Sri Lanka is one of T&I’s favourite destinations and the good news on the horizon is that Sri Lankan Airlines will begin daily direct flights between Melbourne and Colombo from October 29. The carrier, a member of the Oneworld alliance and partner with Qantas, has been absent from Australian ports for several decades and its choice of Melbourne as a key port reflects the city’s Sri Lankan population, more than 50 per cent of Australia’s total. The new service, the only non-stop link between the two countries, takes about 10 hours and will be operated by an Airbus aircraft with flatbeds in business class across a 2-2-2 configuration. Australian-based ground operators with tours of the country’s key sites, from national parks and UNESCO heritage-listed sites to tea plantations and beaches, include Abercrombie & Kent, Remarkable East, Byroads Travel and Wildlife Safari. T&I’s go-to villa operator is Elite Havens, which has a range of beautiful colonial-style beach villas (pictured) to rent for short stays on the south coast, including within Galle Fort. In Colombo, consider Black Cat B&B, attached to a cafe in a 1920s house in the chic suburb of Cinnamon Gardens. More: srilankan.com; elitehavens.com; blackcatcolombo.com.