Chinese check-in to AHTIC to check-out tourism opportunities in Sri Lanka

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Sri Lanka has announced that it will be welcoming a VIP delegation from China, to the inaugural Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC) in Colombo in November, organised by Bench Events and Sri Lanka Tourism Club. The delegation, comprising leading investors and hoteliers, has been facilitated by the Centre of Asia Hotel Forum.

Among the influential executives who will meet the Sri Lankan president and prime minister, will be  Mr. Haibo Bai,  Chairman and President of HNA Hotel Groups, part  of HNA Group, the Chinese aviation and shipping giant which recently acquired 25% of Hilton for $6.5bn.

The delegation’s attendance is a coup for the conference and for Sri Lanka, which has plans in place to develop its tourism sector rapidly. During their seven-day stay the Chinese executives will explore investment opportunities, as guests of the government.

Among the other Chinese VIPs will be:

High on their itinerary as they tour the island will be plans to attract tourists back to the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ with the launch of themed tourism development zones. The public-private sector initiative is backed by the Ministry of Lands, the Ministry of Tourism and the Sri Lanka Tourism Club, a government-recognised group of industry leaders responsible for arranging the Chinese investor visit.

At least five and up to eight “Themed International Tourism and Family Entertainment Zones” are being designated in state-owned land, selected for their outstanding natural beauty. They include beaches, mountain and forest regions, extending over more than 4,000 acres. The Chinese business leaders will hear the full plans unveiled at AHTIC.

Sri Lanka Tourism Club Chairman, Dr Prabath C. Ukwatte, a founding sponsor and co-organiser of AHTIC, said: “We will be working with government ministries to deliver themed international tourism and family entertainment zones, and to open them up for foreign investment. The conference will be an ideal opportunity to explain what we will be doing and to attract international finance. The new relationship with Chinese investors and Henry Chen, the Founder of Asia Hotel Forum and pioneer Chinese investment introducer, is historical and it establishes AHTIC as an economic bridge between China and Sri Lanka”.

Henry Chen replied: “Agreed!  I’m delighted to be bringing this delegation. The opportunity is so self-evident, I can’t imagine any serious Chinese hospitality investor not wanting to take a good look at Sri Lanka.”

Tourism minister, John Amaratunga, added:  “We are giving the Tourism Club’s plans our full backing. More zones for development will be announced in the future. We are accelerating and widening the scope for investors by actively making reforms to reduce bureaucracy. We want to speed up decision-making.” He said there would be new concessions and investment opportunities announced at AHTIC.

Amaratunga says Sri Lanka wants to generate up to five million tourists by 2020 and increase tourism revenue to 10 billion dollars. That includes doubling the current number of rooms available and creating direct employment for 300,000.

As well as the Chinese delegation, AHTIC will bring international leaders of the hospitality industry to Sri Lanka. It will be a forum for three days of high-level discussion from across the region – speeches by prominent insiders, a unique chance to hear political leaders’ views first-hand, and opportunities to network with entrepreneurs and other successful individuals.

A demonstration of the growing co-operation between the public and private sectors is the opening AHTIC networking reception in Colombo hosted by the President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, the conference patron. His Prime Minister, as well as the Tourism Minister, will give the opening speeches as the conference gets under way the following day.

AHTIC will take place, November 27 – 29, 2016, at the Hilton Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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