Friday, February 5, 2010

Sri Lanka draws more cruise ships

The global cruise industry is the fastest growing sector of the travel industry .Calls by cruise ships to Sri Lanka, which were greatly reduced during the height of the ethnic war, are picking up. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority said the cruise ship ‘Discovery’ of the Voyages of Discovery cruise line and Louis Cruises of India are called at Colombo port as part of a cruise tourism revival with the end of the island’s ethnic war. The Discovery ship’s call follows that of one by Louise Cruise Lines in recent weeks.

The ‘Discovery’, sailing under Bermuda flag, can carry 756 passengers and touches Colombo mainly on its voyages in the winter season, an SLPA statement said. Louis Cruises group, which is the fifth largest cruise operator in the world is to start calling Colombo port from 2010 Tourism Promotion Bureau officials said.

A voyage of Discovery was formerly known as Discovery World Cruises. The line seeks to serve a "soft adventure" niche for travellers who not only crave adventure, but also love the comforts and amenities of traditional cruising aboard a classic ship, the statement said. The cruise line is now owned by UK-based All Leisure Group which is also the holding company of Swan Hellenic and Discover Egypt.

The Louis cruise line is offering a four days/ three nights cruise to Colombo from the southern Indian port of Cochin. It also offers short cruises of two days/ one night on the high seas off Cochin as well as slightly longer ones of four days/ three nights in the Maldives.

Colombo used to be a regular port of call for cruise ships sailing in the Indian Ocean. But many cruise calls were cancelled and the port was dropped off the itinerary of cruise lines operating in the Indian Ocean as the conflict intensified.

The improved security after the end of the war has created a conducive climate for a boom in tourism and raising expectations of an economic revival. The number of visitors to the island picked up immediately after the war ended and the hotel industry is reporting full bookings in the forthcoming seasons.

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