Business as usual for professionally-managed southern hotels

- www.ft.lk

Business and preparations to welcome the New Year are as usual for professionally-managed hotels in the south, despite the recent attack on a tourist couple impacting the informal sector, especially in Tangalle.

Southern Region Hoteliers Association President Priyankara Wickramasekara told the Daily FT yesterday that guests in member hotels were continuing to enjoy their holiday in comfort and security and that there had been no cancellations of New Year’s Eve celebrations.
“Our guests have confidence in the hotels they stay in, as well as the arrangements of tour operators,” he added. He suggested that business may have been impacted among the informal or community-driven guest houses especially in Tangalle area following the unfortunate incident, which saw a British holidaymaker killed and his Russian partner seriously injured.The Southern Region Hoteliers Association, which covers the area from Galle to Kataragama, has around 20 hotels under its umbrella and the regional body is affiliated to the main body Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL).
Lankapage.com reported Tangalle Tourism Association President Keerthi Wedarachchi as saying that parties organised to celebrate the dawn of the New Year at hotels in the area had been cancelled after tourists had begun to leave.
Wedarachchi has observed that the murder of the British tourist was an unfortunate incident that has had an adverse impact on tourism in the south.
He has noted that the tourism industry that was down for a while was uplifted by the Government, but that the murder has now impacted the industry.
“It (tourism industry) has fallen once again,” Wedarachchi has said according to the Colombo Page article. The association has called on the Government to intervene and prevent the tourism industry from falling again.
Wickramasekara said that the incident was of concern and reiterated that in general an improved law and order situation in the country was critical for the survival of the tourism sector, which has bounced back following the end of the 30-year conflict in May 2009.
“It (Tangalle incident) may be the first and the last, but Sri Lanka has to set an example that corrective action is being taken along with legally dealing with those responsible,” Wickramasekara added.
Recently Sri Lanka welcomed its 800,000th tourist, the highest-ever in the country’s history, whilst as per official data, during the first 11 months of 2011 there had 758,458 tourists, up by 33% over the corresponding period of last year. The majority of tourists numbering 281,484 arrived from Western Europe, while arrivals from Middle East, East Asia, South Asia and Australasia also recorded healthy growth during this period.
For the first 11 months of 2011, earnings from tourism grew at a healthy rate of 46.7% to $ 736 million, the Central Bank revealed last week.
 

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