Ebert Silva Legacy

It all began in the 1920s when Agampodi Nomis de Silva, a young man with exceptional entrepreneurial skills hailing from a small town in southern Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was known then, arrived in Colombo with his fascination for the motor vehicle and his dream of starting a passenger transport service deeply etched in his heart.

In a story of classic entrepreneurship braced with unwavering determination and hard work, Nomis de Silva established himself in Dehiwala, close to the capital city. In 1925 he was able to operate his first bus between two significant cities in the island, Colombo and Matara. From the start he was committed towards ensuring passenger safety and comfort in his buses unlike most operators of the time. Before long his fleet expanded and transport services were operated from Colombo to Jaffna, the northern-most city in Sri Lanka, in addition to many other main routes in the island.

In 1942, with the objective of streamlining bus services the government directed bus owners to incorporate their services into limited liability companies. At this significant juncture Nomis de Silva incorporated his bus service as ‘Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company Ltd.’, adorning his buses with his eldest son’s name. The untimely demise of Nomis de Silva following a brief illness at the age of 59, in 1953, was a major devastation to strike the family and business. This compelled a very young Ebert as the eldest son to take over the reins of the company as the Chairman and Managing Director, at the age of 21. It was an arduous and most challenging period of time for this young man as he strived to successfully steer the company forward whilst maintaining the same high standards of service.

The Sansoni Commission was appointed to look into the grievances of the public and record their complaints against the inadequacies and deficiencies of bus services around 1954. Ebert Silva’s hard work paid off when the Sansoni Commission among their other findings recorded Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company as the only company against which there were no complaints from the public. It was recognized to have operated a model transport service with safety, comfort and punctuality, adhering to precise time tables and complying with stipulated quality and safety requirements.  Thus, Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company was acknowledged as a model transport company and selected the ‘Best Bus Company’ in the island by the Sansoni Commission.

Youngest among the bus magnates of the era, Ebert Silva while managing the Omni Bus Company diligently and efficaciously, as a dynamic and astute 22 year old diversified his operations beyond public transport, foreseeing the sparks of an emerging new industry, tourism.  The new company was part of his vision to nurture and develop tourism, which he foresaw to have great potential in driving Sri Lanka towards development and prosperity. He commenced operations with only two second hand cars that were deployed at the Jetty of the Colombo harbor and the Mount Lavinia Hotel for foreign visitors. Later, under his leadership and guidance the company soared to great heights to be a leading and much admired and respected travel agent and tour operator in Sri Lanka.  Thus young Ebert Silva, was among the pioneers that helped lay firm and strong foundations to Sri Lanka’s tourism industry and help nurture it to reach its present heights.

December 31st, 1957, saw the nationalization of the 76 bus companies that were in operation in the island. Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company with its fleet of 68 buses and other bus companies ceased to exist from 1st January 1958 with their fleets and assets being absorbed to form the Central Transport Board. Though other transport giants crumbled and collapsed post nationalization and were swept into oblivion, the determination and commitment of young Ebert Silva made him to endure and brave through this darkest time in Sri Lanka’s motoring history.

Undeterred and unshaken and with greater courage and determination he began his journey once again. His spirit and tenacity made the brand ‘Ebert Silva’ the sole survivor of the bus company era.  Despite extreme and challenging times and under grueling circumstances, Ebert Silva never compromised the quality of his service which he thereafter rendered to both local and foreign tourists. As a young entrepreneur he also initiated many tour packages to less seen and travelled places in the island of historical importance and scenic beauty with the vision of promoting domestic tourism.  The concept of ‘package tours’ among Sri Lankans to experience places of interest in the island was thus introduced. His vision, innovation, integrity and compliance to high standards won the trust of his patrons through the years.

Liberalization of the economy in 1978 enabled the tourism sector to be among the key segments that created employment and attracted foreign exchange as well as foreign investments in Sri Lanka. At these economic crossroads Ebert Silva contributed significantly to the realm of the tourism industry in an unprecedented and unparalleled manner. His valuable and expert contribution was extended to the advancement and promotion of the industry with him also serving as the President of the Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka. Ebert Silva, a pioneer in Sri Lanka’s travel, transport and tourism arenas have been felicitated and his services recognized with prestigious awards and accolades for its excellence, on numerous occasions. His life time contribution and passionate commitment was also recognized with the prestigious Presidential Award as a ‘Legend’ in Sri Lanka’s travel and tourism.

Ebert Silva’s vision, leadership and guidance enabled him to withstand the test of a lengthy period of time and ascend to inscribe his name as a unique brand and success story synonymous with excellence, integrity and trust in Sri Lanka. Today, ‘Ebert Silva’ is a much respected and valued brand and an admired leader in Sri Lanka’s travel, transport and tourism as it moves forward with the same values and excellence.

  • 1925
    An Entrepreneur with a Dream

    Agampodi Nomis de Silva, a remarkable entrepreneur and visionary from the southern village of Waskaduwa arrived in the capital of Colombo, Ceylon, in the 1920s, as Sri Lanka was known then under the British rule, to realize his dream of starting a passenger transport company. With immense determination and hard work he was successful in operating his first bus from Colombo to Matara in 1925.

  • 1942
    Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company

    Nomis de Silva operated his buses along selected routes ensuring passenger comfort and safety and the company swiftly grew from strength to strength in these early years. Meanwhile, in order to regularize passenger transportation services in Ceylon, the government stipulated that the bus services be incorporated into companies. At this significant juncture, Nomis de Silva named his company after his eldest son ‘Ebert’, as ’Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company Limited’.

  • 1953
    Young Ebert Silva Heads the Company

    It was an arduous year when Ebert Silva, as a young 21 year old was compelled to take over the reins of Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company following the untimely passing away of his father. Youngest among the magnates of the bus company era he was determined and committed to ensure the best quality of service and passenger safety on his buses.

  • 1954
    Diversifying into Tourism

    Ebert Silva as a young visionary foreseeing the sparks of an emerging industry, diversified to serve and nurture tourism. Cars were utilized at the Colombo jetty and the Mount Lavinia Hotel to welcome foreign guests in the early years.

  • 1958
    Best Bus Company

    The ‘Sansoni Commission’ appointed prior to nationalization of bus companies in Sri Lanka was also formed to look into the grievances of the commuters of the time. Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company was the only bus company against which there were no complaints received and it was noted to have operated a model transport service with punctually and passenger safety. Along with its other conclusions the Sansoni Commission selected Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company as the ‘Best Bus Company’ in the island.

  • 1958

    Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company consisting of a fleet of 68 buses was nationalized on December 31st, 1957. Post nationalization, Ebert Silva Omni Bus Company and it’s fleet no longer existed. It together with other bus companies was absorbed to form the Ceylon Transport Board.

  • 2005
    A Leader in Sri Lankan Travel and Tourism

    Ebert Silva’s able leadership nurtured a much respected and reputed brand and steered it to the forefront of Sri Lanka’s travel and tourism industry over the years. A momentous highlight was when the then President Hon. J. R. Jayawardena appointed Ebert Silva as the only private travel agent to transport H.M. Queen Elizabeth II on her royal visit to Sri Lanka. H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and her entourage toured in Ebert Silva’s luxury coaches to view the ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruva in 1981. Ebert Silva received many awards and accolades for the excellence in service rendered to foreign tourists, domestic travellers as well as estimable organizations in Sri Lanka  The services provided were renowned for its extensive and immaculate fleet of vehicles, reliability, passenger safety and quality of service.

  • 2006
    Ebert Silva Holidays

    Ebert Silva encouraged and guided his daughter Rajini de Silva Mendis, a Chartered Architect by profession, to actively enter the family business by incorporating Ebert Silva Holidays. The new company focuses on providing exclusive experiences and innovative services in Sri Lanka.

  • 2010
    Ebert Silva Honored as a ‘Legend’

    In recognition and appreciation of a lifetime of committed contribution and service towards Sri Lanka’s travel and tourism industry Ebert Silva was honored with the prestigious Presidential Award as a ‘Legend’ in Sri Lanka’s travel and tourism.

  • 2010
    Ebert Silva Holidays Introduces Open Deck City Sightseeing

    The first ever Open Deck city sightseeing service the ‘Colombo City Tour’ was launched by Ebert Silva Holidays in collaboration with Sri Lanka Tourism. At the end of a 3 decade war this new experience showcased Sri Lanka’s premier city Colombo to the world and added a distinct touristic feature to the premier city.

  • 2012
    Ebert Silva Holidays Wins Tourism Award

    Ebert Silva Holidays was awarded the prestigious ‘Tourism Award’ for its novel touristic venture, the ‘Colombo City Tour’, the first – ever open deck city sightseeing service in Sri Lanka.

  • 2016
    Introducing Novel Experiences to the Industry

    Ebert Silva Holidays introduced novel experiences to the entertainment and marketing industries with the ‘Party Bus’ and the ‘Promo Bus’ using open deck double deckers. These experiences synergizes with many stakeholders offering exciting opportunities and experiences.

  • 2016
    Ebert Silva Felicitated as a ‘Legend in Tourism’

    Legendary Ebert Silva was felicitated as a ‘Legend of Tourism’ posthumously, at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Sri Lanka Tourism. Pioneers such as Ebert Silva were recognized by this prestigious award for their efforts and contributions made to the industry enabling it to reach to its present heights.

  • 2017
    Introducing Open Deck City Sightseeing in the World Heritage City of Kandy

    Ebert Silva Holidays launched the ‘Kandy City Tour’, the only open deck city sightseeing service in the picturesque hill capital. It offers unmatched experiences and exclusive glimpses into Sri Lanka’s medieval capital. It is also a sacred city to Buddhists around the world and a UNESCO declared World Heritage City.

  • 2020
    Towards a New Era

    We are proud to introduce our new identity at a momentous juncture, with which we will be completing a glorious legacy spanning a century in Sri Lanka’s travel and tourism in 2025. Our new identity articulates the zeal, progressive thinking, innovation and readiness with which we will challenge the next decades, as we continue the legacy of our founders with excellence and distinction.