- Created on Saturday, 17 March 2012 06:50
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Sri Lanka’s tourist boom and the tourist prospects and facilities available have attracted William Spain the staff writer of MarketWatch, the commercial edition of the Wall Street to write an exclusive piece on Sri Lanka.
He says that the 45-minute hop from the northern city of Jaffna on a Sri Lankan Air Force flight was comfortable and uneventful. He says that the Air Force runs helicopter sightseeing tours and operates at least one modest seaside resort. The Navy, meanwhile, will take visitors out on various marine excursions, including whale-watching trips.
He says Sri Lanka is certainly an almost ideal time and place for the travel industry. William Spain points out that the peace is going to last and Sri Lanka is also remarkably secure from a personal-safety standpoint, with little violent crime and almost none of it directed at foreigners. The most dangerous thing a foreigner can do these days is get in a car or cross the street: With some exceptions, like the new expressway from the capital of Colombo to the southern port of Galle, driving in Sri Lanka is pretty much an endless succession of near-misses.
He has further writen that Luxury hotels are rising on white-sand beaches in the East that were once controlled by the feared Tamil Tigers. Spas and eco-resorts in the highlands and near the religious and archaeological sites of the central dry zone seem to open almost daily.
In Colombo, the five-star hotels are running at near-capacity. Multinational operators who either abandoned the country in the bad times or shied away from investing in it are signing deals for new properties. Across the island, roads are being built or upgraded to allow a quicker flow of commerce, be it animal, mineral or vegetable.
William Spain says that the government’s stated short-term goal is to reach 2 million tourists and revenue of $2.75 billion in the next few years, a target that many believe is easily attainable barring some unforeseen event.
The writer states that in late February, Hong-Kong based Shangri-La Hotels broke ground on two new properties, one in Colombo and the other in Hambantota the site of both a new deepwater harbor and international airport and an area with unprecedented multibillion dollar investment in infrastructure that is reaching into almost every corner of this West Virginia-sized nation.
Quoting Greg Dogan, president and chief executive of Shangri-La International Hotel Management that Sri Lanka is a country of unsurpassed natural beauty, rich in cultural heritage, and above all it is well recognized for its warm and hospitable population, and the government is fully committed to rebuilding the economy and we believe that Shangri-La will be able to assist in positioning the country as a prime global tourist destination, William Spain says that Shangri-La is putting about $550 million into the two projects, which will have roughly 1,000 rooms between them.
The writer says that Shangri-La’s investment is the biggest foreign one to date in the hotel sector but there are other companies in various stages of development. He also quotes Marriot’s Director of Asian Development who has said that the country offers a lot of potential for resort development and that they are at the moment looking at many projects which are in the planning stages.(niz).