By Raisa Wickrematunge
Ten acres bordering the Yala National Park is being touted as a viable site for another hotel by the Shangri-La hotel chain, officials say.
Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, confirmed that the Ministry was looking at two sites for the Hong-Kong based hotel.
“Our suggestion is, since we are having one in Colombo… to have one in Hambantota or Yala as well,” Abeywardena said.
Abeywardena added that the Ministry had asked for roughly 10 acres to build the hotel on. Although they were looking at land in Hambantota, close to the port, officials had also been examining a possible site near the Yala nature reserve.
Abeywardena emphasized that the land in question was not within the ‘buffer zone’ where wildlife stray.
Asked how much the Yala site was worth, Abeywardena said the lands had yet to be valued by the Government valuer. “We have not decided on Yala yet,” he said.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the Colombo project was being delayed due to the complexity of the hotel design. Construction on the hotel will probably commence in another two to three months.
The Colombo Shangri La will be constructed on land facing the Galle Face promenade, and will include high-end retail stores, luxury apartments as well as the 500 room luxury hotel. It is now estimated that the project will be completed by the end of 2014. The land concerned was purchased for approximately USD 125 million.
Although Abeywardena said it had not been decided whether to construct one of the seven star hotel chains in Yala, it was reported that plans are underway to create a 300 room ‘city resort’ in Hambantota. Work on this project is estimated to start this August, and the cost for both projects is reported to stand at USD 500 million, according to Reuters.
Director General of the Wildlife Department, Chandrawansa Pathiraja said he had no knowledge of the proposed site near Yala National Park. Environment Minister S M Chandrasena was unavailable for comment.