|By Mario Andree, The Island, Colombo, Sri
Lanka / Asia News NetworkMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 23, 2011--COLOMBO -- The Hong Kong based hotel chain Shangri-La is planning to open 17 more new hotels in the region while its Hambantota project located in the south of Sri Lanka is off the ground as it hopes the island nation would be the next key tourism destination.
Shangri-La International Hotel Management, Hong Kong, Director for CSR and Sustainability, Patricia Gallardo, addressing the Charted Institute of Management Accountants' Business Leaders Summit said Shangri-La hoped to develop 17 new hotels in the region next year and that its Hambantota project had already moved on to the next level of development.
"We are here to help the Sri Lankan economy grow and we would like to blend in with the country's culture and environment. We are not here to destroy it," she said.
Gallardo said the tourism industry was ranked among the highest revenue earners in the global economy and would be the highest foreign exchange earner here in Sri Lanka as well within the next few years.
The number of world tourists by 2020 is expected to reach 1.6 billion since more than 1 billion tourists were recorded in 2010 according to the World Tourism Organization.
"The total tourist arrivals by region shows that by 2020 the top three receiving regions will be Europe (717 million tourists), East Asia and the Pacific (397 million) and the Americas (282 million), followed by Africa, the Middle East and South Asia," WTO data showed.
South Asia would attract 19 million tourists by 2020. Sri Lanka hopes to attract 2.5 million tourists by 2016 and 5 million by 2020.
Earlier this year, Shangri La Asia Limited announced the purchase of six acres of government land facing the Galle Face green promenade, a prominent landmark in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The development will be a multi-use complex with high-end retailing, deluxe apartments and 500-key luxury hotel to open early 2014. The purchase marks the entry of the hotel group in Sri Lanka, often referred to as the 'Pearl of the Indian ocean'," the hotel group had said then. The outright purchase was concluded for US$ 125 million, and the property is to be developed into the country's only 7-star hotel. The land belonged to the ministry of defence.
Shangri La is also planning a second property, a 300-key city resort on approximately 100 acres of land in Hambantota, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka to open in 2013.
"Sri Lanka is a country of unsurpassed natural beauty, rich in cultural heritage and above all, it is well recognised for its warm and hospitable population," said Greg Dogan, President and CEO of Shangri La International Hotel Management Ltd had once said of the once conflict-torn island.
Shangri La manages 70 hotels worldwide with a room inventory of over 30,000. The group has a substantial development pipeline with upcoming projects in Austria, Canada, mainland China, India, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Mongolia, Russia, Qatar, Turkey and United Kingdom.
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Copyright (c) 2011, The Island, Colombo, Sri Lanka / Asia News Network
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