to grant Sri Lanka tourism destination status
China has formally announced its decision to grant destination status
to Sri Lanka enabling Chinese nationals to visit the country as tourists,
Sri Lanka's embassy in Beijing said.
It said it had
received an official communication from the China National Tourism
Administration (CNTA) about the decision.
Talks in this
connection will take place shortly and an agreement would be signed
after negotiations. On completion of this process, Sri Lanka will
become officially eligible to receive Chinese tourists. Presently
21 countries have been granted destination status by China. Last
year around 10.5 million Chinese went abroad on vacation. "It
is expected that the proposed agreement, once operational, would
be a boon to the Sri Lankan tourism industry. According to Sri Lanka
Tourist Board figures some 2,008 Chinese visited the country last
year," the statement said.
sues for resumption of passenger services
The domestic civil aircraft operator Lionair recently filed action
against the Director General of Civil Aviation seeking a licence
to resume passenger services between Palaly and Ratmalana.
alleged in the writ filed in the Court of Appeal that it was being
unfairly denied a licence to operate domestic passenger services
now that the ban on internal flights has been lifted.
challenged the Civil Aviation Department's stipulated requirement
that domestic operators need to have their aircraft registered in
maintained that the existing air navigation regulations has no provision
that such aircraft have to be registered in Sri Lanka.
The action comes
in the wake of the removal of the ban on domestic flights and moves
by other operators to start passenger services to Jaffna.
flights were banned after a Lionair plane was shot down by the Tamil
Tigers in September 1998. The civilian passenger shuttle service
was then placed under the purview of the Sri Lanka Air Force which
operated the Lionair aircraft and aircrews under its Helitours civil
four operators appear to be in the fray to run the Jaffna air service
- Lionair, SriLankan Airlines, Nahil Wijesuriya's Airlanka International
and Expo Aviation.
recently advertised its domestic passenger air service to Jaffna
although it is yet to get a licence to fly passengers.
the ticketing office said they were charging Rs. 5,900 for a return
ticket and Rs. 3,000 one way for flights starting on April 20. The
Lion Air flights cost Rs. 6,000 for a return.
Chandran Ratnam said they were looking forward to resuming their
flights to Palaly.
making preparations to resume our domestic passenger flights to
Jaffna" he said.
had applied for a licence from the Directorate of Civil Aviation,
Lionair had done over 14,000 flights to Palaly and other destinations
such as Koggala and Weerawila since 1994 and carried 561,178 passengers,
he believed there would be room only for not more than two operators
on the Jaffna route, particularly with demand expected to slacken
with the reopening of the A9 highway.
profits fall in challenging year
Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation reported lower profits
last year largely owing to global economic problems, particularly
the collapse of Argentina's economy.
to shareholders at $5.4 billion was $1.2 billion lower than the
result achieved in 2000, HSBC Group chairman Sir John Bond said.
a challenging year for the financial services industry," he
said. "That HSBC performed well overall is a measure of the
resilience of our business."
In many of the
bank's major markets, the business environment deteriorated during
The US economy
slowed markedly with a corresponding impact on much of the rest
of the world, especially those countries, including many in Asia,
which export to it, Bond said.
revenues by $1.3 billion against cost growth of $1billion resulting
in our operating profits before provisions rising $0.3 billion to
$11.3 billion," he said.
for the impact of exchange rate movements the growth was 5.9 per
cent. Our bad debt charge (excluding the $600 million Argentine
additional general provision) absorbed 13.7 percent of our operating
profit before provisions, rising by $0.5 billion to $1.4 billion,"
The bank took
exceptional charges against its current exposure in Argentina amounting
to $1.1 billion.
profitability fell in 2001 as a result of higher credit charges
in Europe and the non-recurrence of 2000's provision recoveries
in Asia-Pacific. Pre-tax profits fell 14 per cent to $2.4 billion.
Bond said the
bank's wholesale banking activities produced "record results"
Successes in corporate banking and in treasury and capital markets
more than offset weak performance in corporate finance and equities
business, he said. Pre-tax profits grew by $467 million to $4 billion.
from private banking activities fell by $135 million to $412 million.
However, the net inflow of funds was encouraging, amounting to $13.2
billion, Bond said.
The bank concentrated
on integration and consolidation but also made 38 acquisitions and
investments and completed 17 disposals, Bond said.
"We shall work to enhance our position in the commercial banking
market and to build on our growing strengths in Personal Financial
Services," he said, adding that the bank was "cautious"
about the outlook for the year ahead.
Much will depend
on the pace of recovery in the US with recent economic indicators
providing mixed signals, Bond said.
consumer demand which has supported a number of western economies
may prove hard to maintain as pressure on corporate profits leads
to further industry restructuring and higher levels of unemployment,"
"Many of the world's largest industries and service sectors
are still suffering from overcapacity, which will take time to absorb
and may defer further investment."