A retired British teacher who has holidayed in Sri Lanka more than 50 times over the years has been rewarded with a SriLankan Airlines Fly SmiLes frequent-flyer gold card.

Says 69-year-old Peter Phillips, from Shropshire in the UK: “I never expected such a wonderful gesture. But SriLankan Airlines has always given personal attention to me and all its customers, starting from its call centre, its staff in London, its airport check-in counters, and of course its on-board service”.

And he adds: “It’s not easy for a pensioner to travel overseas nowadays. But this Fly SmiLes Gold card will certainly help me to keep visiting Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lanka is truly a land like no other, providing an amazing variety of resort locations, from beaches to hill resorts, cultural sites and much more. It also has a very pleasant variety of climates, ranging from tropical heat to cool mountains.”

He was presented with the gold card recently at a surprise ceremony “to help him keep visiting his favourite destination of Sri Lanka during his retirement”.

Lanka Business Online reports that Peter had been vacationing in Sri Lanka up to three times a year, since he first discovered the Indian Ocean island’s many attractions for tourists during a chance visit in 1985.

His father had been based in Sri Lanka during World War II as a member of the Royal Air Force, helping to protect the Royal Navy’s main Indian Ocean base in the eastern town of Trincomalee, now a popular resort destination.

He discovered Sri Lanka quite by chance while on a stint in Oman in 1985 teaching English to servicemen of the Royal Air Force of Oman.

He worked briefly in Sri Lanka in 1989 at the British Council, living in Colombo, the suburban resort of Mount Lavinia, and the hill resort of Diyatalawa.

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