Sri Lanka hotels dress up for post-war rush

March 17, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s hotel owners are racing to refurbish and add thousands more rooms as foreign holidaymakers pour into the country after the end of nearly four decades of ethnic bloodshed. Leading hotel groups plan to spend millions of dollars on new decor and facilities for the influx of tourists drawn to the plentiful sunshine, beaches and tropical wildlife on the Indian Ocean island nation.

The ambitious expansion comes amid a post-war revival that has pushed up hotel room rates and given the hospitality industry something to cheer for the first time in years.

For once, after seeing tourists put off by violence and travel warnings from foreign governments, the industry says it is struggling to find places for the visitors, most of whom come from Britain, Germany, France, India and Japan.

“Hotels are overbooked, a ‘problem’ which our hotels have not experienced for a very long time,” said Srilal Miththapala, who heads the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka.

Counting on this solid demand, many are now investing in new furniture, bars, restaurants, swimming pools and extensions.

Sri Lanka’s tourist board expects the total number of hotel rooms to grow