Sri Lanka land delays seen holding up hotel projects

Oct 18, 2010 (LBO) – Delays in getting land are holding up new hotel projects in Sri Lanka which needs more rooms for an anticipated boom in arrivals with the end of a war, an official said. Hiran Cooray, chairman of the Jetwing hotel and travel group, said there was much pressure for new investments with the end of the island’s 30-year ethnic war in May 2009.

“We’re having a level playing field finally and now there’s a lot of pressure on us again for new investments. People are asking questions about when new hotels will be built,” said Cooray.

The immediate need is to refurbish the existing 14,500 hotel rooms most of which have not been upgraded for years.

New hotels are also being planned but there were delays in getting approvals from government for the release of land, Cooray said.

“In getting good land we need the government to take over and assign the land,” he said. “And then we have to find an architect. The good ones are always busy.”

Assuming the investment funds are available, approvals take “anything between six, 12 or 24 months,” he said.

“These are the things that we have to sort out. The tourist board is now working on a ‘one-stop shop’ – we ho