policy of Russian tour operators and air companies.

Personally, I have every reason to say that Sri Lanka is a small miracle. Nearly all Russians who have visited the island talked about the natural beauty of Sri Lanka. There are three main reasons that make the country a very popular destination among foreign and Russian vacationers.

First is that there is summer all year round. An average temperature is about 26-30 degrees Celcius (and there is no raining season) which attracts travellers the whole year round. In some seasons, rain might start suddenly in any part of the Island and stops short as well. You are able to see the climate changes from tropical on the coastline of the Indian Ocean until the temperate in highland of the island where some frost observed at night.

Second reason for its popularity is that Sri Lanka has splendid nature and rich cultural heritage. Travellers who enjoy a cognitive tourism are able to see historical heritage, museums, ancient cities, Buddhist temples and national dance show. Numerous national parks, mountain peaks, waterfalls, rain forests and jungles with an infinite number of animals and nature variety attract nature-lovers. For adventure tourism, Sri Lanka offers climbing to the mountains peaks, rafting, diving surfing and other kind of water sport.

Third reason of Sri Lanka’s attractiveness is the local hospitality and friendliness of Sri Lankan people. Sri Lankan hotels provide a well-known Asian service and comfortable accommodation. People smile right from the bottom of their hearts.

The government’s key policy on tourism promotion and strategies that have adopted to sell the country’s tourism destinations has pushed potential tourists to choose Sri Lanka. My interaction with Sri Lankan diaspora, the idea to set up a tourism department at the embassy began in 2008, and it was so because the diplomatic officials have seen a great opportunities in expanding tourism for Sri Lanka.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation takes an active part in promoting the country on the Russian travel market. Over the ten years, I have seen them participate in workshops for travel agents and talk about Sri Lanka to the managers of travel companies. The officials communicate with journalists with great pleasure and contribute to make for their farm trips around Sri Lanka as well.

The government officials organize and support direct flights to Sri Lanka. There are two direct flights organized by Aeroflot airlines from Moscow and airlines from St. Petersburg. In interview discussions with a few Sri Lanka officials, they told me that they have given all kinds of support for those flights and tried to minimize ticket’s rate by the reducing handling costs in Sri Lanka airport.

Sri Lanka regularly participates in Moscow International Travel and Tourism exhibitions in March and Leisure exhibitions in September. During these business events, officials arrange regular meetings with leadership of tour operators for discussing vital problems and help with solutions. The main objective is to support the integration of all members of the travel market.

Further, officials give assistance to Sri Lankan hotels in attracting Russian speaking staff and Russian translation of hotels information. Quite recently, I have noticed that audio guides issued in Russian language including virtual excursions to places of interest in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka tourism industry seeks investors worldwide to invest in the tourism industry. There are attractive schemes to facilitate investors for the tourism infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. Interested Russian investors could invest in those projects. There is high perspectives about the economic sphere in cooperation with Russia. The most important is to have an agreement signed in the field of tourism between Russia and Sri Lanka.

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.

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6 Reasons Why Moscow Should Be Your Next Travel Destination

MD Staff

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What is it really like in Moscow? We believe that Moscow is Europe’s best kept secret with outstanding galleries, museums, world-class theaters, gorgeous parks, exquisite restaurants and beautiful architecture. Moscow caters to all kinds of interests: history, art, culture and gastronomy. After visiting it for the first time you will feel like coming back as there is always more to do and see in the vibrant capital of Russia. 

Staying at Four Seasons Hotel Moscow you are minutes away from the most amazing city sights. Just take your camera, step out of the hotel and dive into the city collecting wonderful pictures and lifetime memories.

Art and Culture

One of the world’s biggest and most famous ballet and opera theaters, the Bolshoi Theater, is located just a 7-minute walk from Four Seasons Hotel Moscow. Enjoy a magnificent performance in the grand building that holds more than 200 years of great art and history, or take a private backstage tour with an expert who has been working in the theater for more than 40 years. Go through the fabulous halls with restored 19th century interiors, take an up-close look of the grand chandelier and step onto the legendary stage where the greatest ballet dancers showcase their talents. If you are lucky you may witness scenery being installed or watch a rehearsal.

Discover Moscow galleries and museums that share fascinating stories about Russian history, display local art and host international exhibitions. Don’t miss Tretyakov gallery that keeps the greatest of Russian art from the 11th to 20th century, caters art projects from all around the world and holds its own cultural and educational programs.

Parks and Nature

As many other dynamic and vibrant cities, Moscow is full of peaceful green parks and recreation zones. Enjoy a walk along the river in Gorky Park, watch amazing fountains in VDNH or spend a day in one of the stunning palace complexes of Moscow.

Tsaritsyno Museum and nature reserve is one of the largest in Moscow and includes a palace complex and a park. This incredible palace was founded by Empress Catherine the Great and carefully restored 200 years later. Enjoy this impressive palace complex in a large landscape park with picturesque cascading ponds and beautiful alleys.

Architecture

Moscow is full of architectural artworks and many of them are hidden underground. Moscow metro is truly the most stunning metro in the world that turns every trip around the city into an unforgettable experience. The concierge team of Four Seasons Hotel Moscow is always ready to share the best routes through the metro to the most beautiful stations and hand you a map with stops to visit.

Gastronomy

Over the last few years Russia’s capital has become an epicenter of gastronomic events. Exquisite restaurants, trendy bars, speakeasies, dive pubs, hip food courts and markets with local products – Moscow serves everyone’s tastes. For those who would like to get to know Russian cuisine, Four Seasons Hotel Moscow Chef, Ilya Karpaev, has added the best national dishes to Silk Lounge menu. If you find yourself in love with Russia’s national cuisine, sign up for pelmeni-making master class with the Chef to learn an amazing recipe and have some fun.

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Discover Wondrous Malaysia with Four Seasons

MD Staff

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Four Seasons invites discerning travellers from around the world to experience the marvels of Malaysia – from the captivating cityscape of Kuala Lumpur to the incomparable natural heritage of Langkawi. With the launch of the government’s exciting new campaign Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020, Malaysia’s best destinations are taking centre stage. Drawing inspiration from this, Four Seasons unveiled special packages and personalised experiences at a press conference held on September 19, 2019, attended by Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, YB Tuan Muhammad Bakhtiar bin Wan Chik. Local business partners such as KUEM and Dino’s Kelulut Organic Farm also came for the event, showing their appreciation for the positive role played by Four Seasons in supporting tourism and the local community.

Kuala Lumpur by Four Seasons

As a cultural melting pot, lively Kuala Lumpur is home to various ethnicities – Malay, Chinese, Indian and other indigenous groups. Wander through the city’s intriguing streets, where mosques and temples sit alongside colonial buildings, and residents gather at open-air kopitiam (coffee shops) to catch up over fragrant brews.

With its enviably central location, Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur offers excellent access to the excitement of Kuala Lumpur without compromising on privacy and tranquillity. Between urban adventures, unwind in one of 198 spacious rooms, 11 elegant suites or 27 serviced apartments, bright with natural light and dramatic city or park views. The Hotel is situated adjacent to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, a dazzling symbol of Malaysia’s soaring aspirations.

Guests can explore this beguiling destination with a customised itinerary crafted by the Concierge. Here are three top experiences:

A walk down memory lane. Stroll through Malaysia’s storied past on an architectural walking tour – from British colonial buildings at the historic Merdeka Square to the fairy-tale spires of the Moorish-style Railway Station.

Tastes of Malaysia. Set off on a sensory tour of Kuala Lumpur’s trademark night markets: sample an array of street food, browse local crafts and have a picnic in the park.

A dip in the forest. Recharge in the lush jungles that surround the city. Hike to a hidden waterfall where you can coast down a natural waterslide and swim in the picturesque pool.

Langkawi by Four Seasons

Home to Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO Geopark, Langkawi boasts a geological legacy that goes back 550 million years. Explore the island’s astonishing diversity of habitats: kayak through mysterious mangroves, zipline over lush jungles, stroll through tranquil rice fields, cruise the stunning Andaman Sea, or simply unwind by the water.

With a mile-long stretch of pristine beach and a location adjacent to the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, Four Seasons Resort Langkawi offers unrivalled access to extraordinary island experiences. The Adventure Team, led by veteran Chief Naturalist Aidi Abdullah, guides guests through the remarkable surroundings. Guests may even spot an exotic hornbill, which happens to be the star of the logo for Visit Malaysia 2020.

Guests at the Resort can choose from a selection of wonderfully immersive experiences. Here are three top recommendations:

Mangrove safari. Glide through mysterious forests between land and sea on this naturalist-led boat safari. Meet majestic eagles, mischievous monkeys and surreal “walking” fish.

Rumah Ikan Fish House. Experience generations-old fishing methods at our traditional fish house. Designed by a local fisherman and crafted with island-grown wood, the Rumah Ikan Fish House is an inspiring testament to Langkawi’s vibrant fishing legacy.

The Geo Spa. Strengthen “elemental balance” ethos with Ayurvedic therapies and rituals.

Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 Package

Discover the multi-ethnic delights of Kuala Lumpur and the natural splendour of Langkawi with special Four Seasons packages, available throughout 2020.

Kuala Lumpur: Enjoy a lavish daily breakfast along with 15 percent off on Room Rate, dining and spa treatments.

Langkawi: Enjoy a fabulous daily breakfast along with 25 percent savings on the Bed & Breakfast Rate. Guests who stay two or more nights also receive complimentary airport transfers.

Travellers are invited to experience these incredible Malaysian destinations in unforgettable Four Seasons style. Book a stay in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi now.

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Think outside: 5 ways to disconnect and enjoy the outdoors

MD Staff

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Life is hectic, full of demands at work and home. Add digital distractions like computers, cell phones, tablets and more, and it’s no wonder many people are experiencing record-high levels of stress.

One simple solution is to shift your perspective by spending more time outdoors. When you do an enjoyable activity outside, stress begins to melt away as you bask in the fresh air, sunshine and beauty of nature.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a savvy outdoor adventurer. There is a growing movement of people of all ages and walks of life embracing nature by finding new ways to discover the world around them. If you feel the draw of the outdoors, consider these five ideas for disconnecting and enjoying activities outside:

1) Try something new

When you challenge yourself by trying a new outdoor activity, you gain confidence and build lasting memories. You might also find new connections with a shared perspective. Curious about fishing? Look for local opportunities and guides. Want to learn how to rock climb? Research local classes and clubs. Interested in an experience of a lifetime? Explore the many options Polaris Adventures provides. These expertly tailored trips throughout the country let you try new ride-and-drive experiences that you’re sure to never forget.

2) Take a hike

One of the easiest ways to explore the outdoors is something that virtually anyone can do: hiking. Put on comfortable, sturdy athletic shoes and have fun discovering the parks and forests around you. Whether you opt for paved trails or a more challenging path through the forest, it’s a wonderful way to have fun by yourself or with others. Make a day of it by packing lunch or other snacks for mid-hike picnics where you can take in the grandeur of Mother Nature.

3) Explore the open road

There’s something freeing about the open road and exploring the nation’s highways, byways and hidden winding roadways. The fresh air and breeze in your face is second only to the sights and sounds of the new surroundings you experience as you explore cities, towns and country sides. As you look for your next adventure, try an alternative to a car or motorcycle that provides an exhilarating experience, such as a three-wheeled motor vehicle. These vehicles are as fun to drive as they look, plus most can comfortably seat two people for joint outdoor exploration.

4) Head off road

Find endless possibilities beyond the pavement. Few things can compare to traveling off road and discovering hidden spots and new places. With Polaris off-road vehicles, the options are only limited by your desire to explore. Pack up your gear and head out knowing you’re in a machine made to journey through the forests, deserts, mountains and beyond. Go at your own speed and see where it takes you.

5) Wander the water

Whether it’s a pond, lake, river or ocean, the water is equal parts soothing and exhilarating. It provides countless opportunities to spend time outside, depending on your personal preferences. Fish from the shoreline. Rent a canoe or kayak to discover bays and sandbars. Kick back and explore on a Bennington Pontoon. Try your hand at paddle boarding. When in doubt, just plan a beach day with a group of friends or the whole family.

As life continues to pull people in every direction, it’s more important than ever to take a moment and spend time outside. With these ideas, it’s easier than ever to enjoy connecting with others and the outdoors. For more ideas about what to do outside, visit Polaris.

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