Hospitality Investment Conference Indian Ocean kicks off in Colombo

The 3rd Hospitality Investment Conference Indian Ocean kicks off at the Hilton Colombo, Sri Lanka, bringing together the who’s who of the hospitality industry in the Indian Ocean.

The Opening Session held at the Hilton Ballroom was honoured by John Amaratunga , Minister of Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka, Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Finance of Sri Lanka and Hussain Lirar, Deputy Minister of Tourism of the Maldives.

John Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism Development & Christian Religious Affairs , Sri Lanka
John Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism Development & Christian Religious Affairs , Sri Lanka

In his opening remarks, Minister Amaratunga noted that this was the right time to bring global attention to Sri Lanka, with a stable government and booming locations across the country.

He noted that the East Coast of Sri Lanka is a hotbed for investment where it is a lot more than golden beaches but the unique island destination though compact provides diverse, rich cultural heritage. “When you look at the sea, you get largest mammal in the sea, the whale, and the largest animal on land, the elephant” he noted, adding on to the rich biodiversity of Sri Lanka.

The Minister also noted that the country, due to its geographic location serving as a port connecting the east and west, stays aloof to the international politics that come into the play over dominance of the region, making Sri Lanka one of the most safest places for investment.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Minister Lirar noted that the Maldives is currently going through a major economic transformation, to make the country economically self-sufficient. Citing planned infrastructure developments such as the iHavan project to be developed in the North of Maldives and the planned development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, he said that the Maldives targets to significantly increase the number of tourist arrivals each year.

During the first session of the conference, where CEO of QUO and Chairman of the of the conference, David Keen interviewed the ministers, both countries noted that a significant amount of investment is being made by the governments to develop supporting infrastructure.

The Minister of Finance of Srilanka Ravi Karunanayake noted that Sri Lanka has recently announced a USD 3 Billion investment to develop infrastructure that would enhance and facilitate the tourism sector across the nation.

He also noted that the new infrastructure development projects have immense opportunities, and would like to see more private sector participation, as well as global investments including Sri Lanka-Maldives joint initiatives.

Keen noted that while both countries currently target European markets and Chinese markets from Asia, the region’s neighbouring Indian market is vastly untapped. Minister Amaratunga added that Sri Lanka plans to open up more opportunities for the Indian travelers as the atmospheric conditions in the summer months and cultural similarities show great potential.

Keen also noted the importance of branding and sticking to the marketed perception, as both countries planned on projects to significantly increase their tourist arrivals contradicting the notion of high-end luxury destinations.

Hussain Lirar, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Tourism, Maldives
Hussain Lirar, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Tourism, Maldives

Deputy Minister Lirar noted that while Maldives will continue to brand itself as a high end luxury destination, it will also seek to increase its arrivals to 6 million in the coming years, by introducing mid-range tourist facilities as well as options for back packers in guest houses, making Maldives more accessible to all.

The 2016 edition of the Hospitality Investment Conference Indian Ocean will go on for two days, with delegates discussing key investment and hospitality developments in the Indian Ocean, including, operational issues, market trends, revenue management, and the future of hospitality in the Indian Ocean.

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