AHTIC

Sri Lanka announces plans for Tourism Development Zones

Sri Lanka has announced plans to attract tourists back to the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ with the launch of themed tourism development zones, a public-private sector initiative backed by the Ministry of Lands, the Ministry of Tourism and the Sri Lanka Tourism Club, a government-recognised group of industry leaders.

More than 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 1500 acres.

The full plans will be unveiled at the inaugural Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC) to be held in Colombo this month.

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.”

One of the attractions of the project for investors is that the ownership of the land is transparent – not always the case in Sri Lanka. The developments will include luxury tourism, eco-tourism, wellness and yoga, as well as adventure and family activities.

They take in some of Sri Lanka’s finest scenery – mountain tops, dramatic beaches, waterfalls and forest views. The Sri Lanka Tourism Club will develop the infrastructure – access roads, electricity, water and sewerage – but the major financial input will come from outside investors.

Tourism minister, Mr John Amaratunga, said: “Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is very much private-sector driven. The government role is restricted to that of regulator, monitor and facilitator.

“I have formed an advisory committee of leaders of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries whose input is sought on a regular basis on all matters of national interest in the tourism sector. They are the driving force that guides the industry.

“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.

The first zone in a five-year plan – Lanka Patuna – is already under initial construction – over 450 acres of beautiful beach land. It will have capacity for 25 – 30 luxury hotels.

Mr 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.

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.

Sri Lankan ministers, including the finance minister, as well as government officials will provide the latest thinking on official policy on infrastructure and creating an investment-friendly environment.

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

For the full programme visit: www.asia-conference.com/programme

Organiser: Bench Events, Co-organiser and Founder Sponsor: Sri Lanka Tourism Club, Host Partners: Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka; Presidential Secretariat Sri Lanka; BOI Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Strategic Partner: JLL, Platinum Sponsor: JA Resorts & Hotels, Gold Sponsor: Dusit International, Official Airline Partner: SriLankan Airlines.

Bench Events has a long track record of delivering the leading hotel investment events across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events is one of the founders of the highly successful International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin, now in its twentieth year. In 2005, he was responsible for launching the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai and in 2008 the Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference followed by Central Asia and Turkey Investment Hotel Conference. In 2011, with industry backing, Bench Events opened the Africa Hotel Investment Forum which has been held in Casablanca, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and this year to be held in both Lomé, Togo and Kigali, Rwanda. Bench Events addressed a gap in the market in 2014 with the successful launch of the Global Restaurant Investment Forum in Dubai followed by the 2015 edition of the Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum in Madrid.

More recently it has moved into the aviation development space with the launch of the AviaDev Conference. It also partners with the British Hospitality Association on the annual British Hospitality & Tourism Summit held in London. Bench Events has recently announced a joint venture partnership with Arturo Rosa on the South American Hotel Investment Conference (SAHIC) for Latin America.

Bench Events is an industry platform for growth, networking and thought leadership around the globe.  www.benchevents.com

Sri Lanka Tourism Club’s (SLTC) objective is to brand Sri Lanka as an outstanding tourist destination and aim to promote its unique life style, nature, wonders, attractions, heritage and cultures to develop both domestic and international tourism and enhance Sri Lanka’s share of the market for international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. Its ultimate objective is to increase the number of foreign tourists to Sri Lanka, extend the average length of their stay and finally to increase the national tourism revenue.