Sri Lanka to add a thousand rooms for tourists this year

SRI LANKA – Sri Lanka’s tourism authority says another one thousand rooms will be added to the current tourist accommodation by the end of the year to cater to booming demand.

“One thousand rooms will be added and they will be in different categories,” Nalaka Godahewa, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism said.

“Our statistics at end December 2010 show a total number of 14,714 rooms in the country.”

In 2010 tourist arrivals were 654,000, a 46 percent rise from a year ago following the end of a 30-year war in May 2009.

The authorities are expecting 750,000 arrivals in 2011 and have a long term plan to attract 2.5 million visitors by 2015.
The anticipated increase in tourist arrivals will require an increase in the rooms available to about 35,000 – 40,000 from present levels.

“The problem is that the government is not building hotels, this has to be done by the private sector,” Godahewa said.

“What we are doing is facilitating it.”

The island has several five star hotel projects in the pipeline to be completed in the next 2-3 years with developers already having bought land from the government.

Hong Kong based Shangri-La is to build a 500 million dollar hotel and property project paying 125 million US dollars for a 99-year lease in the island’s capital, Colombo.

“The Marriot and Hyatt hotel chains have already singled out land to build hotels in (southern) Hambantota,” Godahewa said.

“These hotels are apart of the Commonwealth Games 2018 candidate city bid document to the Commonwealth Games Federation.”

The tourist authority is also pushing to promote home stays through its recently launched ‘home stay and bungalows’ program as arrivals rose after the end of the war.

“Lots of people are moving towards home stays and apartments,” Godahewa said.

The home stay facility will give discerning tourists the opportunity to experience the traditions, customs and even the cuisine of the island while lodging with a local family.